About Doyle Street Cohousing
Doyle Street Cohousing in Emeryville, California, is the oldest urban cohousing in the US. Our community has been featured in multiple books and news articles since its founding in 1992. Our community includes 12 separate units, each equipped with its own living space, kitchen, and bath. Our membership varies, but we generally have around 20 adults and 4-8 children, from toddlers to teens, plus assorted pets, living in our community.
We are a community that is united against hate. We stand together and in solidarity against racism, ageism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, and all other forms of hate that have resulted in violence and discrimination.
COVID-19 and Cohousing
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had to suspend many of the activities described below that make our community vibrant. Instead, we have connected over Zoom, held physically distanced but socially connected gatherings in our parking lot, and projected movies outside. Common house dinners held outdoors are happening about once per week.
We invest time to build a thriving, intergenerational, diverse community. Read our Mission and Values statements here.
We have community dinners in our common dining area and kitchen three nights a week. Dinners are on Sundays, Tuesdays, and alternating Thursdays and Fridays. Coming home from work to a healthy, home-cooked meal and gathering together is the heart of our community and one of the biggest joys of cohousing.
Each adult resident cooks one dinner and assists at one dinner per rotation (about six weeks). The cook plans the menu and buys the groceries. The assistant arrives ahead of time to help set the table, chop vegetables, or whatever the cook needs. Everyone who attends the dinner helps the cook and assistant to clear the tables afterward.
You can sign up for community dinners as often or as little as you like. At our shared meals, we celebrate birthdays and personal milestones. We discuss the events of the day and our individual and community challenges. The conversations over common meals are a vital part of our community life.
Celebrations are an essential part of the Doyle Street community.
We hold barbecues on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. We invite friends, neighbors, and former community members to join us. We often pull out the ping pong table, badminton net, or basketball hoop and play games in the parking lot after dinner.
Our cohousing Thanksgiving celebration is the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We decorate the common house, get dressed up, and celebrate together with a glorious potluck meal. On January 1, we have a potluck and pirate gift grab - a fun and silly cap to the holiday season.
Every year, we have at least one community dance party. Our dance parties often have themes and costumes. We set up a fire pit outside when we need to take a break. There is time for kids to join the party and also an alternate activity for the children.
Every year, we celebrate other life events together: kid’s birthday parties, graduation and retirement parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, and even the occasional wedding reception.
Some of the most memorable cohousing moments occur during those unpredictable, spontaneous bits of socializing. We might meet up to bike to the ice cream shop, be recruited for a kids’ relay race or treasure hunt, or simply gather around a picnic table for a glass of wine at twilight.
Kids and Cohousing
We love children! Our common house has a kids’ loft where the kids can retreat to play after eating dinner. We have outdoor spaces for kids as well.
Our community provides a safe space where children can play outside and are often invited into neighbors’ houses. Children who have grown up here have formed strong bonds with the other children and adults in our community. Two children who grew up here have even come back over time to live here as adults.
One of the principles of cohousing is shared resources. We often send out emails with the subject line “it must be on the property” when someone needs to borrow a tool, camping equipment, etc. We share knowledge, resources, and information about fun activities over our email group.
We also share physical amenities. The community has a gas grill for community and individual cookouts. We have two outdoor tables for casual dining or hosting your own outdoor dinner party. We have a heat lamp and portable firepits for evening gatherings in our patio space, which can flex from car parking to outdoor gatherings. We also have a communal workspace with community tools, where residents can work on artwork or construction projects.
In addition to the games and toys mentioned above, we have a foosball table in the kids’ play area that all are welcome to use. And we have a community hot tub.
Keeping Our Community Strong: Workdays, Jobs, and Community Meetings
We keep our HOA dues low by managing our property and our community ourselves.
Every resident over 18 is responsible for 12 workday hours per year. Workdays occur one weekend day every month, and residents can distribute the 12 hours as each person sees fit. On workdays, we paint, clean, trim vines, and do general repairs together while listening to music and enjoying each other’s company.
Every adult resident has one or more jobs in the community. Jobs average four hours per month per adult. We keep our community running by taking responsibility for different aspects of community life. Jobs include workday coach, buying common house supplies, sweeping the patio, gardening, arranging childcare for meetings, and much more. One of our jobs is the jobs coach, who works with each person to match them with jobs that suit their abilities and capacity.
Our monthly meetings are technically HOA meetings, but they are much more than that. Every owner is a voting member of the HOA. Renters are encouraged to attend. Every community member has a voice in shaping the agreements that guide us in community life. We work together at community meetings to find shared solutions to community issues.
Doyle Street Cohousing is located on a charming, mixed-use block in Emeryville. The excellent Doyle Street Cafe is right across the street. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch and has a delightful parklet for outdoor seating. The Emeryville Public Market, where you can choose from various terrific food vendors, is a short walk away.
Other neighbors on our block include trainers, architects, a cabinet-making shop, a window repair shop, an acting studio, and a pottery studio. Twice a year, the residents, business owners, and employees gather for a community potluck.
The neighborhood is very bikeable. We are a block from the start of the Doyle Street Greenway, which connects to 9th Street in Berkeley. We are also just a couple of blocks from a new biking and walking bridge that will connect across the tracks to Bay Street. The Bay Trail walking and biking path is a few blocks away.
There are many places to shop nearby. Besides the many choices at nearby malls, health food grocery Berkeley Bowl West is just a mile away (and located right on the bikeway).
We are half a block from small parks that offer a dog park, a half basketball court, and two playgrounds. A larger park with bigger play structures is just a few blocks down the greenway. There is a bocce court on the greenway and two community gardens in the neighborhood. The Emeryville Center for Community Life is a short walk or bike ride away. It offers a community pool and other amenities. There is also a small skateboard park a few blocks away.
We are just five blocks from the Amtrak station, where you can catch Capitol Corridor trains to Sacramento and San Jose. MacArthur is the closest BART station. It’s easily accessible by car or bike. You can take the free EmeryGoRound shuttle to MacArthur BART, Berkeley Bowl, and other destinations around town. Nearby AC Transit bus routes connect to West Oakland BART, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, among other destinations.
Plan a Visit
Doyle Street Cohousing participates in cohousing tours. If you’d like to be on our list for information about opportunities to visit, tours, and available units, please add your name to our contact list.