Article on New Brighton Cohousing
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2008 09:24:34 -0700 (PDT)
Randa Johnson <cohoranda [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
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Here is a nice article on New Brighton Cohousing from one of our local

Randa Johnson
New Brighton Cohousing
Aptos, CA

Forging an old-fashioned sense of community
Posted: Thursday, Jul 24th, 2008

Chuck Johnson shows a quilt with hand prints from members of the New
Brighton Cohousing project in Aptos Wednesday as Randa Johnson looks on.
APTOS -- Howie Schneider used to live on Glen Canyon Road in a house on
a nice spot amongst the redwoods, but felt something was missing:

"The only time I got to see a neighbor was when I got the mail and
waved," Schneider said.

Holly Stires, coming off splitting up with her husband, was also looking
for community, as well as a safe, welcoming place where she could raise
her two young boys.

Schneider, Stires and others say they have found what they were looking
for in New Brighton Cohousing, a cluster of 11 townhouse units oriented
around a main house and a grassy central courtyard. Fourteen adults and
six children live on the site -- located on Soquel Drive just north of
Cabrillo College.

Residents live amongst each other, holding shared meals weekly,
conducting community workdays in which everyone chips in on projects and
making decisions about their neighborhood collectively, but also have
their own units to go to if they want some privacy.

"Neighborhoods are kind of something of the past, and here we create our
own neighborhood," Schneider said.

Several residents wore ear-to-ear smiles and chatted eagerly Wednesday
when asked about what it's like living at New Brighton Cohousing.
Schneider said he couldn't think of any drawbacks to the situation.

The community brings a "sense of instant neighborhood, friends, family,"
resident Roanne Wilson said. "I love the fact that there is a community.
It's not like you're in an apartment. There's a sense of connectedness,
and it's safe here."

Residents share ownership of their intimate neighborhood through a
tenancy-in-common agreement, with each also owning a share of the
central, three-bedroom house. They have committees for various issues,
including a conflict-resolution committee that deals with any
interpersonal issues that arise.

New Brighton Cohousing is one of hundreds of cohousing communities
around the world, according to the Cohousing Association of the United
States. It became the second cohousing community in Santa Cruz County
when it opened last August; the other, Coyote Crossing in Santa Cruz,
opened almost a decade ago.

The basic concept, which originated in Denmark in the late 1960s, is to
promote an old-fashioned sense of neighborhood in this time of growing
isolation by designing residences around a central courtyard, with a
common house as the center of the community. Most cohousing communities,
including New Brighton, make decisions by consensus, meaning that
everyone must agree before a decision is made.

Cohousing communities range in size from seven to 67 residences.. New
Brighton is on the small side, as most cohousing communities have 20 to
40 residences, according to the Cohousing Association.

There is a diversity of ages at New Brighton, ranging from young
children to retirees. Residents have jobs ranging from teacher to doctor
to psychotherapist to social worker to furniture salesman.

Residents say there are tangible benefits to being a tight-knit
community. They take care of each other's children, they play games with
each other and they hold community events. Those with certain skills,
such as Schneider, who is good with computers, offer assistance to those
in need.

Wilson saw how far her ties to her neighbors went when she suffered a
broken right ankle at the beach in February. A neighbor picked her up at
the beach, and while Wilson was unable to drive, different neighbors
pitched in to drive her 12-year-old daughter 4.6 miles to school each

It's a lot different than having a home in a regular community because
we're more connected," Stires said.

"I call this a family," Randa Johnson said.

Residents said perhaps the biggest problem with cohousing is finding
it.. Developers rarely build properties with cohousing in mind, and few
existing properties can be converted successfully into cohousing. That
often leaves those interested in pursuing cohousing either having to go
through the extensive and expensive process of developing a property
themselves, or trying to find that rare property that can be converted.

Some New Brighton Cohousing residents spent several years looking
together for a suitable property to convert, until they stumbled upon
their current site, which had been used for rentals.

"The hardest thing is finding the right spot," Schneider said. "I think
we were really lucky."

New Brighton Cohousing does have one unit available, and residents
present the community as an affordable option. The unit is priced at
$335,000. For information on the property, call Randa Johnson at
475-1013, or visit one of New Brighton's orientation meetings, held each
Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the community's main house, 6020 Soquel Drive.

For information on cohousing, visit

(Published in 7/24/08 edition)

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