No injuries or serious damage were reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 4.1 and the epicenter about three miles east southeast of Richmond, about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco.
At the Emeryville police department, a few miles from Richmond, dispatcher Maria Bell said she got a few calls, but only for information. "It scared me," she said. "It shook pretty good."
Oakland Police Officer Jason Kaiser said the department had not received any calls for assistance. "It felt pretty strong," he said. "But it was really quick. A good little shake."
At Ellens Memorial Hospital in Richmond, a small retirement care facility, aide Marie Griffith said the quake "shook up everyone," but nobody was injured.
"It was a major, major jolt," she said.
Service on Bay Area Rapid Transit system trains from Richmond was briefly halted due to a power outage caused by the quake. Other lines were running slowly while engineers checked tracks for damage. A spokeswoman warned commuters to expect delays of up to an hour, while tracks are checked in the Berkeley hills and in the tube under San Francisco Bay.