From: rc3-coho-L (
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 11:58:50 -0800 (PST)
Joani wrote:
> I have heard about a community somewhere in the U.S. (but never seen
> a site plan, so it may be just a fantasy) that dealt with a large
> minimum lot sizes by dividing their site into very tiny slivers of a
> pie and putting all the houses at the points and, I think,  the
> common house right in the middle.....or something like that.  Is this
> just a figment of my imagination or does it really exist?

I have been there. It is Forty Oaks Cohousing, in Petaluma, CA (in Sonoma
county in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area, quite near Frog Song in
Cotati, as the bird flies), which has been on and off of the cohousing
communities list because of some differences from the conventional model.
(there may be other communities designed this way as well.. I certainly
have seen some non-cohousing intentional communities that use this model
or similar "clustered nodes" plus a Common House-type structure: Shannon
Farm in Virginia comes to mind, and I just spent the weekend at the
30-year-old Monan's Rill near Santa Rosa, CA, which has a similar

Here's a Google Maps view:

A county planner suggested the configuration, according to a community
member: a 10 acre lot with 2 acres per home minimum lot sizes, if I
recall, so they put the houses at the points of pie-wedge-shaped lots,
creating a belt of greenspace around with the units clustered. The
community has been featured on cohousing tours organized by local
sustainability-education group Daily Acts, with the resident architect
Claudia Weaver participating. Some very green/natural (Rastra and similar
materials) construction is involved.

tour description:

There is no Common House (yet... that's why sometimes they don't get
counted as cohousing, despite the intent and layout and facilities and
naming), but there is a common barn and common lake and the units were
built with large kitchens that could accomodate large groups dining
together on a regular basis. Plus each unit gets to have an "in-law"
detached smaller cottage that can then be rented out as an effectively
independent unit (like the downstairs rooms with independent entrances at
Nyland Cohousing in Colorado and Jackson Place in Seattle). Plus, since
the definition of a unit is a kitchen and the definition of a kitchen is a
stove, they created large units that have essentially two households with
two independent kitchens linked by a single shared stove. I was very
impressed with the creativity that lets them be legal and get all the
advantages of working in the system (financing, approval) yet acheiving
their goals, getting enough families onboard to be able to afford the
project, and make it sustainable, preserve open space, etc.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
Planning for Sustainable Communities
at Berkeley (CA) Cohousing

Regional Organizer, Northern California Cohousing
Thanking everyone who helped at our Green Festival booth last weekend, and
inviting all to our Communities Convergence and workshops this weekend in
Berkeley, featuring "Creating a Life Together" and "Finding Community"
author Diana Leafe Christian

recovering from major email disruption, so please excuse my recent absence

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