Re: Controversy over attached garages
From: Hungerford, David (
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 94 12:48 CDT
The garage issue has apparently touched all sorts of nerves, especially in 
David Adams, whose "flaming" reply illustrated my point exactly while missing 
it on a conscious level. So, let me be attempt to be little more clear:  As 
house designs have changed to accomodate the automobile, the tool shed, mud 
room, and in California, the basement, have all been eliminated *because the 
garage filled (imperfectly, in my opinion) those functions*  The need for a 
garage now goes far beyond its function as car storage, to the point where it 
is really erroneous to associate garages with cars because of the myriad 
other needs, especially storage, which it fills. As someone who lives 
with three children in 1124 sqft without a basement, tool shed, or garage,  I 
can testify that, unless you're into throwing things away, it is very 
difficult to live without storage.  And that is the experience I offer to 
the people on this list trying to design and build their own communities, 
that is, in the rush to degrade the automobile and symbolically diminish its 
importance (as well as save money) by eliminating garages, be sure not to 
overlook the other functions garages serve--especially private storage.

David Adams also suggested that the need for storage could be eliminated by 
simply selling/swapping stuff when you don't need it and buying it when you 
do.  I buy almost everything second-hand, and sell or give away what I don't 
need.  But the problem with the shadow economy is that stuff isn't always 
available when you need it, you grab it when you come across it--which 
requires storage.  The most talented reuser/recycler I know, a dumpster diver 
par excellance who has supplied N. St, Muir Commons, and our local shelters 
and food banks with amazing amounts of found items, maintains a wonderful 
boneyard of everything you can imagine, but which to most people looks like a 
junk yard.  Really reusing/recycling takes space, folks.

The other issue is close driving access to houses, either for parking 
or for unloading.  You're right, David, kids generally enjoy sledding and 
adults hate slogging through the snow with groceries.  The point is, the two 
activities don't go together; managing young children from the car to the 
house after a shopping trip can be one of the most difficult tasks one faces 
in a day.  Living in cohousing doesn't change that, nor does living in 
cohousing eliminate the need for a car (a function of where you live in 
relation to work and shopping, the weather, and your schedule.)  When we 
designed our site, we had to get a variance from the city planning commission 
to have less than 2.5 spaces per unit and to cluster parking away from the 
houses.  Even with that kind of "group commitment" to reducing our dependence 
on the automobile, visitors have to park on the surrounding streets, to 
the consternation of our neighbors, and many people here still park as close 
to their houses as they can, even parking in our "loading zones" and on the 
street and putting the cars we were trying to get away from in our faces. 

As far as group process goes, David Adams wrote:
>(*) A cohousing group has a right to state as a value that some, most, all, 
>or even none of the community be pedestrian-oriented.  The members of the 
>group need to sign onto whichever vision has been concensed. 

Wait a minute.  This doesn't sound like consensus to me. If there are 
people who are not happy with a decision, they shouldn't have to "sign on" to 
the majority opinion.  One of the things we've had to deal with as 
people have moved on and others have taken their place is that future policy 
must reflect the needs and vision of the CURRENT members of the group, 
otherwise there is no consensus.

As an aside, it is also the case, as Pablo Halpern pointed 
out, that designing for auto access AND pedestrian orientation is possible, 
you simply put alleys behind the houses.

David Adams also derided the automobile as the symbol of everything that is 
wrong with American Society.  To each his own, my "everything that's wrong" 
symbol is Las Vegas.

David Hungerford
living in Muir Commons without a garage or a basement for three years and 
condemned to never winning because he never plays
dghungerford [at]

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