The Sacramento City Council is likely to approve the downtown railyards development plan this Thursday, November 10. Most of the buzz about the project has been around the proposed stadium for the Sacramento Republic soccer team.
The media has paid less attention to the amount and type of housing that will (or won’t) be built there, even though this is probably the most important part of the whole enterprise.
In Cosmo Garvin’s latest podcast, he interviewed Earl Withycombe and Alexandra Reagan of the Environmental Council of Sacramento, who say that “the current plan for the Railyards doesn’t include enough affordable housing, or enough of any kind of housing. They say the project isn’t dense enough, isn’t ambitious enough, about building a transit friendly, environmentally sound, inclusive urban core.”
Showered by developer cash camouflaged through a political action committee, the Folsom City Council has quietly led an aggressive annexation campaign that could impact traffic, air quality and wildlife in northeast Sacramento County for decades to come.
The Environmental Council of Sacramento has raised concerns about the plan, including the impacts on smog and traffic, the effects on hawks and migratory birds and—most prominently—its seeming reliance on a nonexistent stable source of water: The city council voted in 2013 to supply thousands of future residents of the development with surplus water from conservation efforts within Folsom’s perilous local supply.
“They overallocated their water,” said Matt Baker, land use and conservation policy director at ECOS. “They’ve really not provided any kind of plan for an event that could drastically reduce their supply in an extremely dry year.”
Sacramento, CA – The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) voted unanimously on July 18, 2016 to endorse Fair Oaks EcoHousing. According to Brandon Rose, ECOS Board President, “One of the key objectives of ECOS is to promote and reinforce Smart Growth principles. We are pleased to endorse Fair Oaks EcoHousing as an example of a sustainable infill project that will enhance the Fair Oaks Community.”
Fair Oaks EcoHousing, soon to be built on New York Avenue near Fair Oaks Boulevard, will be a cohousing community. Cohousing neighborhoods are composed of privately-owned homes clustered around shared open space and common facilities. A central clubhouse is the heart of the neighborhood for a variety of activities and typically includes a dining room, kitchen, lounge, workshop space, kids’ playroom and guest rooms. Cars are kept to the edge of the site, thus making the neighborhood pedestrian-friendly and safe for children. Future residents are involved in the design and development so that it reflects their needs and priorities, creating a truly custom neighborhood. Marty Maskall, Project Manager & Future Resident, says: “I’m looking forward to living in a friendly and sustainable neighborhood close to Fair Oaks Village. We plan to break ground in early 2017, with move-in scheduled for Spring 2018.”
Architects and authors Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett introduced cohousing to North America in the 1980’s after studying the movement in Denmark. They are the authors of “Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities.” There are now more than 160 cohousing communities in the United States, including 32 in California. McCamant and Durrett, a husband and wife team, have worked together on over fifty cohousing projects. They live in Nevada City Cohousing. McCamant says: “Cohousing neighborhoods across America are proving that we can live a more sustainable lifestyle that is healthier and more fun for people of all ages, as well as good for the environment.”
Cohousing neighborhoods in the Sacramento Region include Southside Park Cohousing in Sacramento, Nevada City Cohousing, Wolf Creek Lodge in Grass Valley, and three communities in Davis. A new community called Renaissance Village Homes is being formed in West Sacramento, close to Raley field. According to Dr. Alex Kelter, Co-Chair of the ECOS Land Use Committee, “I am excited to see cohousing coming to West Sacramento, and I have joined forces with the group to do my part to help create this special neighborhood.”
Environmental sustainability is a core value in cohousing neighborhoods, which combine Smart Growth, Green Design, and Quality of Life. Community is the secret ingredient of sustainability because people help each other learn to be good stewards of the land. On-site activities enable residents to socialize close to home and reduce their need to drive as much for day-to-day activities. The Fair Oaks property offers close proximity to the American River Parkway, Fair Oaks Village, Bannister Park, the Sacramento Waldorf School, and Rudolf Steiner College.
Fair Oaks EcoHousing is welcoming prospective residents at free site tours, offered twice a month. For more information , visit www.FairOaksEcoHousing.org, www.cohousing-solutions.com, www.cohousingco.com, www.cohousing.org, and www.RenaissanceVillageHomes.org.
Future Residents of Fair Oaks EcoHousing celebrating approval by Sacramento County in April 2015