National Rating: Orinda Is A Very Friendly Place

It's the No. 2 friendly city in the nation and No. 1 in California — so says Forbes.com.

Neighborliness and bonhomie coursed through Orinda Thursday with the certification that Orinda is a friendly place — even the friendliest in California and second in the whole USA.

On its website, Forbes magazine listed Orinda as no. 2 in the nation, crunching some friendly numbers for cities of population between 5,500 and 150,000.

The recognition thrilled Orinda Mayor Amy Worth. “I wasn’t surprised given our low crime rate and residents’ high level of civic engagement and generosity,” stated Worth in a city news release.

Forbes listed other factors that contribute to a sense of community such as public common areas and downtown hubs where people gather for parades, festivals, and concerts.

“The City does well on that score as well,” Mayor Worth said. “That’s why it’s a great place to live.”

Community activist Carol Penskar, a 24-year Orinda resident, said, "I strongly agree that the community is friendly, cohesive, passionate, and hands-on, and the quality of life is high."

In an email, she described many groups that "knit the community together:"

  • The Orinda Association.
  • The Orinda Arts Council.
  • The Community Center Auxiliary.
  • Art in Public Places.
  • The Parks and Recreation Foundation
  • Orinda Youth Organization.
  • The Community Center.
  • Rotary
  • Orinda Junior Women's Club.
  • Various garden clubs
  • The Education Foundation of Orinda.
  • The Friends of the Orinda Library.
  • The Orinda Community Foundation.

The Forbes formula

Using data from the U.S. Census, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and City-Data.com, the rankings were based on the percentage of owner-occupied homes, crime rates, charitable giving and percentage of college graduates. A Forbes partner, Nextdoor.com (a social network for neighborhoods) conducted qualitative surveys among its membership in the towns that rated the highest to come up with the top 15.

The Forbes website was downright friendly to Orinda:

"Orinda, Calif., an Oakland suburb with nearly 18,000 residents where 92% of households own their homes. Roughly 77% of those residents have a bachelor’s or a higher degree. As in Sammamish, the crime rate is much lower than the national average.

"Holidays and events are a really big deal to Orinda residents,” says Kelsey Grady of Nextdoor.com. Annual events include the Orinda Film Festival (now the California Independent Film Festival), the California Shakespeare Theater and an annual daylong 4th of July celebration that kicks off with a pancake breakfast. On Nextdoor, Orinda residents have been known to organize holiday gatherings like pumpkin carving contests and neighborhood wine and cheese parties."

The No. 1 friendly city was Sammamish, Wash. I knew Sammamish was friendly when I went to the Patch site there —  leading it was a story about a community effort to have schoolchildren make thousands of snowflakes for the purpose of decorating the bereaved Sandy Hook school in Connecticut, scene of the mass shooting earlier this month. Also in the top five were Fishers, Ind.; Seal Beach, Calif.; and Westerville, Ohio.

Bailey Lee December 21, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Oakland suburb? I don't think so...
linden frank December 21, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Friendly? I don't think so. You sure weren't friendly to me. Snobberville more like it.
linden frank December 21, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Your comment says it all...why your town was trying to stop low income housing for those who couldn't afford your snootiness.
CJ December 21, 2012 at 09:46 PM
We are snobby Frank.Stay out. The article is ridiculous, anybody who lives here and pays attention would know that. Somebody selling RE in the area must have been involved in creating it.
Dive Turn Work December 21, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Is this story a link from The Onion?
Dive Turn Work December 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
It's all hugs & kisses until the leaf blowers come out!
Melinda Maginn December 22, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Ha that was my first reaction too. Orinda is the UNfriendliest city. I have lived in many towns and cities including NYC. Our 6 years in Orinda was to put it mildly...horrible. Neighbors suing each other over, neighbors who don't speak, parents who take no responsibility for their darlings actions, parents harrassing teachers. Now there are many very nice folks in Orinda, but the overall culture? Friendly? Again I thought it was a link from the Onion too.
laura December 24, 2012 at 07:27 PM
This article makes me laugh!!... I've met some real down home blue collar hardworking genuine friendly people in Concord ca, No snobbery there!! the difference is night and day. Orinda is hardcore keeping up with the Jones's snobbery.
Bob Recker December 24, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Many years ago, an elderly man was walking from one town to the next town. He encountered a traveler coming his way, who asked him about the people in the town the old man had just left. In reply, the man asked him about the people in the town he had just left. The traveler responded that the people he had just left were, friendly, kind, generous, and happy to share. The old man told the traveler that he would find the people in the next town to be very much the same. A few minutes later, the man met another traveler, coming from the town ahead, who also asked about the town the old man had just left. Again, the old man asked the traveler about the town the traveler had just left. The traveler responded that the people were surly, stingy, unkind, and unfriendly, and he was glad to be quit of them. The old man responded that sadly, the traveler would find the people in the next town to be much the same...
Susan December 26, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Wow - an article that actually does not mention the Boy Scouts. Thanks Patch!
Dive Turn Work December 27, 2012 at 12:07 AM
So you had to troll and bring it up.
CJ December 27, 2012 at 03:00 AM
CF-I am very attuned to the PR connections those in this area can possess and drive some BS narrative into an article that pumps up the town. I don't really care, except the blatant lack of transparency it represents. . Forbes probably has some contributor mom around here who is pushing the info or whole thing. So the whole story doesn't sound a little conspicuous to you?? All these type of articles are driven by some writers or groups slant usually using info that is biased to fit their intended outcome.
Chris F. December 27, 2012 at 06:48 AM
CJ, I really doubt there is a conspiracy here as you suggest. Although Forbes Magazine is located in South San Francisco the 49% ownership comes from Woodside and I would think they would want to promote there peninsula before Orinda! Here is what I found from Forbes as to the formula behind their Story: Using data from the U.S. Census, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and City-Data.com, we ranked the towns based on four data points: percentage of owner-occupied homes (studies have shown a direct correlation between homeownership and neighborhood stability); the crime rate; charitable giving; and the percentage of college graduates (research has found that college-educated folks typically display more civic engagement, with higher rates of voting and volunteering).
CJ December 27, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Chris F.- I wouldn't call it a conspiracy. Just an assumption that all articles that assemble a bunch of communtiies into "most desirable" , "friendliest" or whatever subset you can break them into is driven by PR people and influenced by preconceived biases. It is how the process works. In simpler terms it isn't worth the time to even read or discuss it, much less in this detail.


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