Frequently Asked Questions

With this FAQ, we try to answer all of your questions about Inclusive Lafayette. If you happen to be interested in learning more, you can always email us at or post any questions directly to our Facebook page.

What is Inclusive Lafayette?

We are a grassroots organization committed to promoting social justice in our town. From our mission statement, “Inclusive Lafayette exists to encourage inclusivity in Lafayette, California through affordable, sustainable housing and land use policies. We strive to help create a community where people of all backgrounds can afford to live by combatting the legacy of racism in Lafayette, the Bay Area, and the United States as a whole. To achieve this goal, we support multi-family housing development. By Lafayette community members, for Lafayette community members present and future, building an equitable world starts at home."

Who leads Inclusive Lafayette now?

Like many nonprofits, Inclusive Lafayette has a governing board that directs the organization. Several subcommittees operate within the board, and general members are encouraged to participate in those subcommittees. Learn more about IL’s board and its subcommittees from this sheet. You can see meeting times on IL’s Google Calendar.

Inclusivity takes so many forms! Why does Inclusive Lafayette focus on housing and land use so much when there are so many other important areas to work on as well?

Discriminatory housing policies are a major factor behind persistent discrimination and inequity in our country. Until 1968, people of color were legally excluded from getting mortgages or buying homes in cities throughout the country. This effectively restricted the accumulation of wealth through home equity to white families. On a national level, racial disparities in homeownership and wealth have only grown since 1970, even though explicitly racist lending practices have been banned for decades.

Lafayette is no exception. Many of our housing covenants featured explicitly racist restrictions that were designed to keep our community white. After the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, we incorporated as a city and passed restrictive building codes and zoning to prevent additional development. As a result, our population has been relatively stagnant over the past 50 years, even as the greater Bay Area has grown significantly. Today, Lafayette is one of the most racially segregated and least diverse cities in the Bay Area.

We do support inclusivity outside of housing, and there are a number of local groups who do excellent work to promote inclusivity in our community. We believe that housing and land use issues are often overlooked in these discussions, and they’re important and complex enough to merit specific focus. In order to effectively promote racial equality and diversity in Lafayette, we must address the root causes behind its segregation.

How can I join Inclusive Lafayette’s leadership?

Anyone can join IL’s board, regardless of experience, qualifications, or political orientation. All you need to do is support the organization’s mission of creating a more equitable, inclusive world through affordable housing development. Sign up to join IL’s board using this Google Form, which will kickstart your process of becoming a board member! After filling out the form, email to make sure somebody sees your work.

Who started this group and why?

Two brothers, Jeremy and Benji Levine, founded Inclusive Lafayette on June 15, 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd by law enforcement officers and the ensuing protests. They wanted to fight for social justice, but they didn’t know how they could most effectively get involved. Reflecting on their upbringings, Jeremy and Benji recognized that they grew up in an exceptionally white, wealthy area (Lafayette) with a limited supply of affordable housing.

A number of other community members quickly joined and became founding members of IL. Alison Hill, Chris Mickas, Nicole Wan, Tobias Bodine, John Kalil Tess Olsson, Casey Lee, and Gabe Newman became the founding board of Inclusive Lafayette, the architects of the organizations core strategies and structure.

The connection between housing and discrimination is well established (see above FAQ question “How are housing policies and racial discrimination connected?”), yet no organized movement to support affordable housing development existed in Lafayette before IL began. In fact, the most powerful political groups in Lafayette opposed housing development, often spreading malicious misinformation in the process. So we set out to fill the void with Inclusive Lafayette, an organization dedicated to promoting affordable housing development as well as civil conversation based on evidence from reputable sources. Building a better world starts at home.

Why is Inclusive Lafayette so focused on making Lamorinda or Lafayette “inclusive” as opposed to ensuring all communities can prosper and flourish in the same manner as Lamorinda does?

IL supports working alongside other communities to ensure they flourish as well as working to make Lafayette inclusive! Both are important, and both will be necessary to fully address housing inequity.

However, it’s perfectly ok for individuals or organizations to only focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time. Confronting discrimination, especially racial discrimination, is a huge process, and even addressing just one aspect of it can be incredibly time consuming. Inclusive Lafayette emphasizes housing policy in Lafayette (and the whole Lamorinda area!) because we are already using all of our free time trying to move the needle here. Racism is a pyramid, the destruction of which will require everyone actively working to chip away a gajillion bricks.

Is Inclusive Lafayette part of the YIMBY (Yes In My BackYard) movement?

YIMBY and IL have no direct affiliation. Individuals affiliated with Inclusive Lafayette are welcome to have their own, independent relationships with YIMBY. When issues of overlapping interest arise, YIMBY and Inclusive Lafayette communicate about and partner on their responses.

What political party does Inclusive Lafayette affiliate with?

Supporting intelligent housing and land use policies transcends political affiliation. No matter where on the political spectrum you fall, your views are welcome in Inclusive Lafayette. Everyone can unite around policies that increase freedom and housing supply, therefore creating more choices for consumers and cheaper housing options.

Of course, allowing views of any political orientation in Inclusive Lafayette does not mean that all views are allowed in Inclusive Lafayette. Personal attacks of any kind, particularly hate speech, are not allowed; racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc. are not welcome. Claims must be presented with evidence from reputable sources or they will be censured.

I opposed the Terraces of Lafayette development proposal, and Inclusive Lafayette supports the development. How can I trust your organization?

Reasonable people who respect each other can hold different stances on the Terraces of Lafayette. Inclusive Lafayette supported the Terraces because 20% (63) of the development’s units are to be made available to low-income renters. State law also created a set of incentives that meant Lafayette would almost certainly face legal consequences if we were to deny the Terraces. We respect those who do not agree with our perspective, and we think differences in opinion have nothing to do with reliability.

When discussing the Terraces, Inclusive Lafayette had one primary goal: Engage our community in a respectful, evidence-based discussion about available information from reputable sources and the relevant laws. We worked very hard to present sourcing for all of our claims, which we encouraged polite discussion over.

Either way, Inclusive Lafayette engages with much more important issues than any single development. We spend most of our time trying to increase civic engagement and helping to inform our fellow community members about complex policy issues. We’re always open to civil, fact-based conversations about any topic, even if people disagree.

Why should Lafayette have to build housing when so many other cities across California, even within Lamorinda, are not building the same way?

Lafayette is a leader in the East Bay, an example of an efficiently run government with a civically engaged community. We are among the best-run cities in California because we make decisions independently, regardless of what anyone else is doing. California is in a housing crisis; current development patterns contribute to climate change; our community has so much to offer potential future residents—the case for more development in the right places could go on and on. We want to lead our region forward, inspiring others to follow in our footsteps, instead of getting bogged down in “what-aboutism.”

I support affordable housing development, but I’m worried about the environmental impacts of new development in our town.

Transit-oriented, multi-family density development is actually more environmentally friendly than other kinds!

Let’s break through the jargon: “Transit-oriented” refers to housing built near public transit, like Lafayette’s BART station, and “multi-family” essentially means apartments (rather than single-family homes). Evidence from the EPA and the Sierra Club supports this belief! By promoting multi-family housing development, Inclusive Lafayette is supporting the most sustainable form of development.

Wouldn’t no development be the most sustainable form of development?

If Lafayette existed in its own isolated bubble, no development would certainly be more sustainable than transit-oriented multi-family development. In the real world, where we are part of the Bay Area region, the state of California, and the United States of America, every house not built in areas like Lafayette’s downtown ends up getting built somewhere else, often on top of untouched natural environment. Encouraging construction of multi-family housing complexes in the downtown area will prevent environmental degradation in other areas, including our hills and ridgelines. It will also enable people to live more sustainable lives, as residents living in Lafayette’s downtown will be able to walk to grocery stores, nearby shops and restaurants, and public transit like BART.

I support affordable housing development, but I don’t like state laws forcing us to build certain amounts in certain ways. We should spend our energy resisting state laws.

California is in the midst of a housing crisis that has led to a massive surge of poverty and homelessness. If our community genuinely cares about social justice, then we should care about allowing more housing to be built no matter what the state wants us to do. Either way, we can simultaneously devote energy to changing state laws and to approving space for the housing that will ensure we do not suffer consequences for ignoring state mandates. Preserving local autonomy requires acknowledging state mandates to some extent.