Western Drive CoHousing         812-834 Western Drive, Santa Cruz, CA

In 1995, GreenFarm LP was selected by the founding members of the Western Drive CoHousing community from several local developers to guide a group that ultimately consisted of 16 families dedicated to forming a cohousing project or “intentional community” in Santa Cruz. The project site was five acres, of which three acres were developable. One of the key features of the project finances was that the developers agreed to provide the homes to the buyers for a fixed price before all project costs were finalized, a considerable challenge for the developers.

The site contained several unique environmental features, such as a monarch butterfly habitat and an urban wild-fire interface. There are a number of parallels to the Inclusion Area D project, including the site design with parking on the outer edges to provide uninterrupted open space in the interior. This type of design can be more challenging to construct then traditional development. After extensive discussions with city staff and council members, the project was well received by the city council.

This “intentional community” consists of 10 single-family and six semi-detached cohousing units, a Common House and shared open space. Each unit is located on a small lot with a wraparound porch or “outdoor room” that overlooks the network of footpaths and open space linking the community. Parking is held to the edge of the site to maximize shared open area and encourage pedestrian circulation. The Common House, with its broad front porch facing the primary open space, provides kitchen and dining facilities for shared meals, a sitting room, guest room, laundry and a basement workshop.

Development of the project was initiated and guided by the residents, who were inspired by their common vision of a more cooperative, supportive living situation. The residents were intimately involved in the project design, from the site planning stage through selection of colors and finishes. The houses include expandable attics and other options that allow each household to meet their needs within the standardized design and overall budget. The mix of single-family homes and semi-detached units also made it possible for households with a broad range of incomes to participate in the making of the new community.

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