Re: Neighborhood opposition and Eugene Cohousing
From: Philip Dowds (rphilipdowdsme.com)
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2018 06:02:02 -0700 (PDT)
One of the construction project challenges that has emerged over the last four 
or five decades is the increasing prevalence of special permits in lieu of 
as-of-right permits.
      In the old-fashioned as-of-right system, the rules were unequivocal:  
“You can build your thing within these limits, and with these features.”  The 
building inspector measured a bunch of parameters on the drawings, and if the 
design was compliant with the zoning rules, you got your permit (no public 
hearing required).
      But with modern let’s-make-a-deal special permitting, it’s more like 
this: “You can build a tiny thing as-of-right.  But if you want to build a 
bigger, better thing, then you must meet these extra design standards and 
provide public benefits”. Where as-of-right rules were non-ambiguous (“No more 
than 40 feet tall”), the new “design standards” trend toward the subjective 
(“At a height compatible with similar buildings in the neighborhood”).  Which 
is why the building inspector is no longer qualified to make the permit 
decision.  To get your bigger/better permit, you now must bargain with the 
Planning Board, and do all these public hearings.

Well, the above is something of a hyperbolic over-simplification, and the 
now-ubiquitous special permit “design reviews” often do encourage (or compel) 
more consideration of the public good.  But an unintended side effect is that 
project design review has empowered neighbors:  When angry neighbors (often 
well-known to the Planning Board members) show up to complain, the Board is 
usually very reluctant to award a special permit without the applicant making 
significant “concessions" — even when the Board members know that the 
complaints are not grounded in reality, or even dissimulations.

I do agree that much or most public resistance is now driven by fear.  Not a 
generic fear of the new or unfamiliar, but rather a generic fear of change and 
loss.  I think many or most Americans now feel like they are living in a time 
of great insecurity and fragility, and that any kind of change may trigger an 
unexpected forfeiture or disaster from which recovery will be impossible.  We 
no longer live in a climate of optimism and ingenuity.  I do not know when such 
a climate will return.

Thanks,
Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at] comcast.net

> On Aug 6, 2018, at 9:34 PM, mmaskall [at] pacbell.net wrote:
> 
> Tricia and all,
> 
> 
> 
> I have learned in my 13 year cohousing journey that virtually ALL neighbors
> are NIMBY.  I agree with Katie that it's fear-based.  We at Fair Oaks
> EcoHousing are FINALLY under construction (with move-in expected in Spring
> 2019).  It's our third site, and we've been beaten up a lot by neighbors,
> despite our best effort to reach out.  We're in the Sacramento area, and we
> have a few homes still available.
> 
> 
> 
> You might be interested in my  Ten Tips for Success in Building a Cohousing
> Community
> 
> 
> 
> 1.    Join if you can!  It's much easier to join an existing community
> than to start a new one.
> 2.    Appreciate the efforts of others who start a community - they need
> our support.
> 3.    Get good help.  We hired Katie McCamant of CoHousing Solutions, and
> that has made a world of difference.
> 4.    Learn all you can.  Go to every Cohousing Conference.  Buy the
> Cohousing books.  Go to events & ask questions.  Get leadership training.
> 5.    Sell your vision to get others on board.
> 6.    Get land as soon as possible.  Until you get land, nothing is real.
> 7.    Avoid rezones.  Rezones are difficult and contentious.  
> 8.    NIMBY abounds.  Recognize that virtually everyone opposes
> development in their neighborhood.  Most are NIMBY neighbors, many are
> BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.)
> 9.    Persist & avoid getting discouraged.  Obstacles are everywhere.
> Nothing takes the place of persistence.
> 10.   Protect your health.  Strive for balance, eat well, have fun, and
> get enough sleep.
> 
> Marty Maskall is a web designer, author, and publisher.  She has published
> two books of inspiring quotations:  The Attitude Treasury: 101 Inspiring
> Quotations, and The Athena Treasury: 101 Inspiring Quotations by Women. 
> When Marty visited Southside Park Cohousing in downtown Sacramento in 2003,
> she fell in love with the beautiful common green.  She was inspired by the
> vision of a friendly community where neighbors know and care about each
> other.  She decided she wanted to live in cohousing.   Marty Maskall has
> been working to build a cohousing community in the Sacramento Suburbs since
> 2005.  Attempts in Orangevale and Folsom failed because of the economy,
> neighborhood opposition, and zoning issues.  With Fair Oaks EcoHousing, it
> seems the third time is the charm!
> 
> 
> 
> You can reach Marty at  www.FairOaksEcoHousing.org
> <http://www.FairOaksEcoHousing.org> , mmaskall [at] gmail.com
> <mailto:mmaskall [at] gmail.com> , or 916-967-2472.  A few homes are still
> available - please check us out.  
> 
> 
> 
> Message: 4
> 
> Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2018 18:59:35 +0000
> 
> From: Kathryn McCamant <kmccamant [at] cohousing-solutions.com
> <mailto:kmccamant [at] cohousing-solutions.com> >
> 
> To: "cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org <mailto:cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org> "
> <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org <mailto:cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org> >
> 
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Eugene Cohousing (Lynn Dixon)
> 
> Message-ID:
> 
>            <9E8F1CB4-41A5-4221-815B-8E661C1B4678 [at] cohousing-solutions.com
> <mailto:9E8F1CB4-41A5-4221-815B-8E661C1B4678 [at] cohousing-solutions.com> >
> 
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> 
> 
> 
> Tricia, 
> 
> 
> 
> I must disagree with your assessment of the Oakleigh Meadow situation. I
> have seen a lot of neighborhood opposition in my 30 years of designing and
> developing cohousing and affordable housing communities. I work under the
> assumption that all new projects will have opposition. The only time I
> haven't seen opposition is when the proposed project was being built on a
> property that was a known drug den (Berkeley Cohousing). Having spent
> thousands of hours attempting to work with neighbors, I have come to the
> view that most of it is driven by fear, and is not very rational.  
> 
> 
> 
> Just as interesting, most all of the oppositions' concerns goes away after
> you move in. Living next to a construction site is never fun. But after the
> community moves in, cohousing neighbors are the most conscious neighbors you
> could ask for. I have a collection of letters collected by Marty Maskall
> from neighbors that originally opposed an adjacent cohousing project, and
> ended up really appreciating them as neighbors. One even had their
> daughter's wedding in the common house. 
> 
> 
> 
> So, I absolutely DO NOT think neighborhood opposition leads to long term
> resentments. Cohousers are great neighbors, and a plus to any neighborhood.
> And guess what?  Turns out having 2-story condos across the street doesn't
> destroy your way of life. 
> 
> 
> 
> Katie
> 
> --
> 
> Kathryn McCamant, President
> 
> CoHousing Solutions
> 
> Nevada City, CA 95959
> 
> T.530.478.1970  C.916.798.4755
> 
> 
> 
> www.cohousing-solutions.com <http://www.cohousing-solutions.com> 
> 
> 
> 
> _________________________________________________________________
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