Frequently Asked Questions

FrogSong Common House at night What is the ideological "focus" of FrogSong? What are your values? Other than an interest in community, FrogSong does not have a strong dogmatic or philosophical focus. While we do have a vision statement, we still don't yet have a mission statement or an agreed-upon list of values.

That said, our decisions and practices appear to reflect the following values, which may not be universally shared:
Art - We host concerts. We organize events where music and dance are the primary focus. We beautify our landscape with outdoor sculpture.
Children - Our children play together in a nurturing environment. Parents often baby-sit or watch each other's children.
Environment and Sustainability - We practice and promote recycling and organic agriculture. We provide clotheslines and composting facilities. We buy hybrid vehicles and harvest solar energy.
Intimacy - While we value our privacy, we also greet one another by name and often share our personal struggles and milestones with the group.
Non-violence - Living in close proximity, conflicts are bound to arise. We are committed to resolving our conflicts through respectful dialog, not violence.
Simplicity - More is not always better. We have chosen a high-quality life with friends over an extravagant life with strangers. We do many (but not all) maintenance and cleanup chores ourselves rather than hiring them out.

Why is it called FrogSong? Though we live in the City of Cotati, we share the land with a contingent of frogs and other wildlife. On winter evenings, the neighborhood often sounds like this.

Can I visit FrogSong, see your community, and get a tour? Although much of our physical community is visible from the surrounding public sidewalks, alley, and path, it is all private property. We ask that you not come onto the grounds without a prior invitation. While we enjoy meeting people, many of us lead busy lives and cannot drop what we are doing to spend time with unexpected visitors. Like most people, we are concerned for our safety and the safety of our children, pets, and belongings. Strangers seen wandering unescorted may be approached and asked what their business is; please don't take offense!

Can I come for dinner and stay overnight? Guests may join us for common meals, but only by prior arrangement with their host, who must be a specific community member. We cannot accommodate drop-in visitors at meals. Similarly, guest rooms can be reserved only by community members, who must then assume responsibility for their guests.

When's your rental office open? We are self-managed, and the units are predominantly owner-occupied. FrogSong itself has no manager and no permanent office.

How do I contact FrogSong? E-mail and postal contact information may be found here.

How do I get there? Directions to FrogSong may be found here.

How much land do you have? We occupy 2.34 acres (0.95 ha) on the edge of a small downtown. Because all the units are attached, the property feels open and not at all crowded. Our photo gallery includes images of the land, both during and after construction.

Aerial View of FrogSong What's the setting? Cotati is a small, incorporated city of about 7,000 people, located in Sonoma County. It is about an hour north of San Francisco and about 35 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. The city is part industrial, part suburban, and part rural. It borders on farmland, Sonoma State University, and Rohnert Park (a planned city of 41,000).

Our land is located at the south edge of Cotati's downtown hub. Old Redwood Highway, a busy two-lane thoroughfare, borders us to the west. We own the ground-floor commercial frontage along the highway and lease it to local businesses. Park Meadows (a tract of new single-family homes) borders us to the south. Across Ross Street (the narrow access road to the east), lies a strip of preserved wetland linking us with Charles Street Village, a modern low-income housing project for seniors. Across the channelized creek forming our northern border lies The 8-Ball (a bar) and some old rental housing. The creek drains into the Laguna de Santa Rosa, which flows to the Pacific Ocean south of Jenner by way of Mark West Creek and the Russian River.

Our photo gallery includes aerial images of the neighborhood. The directions page includes a street map of central Cotati.

What are the residences like? We have six residential buildings, each containing four-to-eight residential units. The 30 residential units consist of:

• eight 2-bedroom/1-bath flats ("A" units, 834 square feet, 77 square meters),
• eight 2- and 3-bedroom lofts ("B" units, 1203-1579 square feet, 112-147 square meters) located above the commercial space, and
• fourteen 3- and 4-bedroom townhouses ("C" and "D" units, 1196-1390 square feet, 111-129 square meters).

Each residence has hydronic (radiant) heat and a private kitchen. Most have skylights. Twelve of them have washer-dryer hookups. None of them have air conditioning. All the buildings are of wood-frame construction and fully fire-sprinklered. Our photo gallery includes photos of the buildings.

What happens when residents leave FrogSong? Legally, the residences are condominiums, which can be marketed and rented/sold/financed like conventional homes. We trust that anyone selling/renting will seek a buyer/tenant who is committed to participating in our community.

Do you have any openings? The residences were pre-sold at the start of construction and rarely come onto the open market. The residences are predominantly owner-occupied. Sometimes owners rent out rooms or swap homes with residents of other cohousing communities.

Look here for the latest news on rental/purchase opportunities, or to join our "interested parties" e-mail list.

Are you entirely residential? Building E is mixed-use, with lofts above and leased commercial frontage below. As of May 2014, the commercial tenants are:

What are your common facilities?
• a 3500-square foot (325-square meter) detached common house,
• a 1200-square foot (110-square meter) detached workshop,
• attached sheds for storage and utilities,
• a lush landscape including paved paths, sculpture, fences, gates, and a small pond,
• a 1200-square foot (110-square meter) vegetable garden,
• an outdoor spa,
• a tot lot with outdoor play equipment,
• clotheslines, and
• on-site parking for 45 vehicles, including sixteen carports.

FrogSong Common House at night How do you use your common house? The common house is where we prepare and eat common meals. We host parties and concerts there. It also provides laundry facilities (three washers and three dryers) and meeting space. There is a cozy sitting room with a fireplace for small-group socializing. There is a playroom for children. Some rooms are used to house overnight guests. Photovoltaic panels on the roof supply the building with electricity. In 2007, we enlarged the usable space by finishing part of the the second story.

Our photo gallery includes photos of the common house, both inside and out.

Do you grow your own food? The community vegetable garden and edible landscape supply a small fraction (probably less than five percent) of our food.

Who lives at FrogSong? As of June 2014, we had 79 people living on-site: 60 adults and 19 children.

What do you people do for a living? Some of us work from our homes, while others commute to jobs as far away as San Francisco. A few of us have offices in the on-site commercial space. Some of us have retired. Some of us are busy raising small children. Resident occupations include: physical therapist, executive, schoolteacher, contractor, business owner, web designer, drafter, software engineer, hospice nurse, public relations, accent coach, plan checker, author, college professor, facilitator, scientist, environmental consultant, photographer, vice principal, and geologist.

Some members have their own websites.

Who's your leader? Different people lead at different times, depending on the activity at hand. While many members avoid leadership roles, no one individual or small group can be said to "run" FrogSong.

How are you organized? FrogSong holds monthly business meetings, where we make decisions by consensus. The job of facilitating business meetings rotates among the four-to-six members of the Facilitation Committee. Long-term residents are expected to join the meal program and participate in the FrogSong community through committees, monthly meetings, and work parties.

In addition, each owner belongs to our incorporated homeowner's association (HOA). The association collects monthly assessments to pay for common-area utilities and maintenance, insurance, etc. While the association has officers and is governed by a Board of Directors, every homeowner has a seat on the board, HOA meetings are open to non-owners, and decisions are made by consensus. These practices help keep the decision-making process transparent and egalitarian.

What does "consensus" mean? Consensus is a decision-making process that empowers all participants to comment on proposed decisions and block them if necessary. Contrast this with voting, in which a majority can impose its will upon an objecting minority, with or without discussion.

What are the work expectations? Long-term residents are expected to participate in our common meal program. All long-term residents are expected to participate in one of the two-hour work parties each quarter. Half the work parties are devoted to landscaping projects. Each adult is expected to serve on at least one committee. The community meets once a month to conduct business. We expect each resident adult to attend most of these meetings.

How do "common meals" work? As of June 2014, we share 12 to 14 family-style meals a month in our common house, mostly dinners. A complete vegetarian meal is always offered, and we sometimes provide meat as an option. We use mostly organic ingredients.

A team of three, headed by a lead cook, prepares and serves each meal and cleans up afterward. Each adult signs up to serve on one meal team per month. Diners sign up for meals two to nine days in advance. With the help of a web-based system, we pay our share of ingredients costs for each meal we sign up to eat.

Is FrogSong a religious community? While many of us consider ourselves "spiritual," observe religious holidays, or belong to one or more local congregations, FrogSong is not affiliated with any religious organization and does not mandate any particular belief-system.

Is FrogSong a co-op? The word "co-op" usually refers to property owned by a corporation for the benefit of its members. While the incorporated homeowners association (HOA) owns most of our common area, our living spaces are technically "condominiums" because we own them outright (or rent them from individual owners). This is a subtle distinction, but an important one for lenders, insurers, and tax assessors.

For example, a FrogSong homeowner pays dues to the HOA just like a resident in a co-op would pay subscriptions or rent to the co-op corporation. But whereas a co-op subscription includes property taxes and debt service, our dues do not. FrogSong homeowners pay property taxes directly to the County and make mortgage payments directly to their lenders. (Banks and governments seem to prefer individual accountability over collective responsibility.)

Is FrogSong a commune? The word "commune" generally refers to a community in which there is little or no personal property. We do not consider ourselves a commune because we own our homes separately and do not pool our income. This allows us to retain a lot more privacy than most commune-dwellers.

For example, a FrogSong homeowner can sell, rent, or mortgage his/her home without the group's permission. Few communes would tolerate this sort of behavior. Our dues are based on property ownership, not personal income, so we have little need to get concerned about how our fellow members make their living.

Is FrogSong an ecovillage? While FrogSong possesses some attributes of an ecovillage (human scale, supportive of healthy human development) we do not consider ourselves one. We have a large impact on the natural world due to our dependency on the grid for most of our electricity, piped in natural gas for heat, and municipal services for water, sewer, landfill, and recycling. Nor are we a full-featured settlement because we lack a manufacturing component. In addition, food production is underrepresented in our land use.

How did FrogSong come about? Four households came together in 1999 with the intention of building a cohousing community on the present site, which they found through a land broker. Two of the founders were Sonoma State faculty. Some of them had been involved in earlier attempts to create cohousing in Windsor and Santa Rosa.

The founders put up money to form a limited liability company (LLC) and got an option to buy the land, which at the time had a single-family rental on it. They attracted other prospective residents and partnered with a developer and an architectural firm.

More of the FrogSong story can be found on our history page.

Wait! I have a question not answered above. We welcome friendly inquiries. Contact us, and we'll try to put you in touch with someone who can answer your question. Please allow plenty of time for a response.