Re: co-op house within cohousing community
From: Beverly Jones Redekop (
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:59:47 -0700 (PDT)
Yes, I think San Francisco is very different from Yarrow, BC, which is one
hour east of Vancouver. A 2000 s.f. duplex unit here would cost under
$500,000 Canadian dollars.

Still, the co-op house uses up a good deal of the residents' bandwidth for
cooperation and community. I think cohousing should provide the shared
element to make people in suites more involved in the community rather than

In our community, some people use the common house laundry and some people
have private machines. Sharing puts people more into the community instead
of less. If the shared laundry was for certain people in a separate
building that they had to manage among themselves separately from the whole
community, it would be more like a quad situation where it pulls them from
the community.

The 300-800 s.f. suites with bedroom, sitting area, and bathroom could be a
floor in the common house, either with private bachelor-suite kitchenettes
in their suites or with a shared kitchen for suites on that floor.

I think there would be advantages if the co-op was only the community

Interestingly, our newly settled-feeling quad has one single 20-something
woman, one 30&40 something heterosexual couple, a single 50-something man,
and a 40-something single father of twin boys. This differs from the
expected 20-somethings or four older women.

On Fri, Jul 21, 2017, 5:32 AM Mariana Almeida via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> Beverly - Where are you guys located?
> I would differentiate the quad experiences based on the region's housing
> reality.
> I think quads would attract a very different type of person in my region
> of  high priced rentals San Francisco East Bay.
> There are many, many financially established, stable, mature households
> that can't afford to buy here, ever. They are looking for stable rental
> housing to stay in for a loooong time. They may currently live with
> roommates, too, so not having a private kitchen is not a deterrent.
> I wish we had some quads so that we could attract 20something and 30
> somethings to our community.
> Mariana
> Berkeley Cohousing, Berkeley, Calif
> On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 12:23:46 PM PDT, Beverly Jones Redekop <
> beverly.jones.redekop [at]> wrote:
> Hi Katie and cohousing-L,
> 1. I know that many of my neighbours feel this way. Towards the end of our
> pre-construction marketing phase, the two "D" (large) units seemed slow to
> sell, so the quad proponent suggested turning them into two more quads.
> When we have those "remember when" conversations, we all refer to the time
> we almost ended up with two more quads as a bullet we are very grateful to
> have dodged. Many people still brainstorm about how we can buy out the quad
> to renovate it into two regular two-storey townhome units. (Perhaps this
> will change given that the quad seems stable and positive for the first or
> second time in seven years as of this summer.)
> 2.  We have had very nice people live there, but they always try to move
> out into a regular unit with a private kitchen (or with just one roommate)
> as soon as they can. One lovely woman held the quad together for 3 1/2
> years, but she has now moved into a regular single-household unit too.
> Some of our treasured stable residents had stints in the quad, but their
> stints were of a temporary nature.
> 3.  The quad has high turnover, so it feels transient because the residents
> are transient.  I think people prefer to have their own kitchen.  One owner
> has had to find renters for her (very nice) suite three or four times this
> year.  (I think she has found stable community members now.)  This is
> challenging for her, and it is also a bother for the community.  We always
> hope that quad renters will integrate into the community, so we still go
> through the whole process (tour, social event, business meeting, work
> party, explorations meeting, welcome letter, adding to village listserv,
> offering dinner participation, orientation to workshare, etc...).  The
> process usually feels like a waste of MANY community hours for people who
> do not end up connecting and whose stay ends up being of a more temporary
> nature.  I don't think that it is something we have brought upon ourselves
> by being unwelcoming, as we do do the full process when possible, and we do
> always try to invest more to turn the quad around (which perhaps has
> worked?).
> 4. Cohousing is already complex, and this adds another level of
> complexity.  We have had levies to attempt to finish development after our
> troubles, and  the discount given by the community to the quad goes
> disproportionately to some owners in the quad.  The details don't matter
> that much: the bother is that when we try to pass something like a levy, we
> have to talk about the situation of one of our 33 homes for a quarter of
> the time.
> 5.  We expected the quad's four bed-sitting suites to accommodate four
> singles or couples, but some units are quite large, and many renters sublet
> extra bedrooms, so there have often been seven unrelated adults in the quad
> using seven or more parking spots.  We imagined four or five people (with
> three or four cars) who adored community and couldn't quite afford to be
> here.  This is not what usually happened in the first years.
> 6. Anything that brings additional complexity to the community requires
> greater-than-average transparency, which didn't happen.  The 3200 square
> foot quad is officially 2500 square feet because its 700 square foot attic
> is some clever height (6'11"? or 7'11"?) that makes that space not count as
> living space even though people live there.  It was originally owned by
> construction workers and managers who paid some of their costs through
> sweat equity that was not clearly understood by others. Sweat equity may
> well be a good idea, but looking back, it should have been defined much
> more clearly and much more publicly.  Local zoning doesn't allow for a
> four-suite home unless you get zoning as a rooming house, so the quad was
> built as a large single-family home with some clever renovations /
> additional walls to split it up after the occupancy permit was granted.  It
> should just be done transparently according to local code and zoning even
> if it feels slower or more expensive at the time.
> 7. With a couple of notable exceptions, quad residents have not
> participated in workshare or attended community meetings.  I imagine that
> this is either because they do not feel connected to the community or
> because they already feel busy sharing the responsibilities of the quad
> itself: after negotiating the cleaning of their common kitchen, they might
> not have bandwidth for contributing to the community common house kitchen.
> I think they think they have already done their community time within the
> quad itself.
> We have had extremely nice people in the quad over the past seven years
> among the long list of in-and-out transients whose names we can barely
> remember despite investing our orientation hours in them.  I would suggest
> that other communities build bachelor suites or tiny one-bedroom units to
> accommodate financial diversity instead of a quad.  The other conventional
> city floor plan of a unit with two separated master suites would allow two
> unrelated adults or couples to share a unit, but it gets too complex after
> that, in my view.  Even fighting city hall for permission to have hookups
> and spots for a few tiny houses would be simpler than a quad.  If a
> community wishes to grant permanent discounts to some homes, make a few
> low-income units, designate the threshold for "low income" and keep a
> transparent record of the intended permanent discounts (if any) in strata
> fees, workshare hours, and levies for those units.
> I really like the community-minded people that have come together in the
> quad this summer, and I have high hopes that this will be a stable set up
> for years to come.  I look forward to being proved wrong about the quad and
> moving beyond the hundreds of wasted hours on orienting in-and-out
> residents....but I also still recommend that other communities do NOT try
> this model.  If I had a time machine, I would gift my community with
> greater peace and happiness by preventing stacked units (!!!) and by
> preventing the quad.
> Lest my detailed report gives an incorrect impression, we have a
> high-functioning community full of friendships, shared meals, beautiful
> gardens, and dance parties.  My five-year-old can name each of the 61
> adults, 41 children, and pets. I'm glad to be here.
> Hope this helps,
> Beverly
> On Tue, Jul 18, 2017, 3:43 PM Kathryn McCamant <
> kmccamant [at]> wrote:
> >
> > Beverly,
> >
> > I would love to hear more about how the quad has worked out. It seemed
> > like a great way to include people that can’t afford to buy into a whole
> > unit in a community, further diversifying our communities economically,
> and
> > potentially with younger people or others not ready to purchase.  As I
> > understand it, it was a group of cohousing residents and supporters that
> > invested in the “quad” and then rent out the suites.
> >
> > What were the issues that made you describe it as “mostly been a
> > disconnected transient
> >    annoyance for the community” ?
> >
> > Do you have thoughts on what would make it work better?
> >
> > Recommendations for other communities?
> >
> > Do you think other residents in Yarrow EV feel the same way?
> >
> > We need the feedback to go from theory on what works to what is really
> > working out there, so much appreciate hearing more on this.
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Katie
> > --
> > Kathryn McCamant, President
> > CoHousing Solutions
> > Nevada City, CA 95959
> >
> > T.530.478.1970 <(530)%20478-1970>  C.916.798.4755 <(916)%20798-4755>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On 7/18/17, 3:17 PM, "Cohousing-L on behalf of Beverly Jones Redekop"
> > < [at] on
> > behalf of beverly.jones.redekop [at]> wrote:
> >
> >
> >    Groundswell Cohousing at Yarrow Ecovillage has one unit (out of 33)
> > that is
> >    known as "the quad" because it has four separate bedroom/living
> >    room/bathroom suites plus a shared kitchen and living room. The four
> > owners
> >    (only one lives there) share it through a co-op called Heartspring.
> >
> >    It is seven years old, and it has mostly been a disconnected transient
> >    annoyance for the community, but it seems to have come into its own
> > this
> >    summer with involved people who care about participating in the
> > community.
> >    Who knows? Maybe it can work.
> >
> >    On Tue, Jul 18, 2017, 1:20 PM John Carver <jcarver [at]>
> > wrote:
> >
> >
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> >
> >
> >
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