Cars and parking
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 10:55:07 -0500

>From Lynn at RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend Washington:

I'd be the first to agree that The Car has had a lot to do with 
disintegration of community in the world: as people no longer work at 
home or on their farm, children get on a schoolbus and never see their 
classmates in their neighborhood, transport happens in a closed metal 
box, instead of walkers passing.

But one needn't assume that the only way cohousers can feel close is to 
park away from the house. Maybe, like us, you'll find that your local 
Fire Department and Public Works department are adamant that you have to 
design streets to all your homes. We were afraid that people parking by 
their own home would have terrible effects. And it hasn't. 

All the factors that make cohousing full of intention and opportunity to 
interact are plenty to absorb the impact of personal parking. We don't 
drive to our cohousing neighbors' homes: we walk, because there are 
paths, and because it's close, and because we enjoy crossing paths with 
others who are "out".  We walk to the gardens. When our common house is 
done, we'll walk there (as we already walk down to the bank of mailboxes 
that are temporarily in the common house parking lot). 

On the other hand, we drive up to our own home, which is very useful with 
a lot of stuff to load or unload, in messy weather, with a sleeping 
child, etc. Even as I unload or vacuum at my car, friends pass by and 
talk with me. 

A number of our members are older, and the fact that my parking is by my 
accessible entry and home, means fellow members can still visit me, even 
with new hip replacements and other lameness. 

As we are still designing our common house, we also have big meetings and 
potlucks in our larger homes, and a car can pull up with easels, chairs, 
big things of food, and so on. 

Pick-ups and deliveries are easy--- propane and other heating fuel, loads 
of topsoil-gravel-bark, UPS, trash and recycling. Repair vehicles (with 
cherry-picker recently to repair solar roof panels next door). 

Noting whose car is home, or whose car is visiting someone, turns out to 
be a helpful indicator that a friend is home  and could be phoned or 

I wouldn't recommend TRYING to have at-home parking, but know that it can 
work just fine. And when you design "pod" or "lot" parking, keep in mind 
the above observations, and think about how it will work when there are 
deliveries, people who can't walk much, etc. I imagine it would be good 
to have a shed at the parking lot with sturdy garden carts, maybe a hose 
and electric outlet, and easy level access from the lot to homes. 
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