Re: Fwd: Small Cohousing Groups
From: Denise Meier and/or Michael Jacob (dmmjwco.com)
Date: Wed, 14 May 1997 11:53:09 -0500
On Tue, 13 May 1997 MicalCedar [at] aol.com wrote:

> I have a question for people who are living in smaller (fewer than 20
> units) coho communities. Olympia Cohousing (WA state) desires to build a
> community of about 20 units. However, Olympia is a relatively small
> town, and we are realizing that it may be difficult to recruit 20+
> members. Also, we are having trouble locating property suitable for
> building that many units. 

We are also in a small town (7500 hundred people) however, we are 10
minutes from a city of 150,000, 30 minutes from Marin County and an hour
from the SF Bay Area, and so have a large pool to draw on of people who
want to get out of the urban sprawl but still want to stay close. Also,
Sebastopol is quite a desirable place to live. We still found that finding
14 families was a job, although not terribly hard (we have not yet begun
construction, and are full, which I believe is fairly uncommon). But if
Olympia is pretty much out by itself, and you don't have a larger area to
draw from, you may have an experience more like Chico, which was that they
pretty much drew in all the people who were interested IN Chico, and then
had to try to entice people to MOVE to Chico.

> 
> What would be the impact of scaling down our vision, say to 15 units? Do
> you folks who live in smaller communities feel overwhelmed by the amount
> of work? 

Yes (we don't live there yet, my comments are regarding DEVELOPING the
project)

Do you wish you had more members? 
Yes, to share the work

Or does the size feel right?
Strangely enough, Yes again. I agree with Ann that a smaller group is more
manageable in terms of making decisions and developing trust.

> Were the development costs higher (or lower?) because of your size? 

Yes, much! Amortizing the cost of the common house over 14 units instead
of 28 nearly doubles the per-unit cost. Sure it's a smaller common house,
but it's not half the size of one at a 28 unit community. Also there are a
number of costs that are large to start with and then go up per unit, such
as utilities hookup, road imporvements, so the perunit cost is still
higher with a smaller group of units. 


Denise Meier
Two Acre Wood
Sebastopol, CA

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