Building Sustainable Community

Fair Oaks, CA  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd
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The mission of Fair Oaks EcoHousing is to create a community-focused, environmentally friendly neighborhood right here in Fair Oaks. Construction on the community began in December 2017 and should be completed in spring of 2019. Photo by Shaunna Boyd

Building Sustainable Community

Fair Oaks EcoHousing Is Under Construction

Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Construction is underway on the Fair Oaks EcoHousing project, located at 4025 New York Avenue. The mission of the project is to create a community-focused, environmentally friendly neighborhood right here in Fair Oaks. The community will integrate private homes into a cohesive village atmosphere with shared amenities and green spaces. Construction on the community began in December 2017.

Marty Maskall, founding member of Fair Oaks EcoHousing, said the community focus is “smart growth and green design.” The project is transforming 3.7 acres of land (which originally had just two homes on it) into a sustainable neighborhood of 30 homes. In December 2013, Maskall had a contract, contingent on project approval, to purchase the property. The purchase closed in June 2015. And next year, in May or June of 2019, families will be moving into the community. Of the 30 homes, seven are still available for purchase.

Maskall leads monthly introductory meetings and site tours for anyone interested in becoming a member of the EcoHousing community. The meeting includes a short video featuring the Nevada City Cohousing community, which is the inspiration for Fair Oaks EcoHousing. Both communities share the same architect and have a very similar design, with rows of private homes facing each other, large porches on the front and back of each home, a shared pool, a club house, and a side area for parking.

Community members will own their own homes and be part of a homeowners association to fund the operating costs and maintain the shared spaces. Members will be able to participate in shared gardening, and prepare meals in the club house made from ingredients grown in the community gardens. Maskall said that prices for new homes in the Fair Oaks EcoHousing community are comparable to other new homes on the market that utilize green design and construction, ranging from approximately $360,000 up to $680,000. 

At a recent introductory meeting and site tour on October 13, attendees all shared similar motivations for considering membership: a sense of true community.

Cisca van Beek is originally from Holland, and she said cohousing communities are very common there and in many other places across Europe: “There are countless benefits; the communities are great places to raise kids.”

Scott and Joyce Hedges explained that people are so busy these days that it’s difficult to create a sense of community. They are looking for a sense of belonging and a connection with others.

Erin Huff currently lives in Oak Park with her husband John and their two-year-old daughter. Huff has been interested in cohousing and pocket neighborhood ideas for quite a while. She is considering Fair Oaks EcoHousing because of the “intentional cohesive community building.”

Current members also attended the meeting to share their reasons for joining the community and to get a look at the progress on their homes.

Lorri Reynard, who is originally from New York, chose to join because “the community aspect really resonated with me; I want to know my neighbors.”

Denise Knight lived in Fair Oaks in the past and loves the area. In addition to the social aspect, she said she became a member in order “to have all the amenities but share the work.”

Roslyn Eliaser said, “I love the idea of having the privacy of my own home but within a community…You can accomplish so much more together.”

Both the members and prospective members share a strong desire to become part of a collaborative community where neighbors know each other and work together. For more information, visit FairOaksEcoHousing.org.