Monthly Site Visit from 3:00-4:00
Last Friday Art Walk at Will Dixon's Office, 300 Blair Blvd, 5:00-7:00
Monthly Site Visit from 3:00-4:00
The Oakleigh Meadow neighborhood is forming now, so this is a great time to get involved. You can have a voice in the neighborhood design, working with Charles Durrett, nationally recognized cohousing architect. We know that the decision to join a cohousing community is a major life decision, so we have a mentoring process to help you decide whether Oakleigh Meadow is a good fit for you and your family
Here are some common questions about cohousing in general and Oakleigh Meadow in particular.
Is cohousing like living in a commune? Cohousing residents own their individual private units. These are arranged to allow neighbors to easily share activities and facilities, such as the large common house. There are no shared financial arrangements, apart from HOA fees to cover expenses of shared facilities and grounds. There are no shared religious or spiritual beliefs.
How is cohousing different from a condominium development? Legally, cohousing falls within the condominium model, but there are two big differences. Cohousing units are designed by the future residents, and residents decide how they will govern themselves and make decisions.
How do cohousing communities govern themselves? In most communities, decisions are made by consensus whenever feasible. Each group decides whether some exceptions to full consensus are desirable to allow the community to move forward.
Why are you building so many units on only 2.17 acres? We started out wanting a variety of different sizes. Some wanted 6-7, some wanted 16-20 and some wanted 25-30. Discussing and researching community size over these months, we figured out that it’s simply less expensive to build more homes rather than fewer. The costs for many ingredients are fixed: land cost, engineers, site preparation, design, government approvals and more. In addition, we knew we wanted a large common house as the center of the community. The size, and therefore the cost, of the common house would be about the same whether we built 12 homes or 30. Finally, we realized that a community of 20 or more families would likely be more successful than a smaller community. We encountered small communities that felt they had too few members to carry on all the activities they wanted to have, and we encountered many communities with 25-30 households who felt they had the ideal size. They did not want more members because they could not know that many people well.
What will happen to the existing open space? When the property went up for sale, David Adee and Joan Connolly purchased it in order to preserve the unique features of the land and its place in the area’s ecology. They knew that, if a commercial developer bought the land, as many units as legally possible would be built with no regard to anything beyond the bottom line. At the same time, they were not in a financial position to purchase it and maintain it in its present undeveloped state. After more than a year of considering alternatives, they decided that cohousing, with its emphasis on sustainability and community connection, would be the best repurposing of the land. Having future residents as developers of the site assures that, despite the loss of open space in the upper meadow, the buildings that replace it will be an asset to the neighborhood rather than a blight.
What about local access to the greenway and bike path? These will be preserved in a way that also protects the privacy and safety of the cohousing residents.
What will the Oakleigh Meadow units look like, and how much will they cost? The actual design of the units is determined by the residents, and the unit design workshop has not yet taken place. Cohousing units are smaller than conventional ones because of the ample shared spaces in the Common House. They will be attached units available in 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom sizes. Units will likely cost between $200,000 and $350,000 depending on size of the unit and desirability of location.
Why do the houses cost so much? Usually this question is paired with a comparison to much cheaper apartments and houses of comparable size. And believe us we all wondered about this, too. There are several parts to the answer. First, we are building new homes. New construction involves current prices for materials and labor; while housing prices have gone down considerably in the last 5-6 years, the prices of materials and labor have held up or increased. In addition, we will be building greener homes than most homes on the market. Green building is not cheap, but we want to be as green as we can afford. Finally, we will be building a substantial common house, probably 3000 to 3500 square feet. It will be furnished extensively to support a wide variety of activities. The common house will be the equivalent of building about 3 extra homes, and the common house cost will be spread across the cost of all the units. All things considered, we realized the cost of our new housing is not really out of line.
What will be the legal structure of the property? What exactly will I be buying? The project will be structured like a condominium association, so you would own your own unit, plus a share of the Common House and common areas. You would be responsible for your own property taxes, for example, and for paying a monthly HOA fee to cover property taxes, maintenance, etc. for the Common House and common areas.
What is the length of time that current members believe it will take to sell all the dwellings? We're hoping to pre-sell all the units and be ready to apply for the construction loan in late 2013 or early 2014.
What happens if you don't get 28 households? Currently, banks are insisting that developments like this be 100% pre-sold before a construction loan is given.
Why don’t you build the project bit by bit, several houses at a time, gathering members and money as you go? We want the units to be as affordable as possible. Cost savings come with building all of the units at once.
Why don't you build the housing units first and wait until you have more money to build the common house? We thought about this. The common house involves a substantial commitment, but we feel the common house will be the center of the community. Without the common house, we may not create a strong community. Also, if we wait to build the common house until after the housing, we may not be able to summon the collective will and resources to get it done. We have seen several examples of cohousing communities delaying the start of the common house, and in most cases the common house has yet to be built.
What if I want to sell my unit? It’s your home and you may sell it any time you like. The new owner becomes part of the HOA and must abide by the HOA’s rules and regulations.
Will I be able to sell my house to anyone I want to? The short answer is yes. Once the project is built, each household will purchase their chosen unit and will own the house and a share in the common facilities, such as the common house and the land. The legal structure will be a condo association. Each unit will be privately owned and the owner can sell to whomever s/he pleases, subject to the usual real estate laws. The longer answer is a bit different. Most cohousing communities want to help their members sell easily AND want to encourage sales to families who will be good members of the community. The most common method used is to develop and maintain a waiting list of potential buyers. We expect to develop a waiting list as soon as we have sold all houses. Then if a member needs to sell, there will be a group of eager buyers to work with. The limit is that we must abide by all fair housing regulations just like other condo associations.
Will there be rental units? No units will be set aside as rentals. Unit owners will be able to rent their units with the agreement of the community. No details have been discussed at this point.
Will there be common meals? The group will make these decisions, but cohousing communities typically have one or more group meals per week, with responsibility for preparing the meals and cleaning up afterwards rotated among the residents who are willing and able to provide such services.
Will there be space for a common vegetable garden? Almost certainly. Such gardens are very popular among cohousing and retirement communities.
What contributions are residents required to make in terms of cooking, gardening, etc.? Again, the group will make such decisions, but cohousing communities typically do not require members to perform any particular services. Often they provide that members must contribute a certain number of hours of community service each year, which may be met in a number of ways, depending on the member’s ability and interests.
Can I have custom cabinets in my unit? Yes! Various upgrades will be available at extra charge.
What about storage? Some members plan to purchase a garage or carport for storage. Others will use an extra bedroom for this purpose. As the common house will have one or more guest rooms, this becomes more possible. Most members will decide to downsize their possessions in response to the reduced living space as well as the desire to live simply. We plan on having a bike shed for housing bicycles and kayaks, canoes, etc. The community will likely decide on a tool shop in which equipment can be stored and shared.
Will all the units be accessible? We will be making this and many other decisions at the upcoming common house and individual unit design workshops.
Will I have enough privacy with so much common space? Cohousing balances public and private space. Household units, including front and back outdoor areas, are private domains.
What about noise? The architect we’re working with has designed dozens of cohousing neighborhoods and uses materials that minimize noise between units. Floor-ceiling noise is a bit harder to deal with, but every effort will be made to minimize noise in this direction as well, including carpeting on second-story units.
Would residents be able to share vehicles and other resources? Sharing resource and skills is a hallmark of cohousing. That said, each community develops its own policies on such matters as car sharing.
How do I become an Associate Member? What does that mean? Associate members can attend meetings, work on teams, have access to all files in yahoo groups, and participate in all discussions. It is the first step towards buying a unit. Associates pay monthly dues of $100 until $600 has been contributed. This money goes towards development expenses and is not reimbursable. Associate membership lasts from two to six months. At the end of six months, associates either depart or become full members.
How do I become a Full Member? What does that mean? Full members are future OMC neighbors. Each full member household has a “vote” in decisions (OMC decisions are made by consensus). All full member contributions, including the $500 sign-up fee, is applied to the unit purchase price. Full members are eligible for discounts when there is a cash call (during the discount period).
What are discounts? Discounts are monies subtracted from the unit price at time of purchase.
What are funds collected from associate and full members used for? The $600 in dues, paid by ALL members when they join (you can pay $100 a month or $600 in one go) goes towards incidental expenses: easel, paper, space rental, food for recruiting events like our Greek dinner several weeks ago. All other funds, including the $500 sign-up fee, go toward the cost of your unit. Workshop fees paid by associate members are used towards unit cost if associates become full members.
Do payments by associate members go toward formation costs? If an associate member decides to become a full member, all payments except the dues go toward unit cost.
Does everyone go through a stage of being an associate member? When the LLC was formed in April, seven households became full members, and one chose to become an associate. Since then, we have accrued three more households, and we have several associate member households. This does not include David and Joan, who cannot join the LLC until the land is purchased--at the time of the construction loan.
Do you vet prospective new members? Since associate members work and play alongside full members for two to six months, there is ample time to assess whether OMC is a good match. When associate members move towards full membership, the membership team solicits input from members. An exploration meeting is held in which the prospective member has an opportunity to explore cohousing issues in depth with a group of full members. The membership team makes a recommendation to the full member group, who then decides whether to accept the member into the community.
What if someone comes in who doesn't fit and tries to control everything or won't allow the community to move because they block everything? We have adopted a consensus model that requires the member who blocks consensus to meet with the team sponsoring the proposal to work out an alternate solution which satisfies his/her concerns. If agreement cannot be reached, or if the member fails to meet with the team within a specified amount of time, then consensus-minus-one is our fallback.
Is there an agreement that every member or household contributes time in an endeavor that moves the project forward? All members, full and associate, are expected to attend meetings and participate on a team or teams to move the project forward.
What if I travel or have more limited time/physical ability to do community work? How much work am I expected to do? How much time do I need to spend in creating meals in the Common House? Do I have to create meals that I don't partake of? The group has not yet talked about how we will handle the commitment to contribute time to the maintenance of community life, but a hallmark of cohousing is shared governance and maintenance of the neighborhood. It may be that folks who travel can take on work that can be done from a distance, such as website maintenance. Folks with physical limitations will have lots of options for contributing in ways within their capacities.
Is there a business plan and budget for the entire project? Katie McCamant has been hired as our project consultant. She has supplied us with an overall budget (the finance/legal team is communicating with her as we go so that it can be continually fine-tuned). Katie is also responsible for helping us identify our critical path (the coordinating team is responsible for this). Katie and her firm, The Cohousing Company, have brought dozens of cohousing projects to completion, so we believe we are in good hands. We also have a local project manager, architect Will Dixon, who is also a full member.
Do policies exist regarding how actions are taken, such as hiring consultants? The full members decide who we will hire as we move forward, but associate members take full part in all discussions.
What about the flood plain? About 1/3 of the property is flood plain. Any structures built on this portion of the property will be built on fill. This is doable.
Is it considered a wetland? The Oakleigh Meadow site has not been designated a wetland.
What is the view toward the river in the winter? Less obscured than in the summer when the deciduous trees are in leaf.
What about safety on the bike path? The bike path is owned by the city of Eugene, which is responsible for enforcing safety on the bike path.
How will Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing affect traffic on McClure Lane and Oakleigh Lane?There will be no car access to the development from McClure Lane. The parking lot will be accessed at the end of Oakleigh Lane, so there will be increased traffic on that street. We are planning for guest parking in our parking lot to minimize guest parking on Oakleigh Lane. One of our core values is connection to the surrounding neighborhood, which indicates that we are committed to doing whatever we can to preserve and enhance positive relationships with our neighbors.
Will Oakleigh Lane be annexed to the city? Won’t that raise the neighbors’ taxes? Only the property owned by the cohousing community will be annexed to the city. Neighbors on Oakleigh Lane and McClure Lane will not need to be annexed because no new construction is happening there.
What are the area schools like? River Road/El Camino del Río Elementary is a state-recognized school for excellent programs in reading, math and full-day kindergarten. It is a K–5 school of about 360 students with some of the smallest average class sizes in Eugene. The school is a Spanish dual immersion program. Half of the students' day is taught in Spanish and the other half is in English.
Kelly Middle School is committed to fostering lifelong learners who are prepared academically and socially for the transition to high school following the completion of three years of study. Rigorous academic explorations tempered with socially responsible instructional practices will help students become contributors in our democratic society. Teachers and administrators strive to educate the whole student by extending instruction from the core subject areas into PE (required), music, technology and second-language learning environments.
North Eugene High School houses three small schools within: Academy of Arts, School of IDEAS and North International High School. The three small schools, each with strong core academic offerings, lead to Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and College Now programs. Each school is committed to supporting students to be prepared for the world beyond high school.
The Eugene school district also has a number of alternative and charter schools. The alternative schools develop programs that build on a particular theme or approach to education. Alternative schools in the district include language immersion programs in French, Spanish and Japanese; an arts and technology K–8 school; and other approaches to K–12 education. Alternative schools have no attendance boundaries — families from all neighborhoods may request to have their child attend the school, and openings are filled in the order determined by the school choice lottery. Families must provide their own transportation.
There are three charter schools in this district. Charter schools are public schools that receive public funds under a written agreement — a charter — that outlines student performance goals and educational services the public charter school will provide. Charter schools are independent legal entities governed by their own board of directors, and are excluded from many state statutes and rules (for example, only half of a charter school’s teachers must be licensed by the state). They must provide an equitable enrollment opportunity for any interested students. They have their own admissions procedures.
How can I find out more about Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing? Contact us via this website or plan to come to our monthly site visit, where interested folks can walk the land and talk with community members. Call 541-485-5972 for more information.