N Street Cohousing
A cohousing community in Davis, California
The N street cohousing community began as standard subdivision units that were built in the mid-1950's consisting of 3 bedroom-2 bathroom houses separated by fences in Davis, California. In 1986, the first two houses were joined when Kevin Wolf bought what is now the common house and his wife Linda Cloud purchased the house next door. In 1999 the community was recognized as a planned development by the city council. As a planned development, setback easements were slightly more relaxed, and construction of larger second unit apartments were allowed. In 2005, after many years of planning, the original common house building was torn down and a new common house was built. The current common house consists of a four bedroom-two bathroom apartment upstairs and the downstairs includes the community's dining room (fitting 50 people), a large kitchen, a TV/meeting room, a bathroom and a shared laundry room. In addition, a two room-1 bathroom wheelchair accessible suite was added to the front of the common house with a nice big porch. A new patio and eating area were constructed in the back.
Since 1986, the community has grown to 19 houses by a process of adding one house at a time as they become available, taking down the fences between them and integrating the backyard landscaping. We have also added two houses from across the street. Currently, approximately 50 adults and 5-10 kids (depending on the year) reside here. The ownership structure of the houses is very diverse - some of the units are owned by community residents, some by absentee landlords, and others as partnerships of former/current tenants in the community.
Because of the way it grew, our community is termed "retrofit cohousing" and is a leading example how to create community in existing neighborhoods. N Street Cohousing is unusual because it has arisen by gradual evolution in the midst of existing suburban development.
Even though it arose in a much different manner than other communities, N Street Cohousing has all the attributes of a classic cohousing community. We live together as an intentional community, sharing much of the joys and pains of our lives with each other. We support each other in difficulty and celebrate in success. We sometimes vacation together. We have even been known to fall in love and marry each other. However, we live in our own homes and have our own yards (though without any fences). Each of us can be private when we want to be and each household sets its own culture for visiting, borrowing, and participating.