Codornices Creek Watershed Council

Codornices as a Resource and Asset

Codornices Creek

Codornices Creek drains a 1.1-square mile watershed and flows 2.9 miles from the Berkeley Hills to San Francisco Bay through the cities of Berkeley and Albany. The lower reach of Codornices Creek defines the Berkeley-Albany city boundary. It is the only creek in Berkeley where the majority of the stream remains in an open, natural channel.

Historically, the creek entered tidal marsh where Third Street is today. The filling of the Bay for waste disposal and real estate development added three quarters of a mile to the Creek's journey to the Bay. Check out the Oakland Museum Maps of Codornices Creek for current and historical geography.

It is estimated that about 85% of the watershed is developed with a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial land uses. Despite its highly urbanized drainage area, Codornices flows in an open channel through various private backyards of citizens of Berkeley and Albany as well as several business owners. However, the Creek is accessible in various public parks and green spaces throughout the Creek.

Codornices Creek In the upper watershed, the north and south forks join the mainstem in Codornices Park, where it then flows downstream through the Rose Garden and then Live Oak Park. Bicyclists and pedestrians may visit the Creek as it bypasses the Ohlone Greenway before it flows west of San Pablo into a restored section at 5th-6th Streets, next to soccer fields and skate park. After crossing under Interstate 80-West, the Creek flows into a marsh area in the San Francisco Bay, where a diverse bird community can be observed just north of Buchanan Street. Take a virtual tour of the Creek's path!

Codornices Creek is a perennial (year-round) stream that supports populations of native fish including rainbow/steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), California roach (Hesperoleucus symmetricus), and stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). The rainbow/steelhead trout is a federally listed threatened species. Steelhead are the anadromous (sea-going) form of rainbow trout. Steelhead are born in the upper reaches of streams, rear in freshwater 1-3 years, migrate to the ocean where they mature to adulthood, and return to natal waters to spawn. In March 2006, steelhead ranging in size from 17 to 24 inches were observed and documented spawning, and can be seen in a video taken by local group Friends of Five Creeks and Urban Creeks Council staff.


Codornices Creek

For the purpose of this initial review of watershed demographics, the CCWC has separated the watershed into three sections: the upper, middle, and lower watersheds. Official definitions do not yet exist for these various watershed reaches and are generally not referred to by these terms. Work will be carried out in the future to better define these areas using more detailed data and information, such as elevation, drainage patterns, and detailed land use. We used these vague definitions of the watershed reaches to research zip codes within census data (2000) for general demographic trends. We define the watershed reaches as:

  • Upper Watershed = North Berkeley hills south and west to Shattuck Avenue

  • Middle Watershed = Shattuck Avenue downstream to Peralta Street

  • Lower Watershed = Peralta Street west to the Bay

In general, the demographics of the watershed are significantly different in the upper reaches than the lower reaches. The upper and middle watershed demographics are much more similar, though there are variations in land use.

Codornices Creek

General land use varies between the upper and middle watershed, though they are similar in demographics. The upper watershed is almost all single-family residential housing, while the middle watershed is made up mostly of a combination of single-family housing and mixed housing units with families and students, with a high number being owner-occupied. The middle watershed also has a few major retail/restaurant corridors as well as smaller concentrations of retail and restaurant establishments interspersed throughout neighborhoods; however, no industry exists. In general, the ages, ethnicities, household incomes, educational and other social characteristics are similar throughout the upper and middle sections of the watershed.

The demographics change significantly in the lower watershed, which is located in the lowlands downstream of Peralta Street. This part of the watershed is also made up mostly of mixed housing units with families and students, though the number that are owner-occupied is significantly lower, almost half that of the upper and middle watershed. In addition, less upscale retail and restaurants exist in this part of the watershed. In addition, several industrial facilities are located in the lowest part of the non-tidally influenced section. These demographic data are further described in the table below:

Criteria Upper/Middle
Median Age 47 37
Ethnicity 84% white
2% black
4% Latino
45% white
31% black
13% Latino
Education 60%+ has at least
Bachelor's degree
33% has at least
Bachelor's degree
Median Household Income $111,449 $42,850

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