CITY PROFILE: Concord
Located near the foot of scenic Mount Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County's largest city has a large preserve, open space and park system intermingled with attractive residential neighborhoods. With plenty of sports and recreation facilities, Concord is an ideal location for individuals and families interested in an active, outdoor lifestyle. As an affordable bedroom community with thousands of jobs in its downtown, Concord provides a great location for first time buyers. It has become a business center for advanced technology with companies such as Bank of America Systems Engineering and Chevron USA, and it provides a great location for facilitating small businesses.
Concord is loaded with activities for both adults and children through a combination of many playgrounds, parks, golf courses and shopping opportunities. There are two dozen shopping centers located throughout the city, including the Sun Valley Mall, The Willows outdoor mall, the recently renovated Park and Shop Center with more than 50 businesses, Home Depot, and many other neighborhood plazas. Other major attractions include the Concord Pavilion (a performing arts amphitheater for some of the biggest names/concerts in show business), and the Waterworld water park.
Concord was the site of one of the early towns in Contra Costa County, Todos Santos. Although the first growth was in communities closer to the water (e.g., Martinez), as farming and ranching flourished in the 19th century, Concord evolved. It is located at the foot of several passes though the foothills to the east, Willow Pass and Kirker Pass, which provide access to the delta communities.
The opening of the Caldecott Tunnel and a postwar exodus from the urban areas fired tremendous growth in the 1950's. Central Contra Costa became a geographical extension of the affluent Oakland/Berkley Hills area. The orchards and farmland of Concord offered a perfect setting for affordable housing, at a lower price-point than Walnut Creek or Pleasant Hill, but above Martinez, Pacheco, and Danville (though some of these relationships would change).
During the 1980's Concord exploded with commercial development. High-rises replaced many of the old downtown neighborhoods, and companies relocated their offices from San Francisco and Oakland. Several newer housing tracts offer modern housing ranging from starter homes up to the upscale Crystal Ranch.
For the most part, Concord schools lag other Central Contra Costa communities in test scores, school ranking, and focus on special education programs. A few areas of southern Concord are served by highly regarded Northgate High (primarily a Walnut Creek school). However, some neighborhoods have excellent elementary schools.
All public schools in Concord are part of the Mt. Diablo School District, which also serves Clayton, Clyde, Bay Point, Pleasant Hill, along with parts of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Martinez, and Pittsburg. This is one of the largest districts in California and is now facing administrative and financial challenges.
There is a bit of controversy and dismay over the recent conversion of Clayton Valley High to a charter school. Before the change, this schools was the highest rated of the Concord high schools, it served part of Concords and all of neighboring Clayton. Students can apply to the charter school, but there is no guarantee of placement, especially for kids facing behavioral challenges, low academic performance, and special needs.
The once highly regarded Ygnacio Valley High School, has slipped to the lowest ranking in Central Contra Costa (API 655 for 2013), even below rankings in the Delta Communities, West Contra Costa, and Oakland. It is now rated below Mt. Diablo High, which has been improving.
High Schools Map - Shows State API Score by Location
(Above 900 is excellent - Under 700 is scary)