The concept of cohousing comes to Truckee |

The concept of cohousing comes to Truckee

Charles Durrett is known for creating neighborhoods where residents walk by each other each day, regularly share meals, and whose children play together in the communities’ common areas.

It’s a concept he has written about, built and promoted across the country. Now, Durrett will introduce the building style and community principles called cohousing to Truckee at a Wednesday night meeting sponsored by the Sierra Business Council.

“I feel strongly that so many neighbors are so estranged and are neighbors in name only basically,” Durrett said.

Fresh off of completing a cohousing project in Nevada City, where he now lives, Durrett sees Truckee as a perfect location for a project that is pedestrian friendly, “extremely, extremely family friendly” and focuses on shared, common areas.

For others in the community, cohousing is a way to preserve Truckee’s endangered middle class and foster social interaction between neighbors.

“I think that Truckee faces a crisis of housing for our middle class,” said Steve Frisch, vice president of programs for the Truckee-based Sierra Business Council. “We have to have a strategy for maintaining the middle class in our community.”

Cohousing’s popularity has grown throughout the country since it was introduced by Durrett and others from Denmark in the late 1980s.

There are now more than 180 cohousing projects in the country. In the Nevada City project, which has been occupied since December of last year, a 140-person waiting list quickly stacked up for the units, said Durrett

Truckee council member Barbara Green has toured several of the cohousing projects in California, and noticed that the residents were happy and neighbors knew each other.

“It provides a unique mini-community,” said Green. “It creates a happy environment.”

Buildings often circle a common house ” where neighbors can congregate or share meals if they choose ” and a pool or walking paths. Infrastructure is shared, and cars are parked at the back of homes. Front porches are often prominent at the front of houses.

Most, or all, of the homes are owned by the occupants.

In Truckee, the housing concept could help retain Truckee full-time, working class, while housing them in a tight-knit community, solving two of the community’s growing social concerns.

“I think a lot of people are talking about Truckee being just natural for this type of development,” said Frisch.

Durrett hopes to do more than talk about cohousing in Truckee. Soon, he said, he hopes to build a cohousing development in town on a three-acre plot of land he recently bought near Hilltop.

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