Middlefield Road cuts through one of the most extreme income gaps in the Bay Area, where experts say the gulf between the wealthy and the poor is already greater than any other region in California. Although it is easy to ignore that gulf in enclaves like Los Altos Hills or Blackhawk, here the disparity is stark — a region’s economic tensions, carved in miniature.”
In just a quick drive from Atherton’s 94027 ZIP code to Redwood City’s 94063 neighborhood, the median household income plunges nearly $180,000 and college education levels drop as the canopy of trees disappears, making way for car repair shops, liquor stores and commercial storefronts through unincorporated North Fair Oaks and into Redwood City. The two ZIP codes share a border along El Camino Real but for Preciado and others, it is Middlefield Road that takes them from one extreme to the other.
“I think we just accept that that’s a part of the reality,” says Teri Chin, human services manager for the City of Redwood City. “Because we are living side by side, it’s not like you have to go to another country to understand poverty.”
Atherton has a median household income of $250,000, according to 2018 census data, and two-thirds of its residents are white. In the neighboring Redwood City ZIP code, where two-thirds of the residents are Latino and a quarter of children live in poverty, median household income is $71,458.