Bret Harte, San Rafael

 a hip, younger crowd is slowly transforming this up-and-coming neighborhood into a modern gem


Welcome to Bret Harte, San Rafael

Marin County has few neighborhoods as convenient to San Francisco, family-friendly, and with a median price-point of under $1 million dollars, as Bret Harte.  This network of sweet, California ranch-style homes meandering up the hillside between downtown San Rafael and the 101 is a tight-knit community (think trick-or-treating, block parties, kids and dogs) of many younger families who have moved into the neighborhood looking for a reasonable price-point with opportunities to upgrade and bring these older homes into the 21st century.  Public schools in the area can be tricky, but worth investigating (see below).  

When in bret harte.....

  • Try to limit your dose of Sol Food to once a month.  Fail miserably.  
  • Walk to nearby West End for dinner.  Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian... 
  • Johnny's Donuts for fancy, organic weekend treats.
  • Walk to Le Comptoir for French cheese and a bottle of wine to take home.
  • Get to Trader Joe's/Whole Foods in 5 minutes or less.  

Price Per Square Foot


Median Home Price


Walkability Score


Walk/Bike score says, "Walkers paradise." 





Bret Harte families generally attend either Coleman or Laurel Dell Elementary School. Check with San Rafael City School District boundary map here.  Many areas in Bret Harte are joint Coleman-Laurel Dell boundary zones, so families can request either Coleman or Laurel Dell and the district tries - but does not guarantee - to place families in their first choice of school.  Check with the school district about per-grade enrollment levels to see if there is space in the neighborhood schools. 



Coleman Elementary is part of the San Rafael City Schools District.  Like most schools in Marin County, there is a funding gap between what the school receives from the State and the cost of a high-quality education.  Read more about finding your way around a California School District here.  Coleman Elementary raises needed funds for "extras" like art, PE, music, and technology with a combination of PTO fundraising (this money stays at the school), and Head's Up (the large, District fundraising structure which pools and distributes money across the District). Head's Up also receives money from a County-wide program designed to support public schools, Schools Rule.  An important distinction is that San Rafael City schools are not restricted in how much money they can raise for the school by a requirement to share funds raised with the District.  This means that schools in more affluent communities will generally raise more money than schools serving a lower-income population.  Coleman has a strong and active PTO.  In addition, the city of San Rafael voted in 2015 to approve a Bond measure which will pay for a $269 million dollar improvement program across the District.  The goal will be to create "safe, innovative learning environments and instructional technology to support 21st Century learning" across the District. Construction on this project will unfold over the next eight years.

Laurel Dell Elementary  

Great Schools Rating: 4/10 | School Grade Rating: D

Laurel Dell Elementary is also part of the San Rafael City School District.  Like Coleman, it is supported by Head's Up, and a PTA, and will also benefit from the recently passed Bond measure.  As a school that serves a wide and diverse population, and a large community of ESL students, Laurel Dell has some amazing enrichment partnerships with the larger community who are involved in supporting the school, including Marin Shakespeare, Young Imaginations, and Youth in Arts.  It has the added benefit of greater cultural and ethnic diversity than many homogenous Marin communities.  



Davidson Middle School serves a large, diverse community in San Rafael.  It is also part of the San Rafael City Schools District.  Funds are raised through a combination of PTA and District support, though the Head's Up program.  


High schoolers in this neighborhood attend public San Rafael High School.  

San Rafael City public schools generally serve a wider spectrum of families, more reflective of the state and country as a whole than the more homogenous, extremely affluent communities in other areas of Marin County.  Lower test scores and issues with lower funding and high enrollment are issues that may drive some families to private school, although many students in the San Rafael City District attend public school and find opportunities for enrichment and engagement with the larger, more diverse community. Popular private choices are St. Patrick's (Larkspur), St. Anselm's (San Anselmo), San Domenico (which has an efficient bus service from San Rafael to the San Anselmo campus), Mark Day School (San Rafael), Marin Country Day (Corte Madera), and Marin Academy (private high school in San Rafael).



by car to golden gate bridge: 20 min

Commute to the 101 is super easy and convenient.  

Hand-Picked Bret Harte, San Rafael Realtors

jason holmes

Consistently ranking in the top 1% of Marin-Sonoma County realtors, Jason Holmes loves what he does, and the results speak for themselves.  An avid outdoorsman and father of three daughters, he prides himself on local knowledge of all kinds, from the best bike trails to public and private school options, to an extensive network of vendors on-call for his clients for everything from contractors to tile guys and movers.  As co-owner of Holmes Burrell Realtors, Jason manages a media-savvy in-house team of marketers and PR experts to maximize exposure for his listings. He operates by a client-centered, client-driven philosophy and makes every client his top priority, no matter the budget.  

"Jason was excellent and we could not have asked for more from our agent.  He continually exceeded my expectations in follow up, understanding our goals and ensuring that we purchased the perfect home.  I never once felt like this was a guy just trying to sell us a home.  Jason asked us questions about our goals, listened to our responses and then set out to find us exactly what we were looking for in a second home...we could not be more pleased with his work, his ethics and his knowledge.  I highly recommend him and will not hesitate to call him when we are looking for our next home."

Phone: 415.686.0589


Yoko kasai

Yoko Kasai and her three partners at Front Porch Realty Group believe in collaborative, friendly alliances with their clients, always with their best interests in mind. They combine high touch boutique service with comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the market. They believe that bigger is not often better and their casual, open, and friendly style attracts people that they love to work with. 

"I could not rate Yoko higher. She went above and beyond my expectations as a REALTOR. I will recommend her to anyone I know who is looking to buy or sell a home."

Phone: 415.847.6519


Liz McCarthy is a top producing Marin agent, awarded the prestigious "Outstanding Service Award" in 2009 by the California Women's Council of Realtors.  She prides herself on generating a referral-based business, working tirelessly for her clients.  Liz specializes in helping prospective homebuyers find the perfect Marin County neighborhood, and even hosts bi-monthly seminars for anyone thinking of moving to Marin County, with information about local schools, traffic, weather and more. Her top priority is going above and beyond for her clients with her thoroughness, honesty and attention to detail.     

"When you pick someone to represent you, you need someone who knows the area, and has contacts.  This is what ultimately helped us buy an affordable place in a highly sought after neighborhood — Liz’s connections.  The house never went on the market and we are so lucky because if it did we would’ve never survived a bidding war."

Phone: (415) 250-4929


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