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Group wins approval of co-housing project

Original post made on Oct 3, 2011

a 19-unit "co-housing" project at 445 Calderon Avenue, the culmination of a two-year labor of love by a group of Baby Boomers who want to live together in a communal environment.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 3, 2011, 10:18 AM

Comments (21)

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

Something tells me the taxpayers are going to be on the hook for some part of this communal green living gimmick. I can already taste it just from reading things like, "City Council members supported the possibility of removing the BMR fee as an incentive for historic preservation, but put off their decision on that until it can be explored along with other options for financial relief." That's how the dance always begins.

Posted by Honor Spitz, a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm

This seems like a wonderful project, and one that is respectful of the past yet at the same time planning for the future (...future needs of the aging population and the community as a whole.)

Posted by Liz , a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I live on Calderon Ave what is this going to do to our traffic which is already crazy. City does not seem to care about the traffic issue. Mountain View used to be a nice quite town not anymore...

Posted by AC, a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm

AC is a registered user.

Wow. A housing project that actually sounds very nice; provided the concerns of folks like Liz (eg. traffic patterns and noise) are addressed.

It sounds a lot nicer than most of the other housing/building projects I've read about.

Posted by big city blues, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

It sounded very nice until I heard the part about two three-story high rise appartments in a residential neighborhood. Yes, Mountain View used to be a quiet little neighborhood. It is not clear to me what will happen to the 49 heritage trees orchard.

Posted by Greg David, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

The ignorance amazes me. People are worried about the traffic from 19 older couples, the preservation of 49 old dead fruit trees and a ramshackle shack of a house that just happens to be very old. Why weren't you making more noise when the council approved the currently under construction debacle on Evelyn? You're worried about traffic? Wait until that is done.

The co-housing project at 455 Evelyn is one the most thoughtful and logical designs for this difficult plot of land. I'm glad it was approved but I don't think the project should have been saddled with the requirement to restore the shack and shouldn't have to pay into the BMR nonsense. When did we get to the point that people who work hard their whole life have to pay for the housing of people who don't?

I applaud the Burwens on leading this project to fruition, I only wish I could have helped them not get fleeced by the city "for the greater good".

Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm

What greater good? Why should the city cut 19 families any breaks?

Posted by JPence, a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 3, 2011 at 7:25 pm

The kinds of people who are attracted to an environmentally-sensitive, collaborative community are exactly the kinds of people we want to have living in Mountain View. After going through years of hearings and environmental impact reports, they've already proven that they are good citizens who are willing to go the extra mile to take into account community needs and work with constraints. Bravo to them and we look forward to having you/keeping you in Mountain View!

Posted by Liz, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Hi Greg I did make noise about that crazy mess that they are building on Evelyn. The city has lost touch with the small town feel. They just keep building more and more housing. Im not so worried about the development on Calderon it's the other stuff. Right now some days it takes me forever to pull out of my drive way and sometimes people get real nasty when we try to turn in. I have lived on this street since the early 70 and it just keeps getting more and more crazy

Posted by Ned, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2011 at 6:43 am

"The kinds of people who are attracted to an environmentally-sensitive, collaborative community are exactly the kinds of people we want to have living in Mountain View."

Not unless they expect the city to cut them breaks on fees that other taxpayers will be on the line for.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Posted by Josie, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2011 at 7:53 am

Are you kidding me? Have you seen traffic on Calderon already? And this is in addition to the new homes they built two next door? Just goes to show you what money can do. Yea "Community" only if you have money.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

I agree with Josie. In addition to her sentiments, the area they are planning this massive community building, there is a curve in the street. Right down the street there are children who use the cross walk to attend Landels Elementary School. I wonder if the planners of Mtn. View considered the risks that these children will have to endure due to the frustrations of drivers who find Calderon a very difficult street to pass through? Wow no foresight at all.

Posted by Laurel, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I have visited the site where this small housing project is to be built, and met some of the people who will live there. They are a wonderful group of people who are looking to be active in their new community. I ran into several of them at a film series downtown that covered, among other things, the promotion of bicycle and pedestrian safety. They will certainly be interested in traffic safety on Calderon, as one reason they love downtown Mountain View is its walkability. They are hoping to use cars as little as possible.

I look forward to their input on these issues, which affect all of us (I walked my kids to Landels Elementary for 12 years, so I know the difficulties of crossing Calderon all too well). Welcome to the neighborhood! This beautifully designed project will be a great addition to Old Mountain View, with much less additional traffic than other nearby developments.

Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Great. I live next door and I just can't wait to have to leave my windows closed tight for a year while they bulldoze, excavate, and rebuild the lot next door, stirring up dirt and dust and making obscene amounts of noise. I am going to really miss the lovely trees and nice quiet lot next door. I am also really horrified that there will now be three stories of neighbors that can stare down into my bathroom window :(

Posted by Greg david, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2011 at 3:52 am

Construction noise and dust is an unfortunate reality almost anywhere you live. There was a couple years not long ago where there seemed to be endless construction outside my bedroom window. New water mains, new sewer mains, new gas lines, new roofs on houses nearby, a couple remodels. What do you do? Deal with it.

Then again, you could always move. If you live next door, that means you are a renter, free to escape the nuisance of others spending their lifelong earnings to live a lifestyle of their choice in OMV.

Posted by OMV Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2011 at 7:16 am

I think several of the posters here raise a good point about the waiver of BMR fees that was considered along with this development - mainly in terms of fair treatment between different project applicants, and the precedent this would set.

But I am ashamed to hear the incredibly NIMBY - and frankly, ignorant-sounding - posts of some of my neighbors in this message board. Complaints about traffic from a 19-unit development of mostly seniors?!? Did you know that this works out to perhaps 10 extra cars per hour, or one extra car every 6 minutes, on the nearby streets? If you lived on Calederon right next to the development, you could take a quick shower or heat up a TV dinner between when you saw one added car and when you'd see the next.

And characterizing this development as a "three-story high rise"?!? What is your point of reference for high-rises? - North Dakota? These buildings would be no taller than the single-family homes at the corner of Dana & Calderdon, and I don't hear people complaining about those. Personally, I find those to be an abomination design-wise - while this development sounds and looks great (from the billboard at the front of the site).

I look forward to this being constructed, to the restoration of the Bakotich house and its relocation closer to the street so we can see it, and to welcoming our new neighbors!

Posted by DCS, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

I know one person who bought into this construction, and he will be an excellent, caring, thoughtful neighbor. From our conversations, I bet that he will not be the only one there like him.

On another note, I'm a little disgusted everytime I hear the term, "nimby." Labeling people is a way to marginalize them from society, everyone has a right to voice their concerns.

In the past, most construction pays in-lieu fees instead of building BMR housing, and considering mandatory BMR housing might be a thing of the past, I really don't care if they pay or not pay this fee.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 7, 2011 at 9:35 am

Wasn't BMR ruled to violate California Civil Code in Palmer v. the city of Los Angeles?

Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 7, 2011 at 9:43 am

@Greg David

"Why weren't you making more noise when the council approved the currently under construction debacle on Evelyn?"

Many people made noise. They were ignored by city council.

And even though they won't admit it, council learned their lesson - and summarily rejected the proposal for office space instead of residential housing next to 455 Evelyn by Classic Communities.

Posted by Andrea Gemmet, Mountain View Voice Editor
on Oct 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

The following comments have been moved from a duplicate thread which has now been closed:

I'm a member of the Mountain View Cohousing Community. Speaking not only for myself, but for all of us in the group, we have been very pleased by the helpful way the City staff members have worked with us and our architect, Chuck Durrett, to refine the design of our project and get approval. They helped us develop a solution to what seemed at times to be the insoluable problem of dealing with the historic house. Being able to have a caregiver suite there, while having the old farmhouse visible to the whole community, will be a win-win. For readers who are curious about the Mountain View Cohousing Community, or about cohousing in general, you can visit our website at Our next introductory social will be on October 9 (see Calendar page), if you'd like to meet us and think about whether you might want to join our community.
by Kate Forrest Sep 30, 2011 at 9:02 am

It's good to see so much thought and foresight going into a project. Getting the kinks out of the way early on will ensure a smooth project and eventually, a really stellar neighborhood. For all those folks who are young at heart and body, cohousing is a very viable option (and great for kids). Chuck Durrett and Katie McCamant also wrote a new edition of Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities that just came out this year. They're the foremost designers of cohousing in the United States.
by Jillian Brooks Oct 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Posted by Rebecca, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

Just for those who don't know... Cohousing is a Danish housing model that was "imported" some 20 years ago into the US. There are currently 120 cohousing communities in existence, and another 100+ in formation, like this one. This model of building community has been at work in Denmark since the early 60's, and has been very sucessful, both there and in the US, as well as other countries around the world.

Cohousing neighborhoods have a few things in common - the households have lower energy costs and lower miles driven per household than typical neighborhoods. People who share common areas tend to carpool more. Cohousing homes have higher resale values, fewer resales, and lower foreclosures than typical neighborhoods as well.

If you would like to read more, check out this study, one or many, done by a retired Harvard sociology professor: Web Link

The national cohousing association holds an annual conference, and it will be in Oakland in June, 2012. I encourage anyone who wants to know more about cohousing to come to Oakland June 13-18!

You can also contact me And check out the association website to learn more about cohousing:

Rebecca Lane
Executive Director
Cohousing Association of the US

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