CITY PROFILE: Lafayette
Lafayette is one of the three cities that form the affluent community known as "Lamorinda", which also includes the separate cities of Moraga and Orinda. This area is bordered on the west and south by a high ridge separating it from Alameda County and on the east and north by the relatively flatter terrain of Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, and Martinez.
Most of Lafayette stretches west to east through a valley between two sets of hills, through which runs the main route to Oakland/San Francisco, Highway 24. There is very little land in the city on which to build new homes, so generally, people who want modern amenities renovate homes which were built during the 1940's through early 1960's.
Lafayette benefits from a high proportion of open space, excellent schools, easy access to rapid transit (BART), exceptional freeway egress, larger than average homes with generous lot sizes, homogeneous neighborhoods, and a strong sense of community. Lafayette suffers from moderate traffic congestion, traffic noise from highway 24, and has modest retail and entertainment opportunities. Lafayette is one of the most sought-after communities in the east bay area.
The Value Distribution Map (link below) shows the distribution of sales values in Lafayette, using a 2,500sf to 3,500sf home as a sample, evaluating sales from 2011 through 2014in quintiles of sales values.
In 1846 Elam Brown bought Rancho Acalanes and 300 head of cattle for $900. This rancho encompassed most of present day Lafayette. He built his home in an area called Happy Valley, and thus started the village which would become Lafayette. By 1879 there was a grist mill, school, church, hotel, blacksmith shop, post office, and two taverns.
Up until the 1940's Lafayette had evolved into an affluent but substantially rural community. The Kaiser family (ships, steel, health plan) settled in Lafayette in the 1940's building two large estates one at either end of the town. One of the homes still exists today elegantly preserved by the Taylor family.
The opening of the Caldecott Tunnel and a postwar exodus from the urban areas fired tremendous growth in the 1950's. Lafayette and Orinda became a geographical extension of the affluent Oakland/Berkeley Hills area. Lower income (smaller) housing evolved farther east from the tunnel in the Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and Concord areas.
Lafayette schools are among the finest in the Bay Area and State. The Lafayette Elementary District, which provides K- 8 education, achieved a 935 API rating for 2013. Kids attend one of four neighborhood elementary schools from K - 5. At 6th grade they progress to Stanley Intermediate which serves the entire district. A downloadable boundaries map is available at the district site. 2013 API scores vary from 956 for Happy Valley Elementary (north west) to 911 for Burton Valley Elementary (south east).
Kids transfer to the Acalanes High School District for the ninth grade. This is a four school district, where Lafayette students are assigned to one of two high schools: Acalanes High or Campolindo High, API ratings of 907 and 921 respectively. Most Lafayette students attend Acalanes, but some neighborhoods, mostly in the south end of town attend Campolindo. A school finder page is available at the district site.
There are some exceptions, most notably some areas of unincorporated Lafayette are served by the Alhambra High in Martinez or College Park (Pleasant Hill) in the Mt. Diablo School Districts, where the 2013 API ratings are 825 and 817 respectively. Neighborhoods served by these schools typically have lower home values.
High Schools Map - Shows State API Score by Location
(Above 900 is excellent - Under 700 is scary)