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Ashland cottage community to offer shared electric vehicle

The Garden Cottages community currently under construction at the corner of North Laurel Street and Mountain View Drive will have a shared electric vehicle for residents to use.

Mark Knox, founding partner of the developer, KDA Homes, said the shared electric vehicle pilot program is another sustainable perk in the eco-friendly community, saying it could save homeowners thousands a year in car payments, insurance, gas and maintenance.

“It cost people $10,000 to $12,000 a year just to own a car, and so we want to reduce that need to have that extra car,” Knox said. “I think that in communities such as Ashland, where they’re really pedestrian-friendly and everything’s in close distance, that you could get by with one standard gas-powered vehicle. You can walk, bike, or if you have to you can opt to use the electric shared car, but you don’t need to have a second car necessarily. We think it goes well with Ashland’s planning efforts.”

Knox said the program will begin with one car that is shared between the residents and charged there on the property. Residents will schedule to use the vehicle through an app on their smartphones, and KDA Homes staff will control the program and care for the vehicle for the first couple of years to make sure everything is working correctly.

Then, once everybody is comfortable with the program, the car-share program will be maintained by homeowners at the Garden Cottages.

“The car will be an asset owned by the community, like a common open space or common amenity,” Knox said. “They’ll have to pay for it monthly.”

He said each home will be charged a $50 maintenance fee to care for shared areas of the property, such as the pesticide-free pollinator garden, the parking lot and the car.

Because it is a shared commodity, the car will be replaced every seven years, Knox said.

“This project is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve been told that by many sources,” Knox said. “Not only will there be an electric car, but there’s so many other environmentally friendly components to his community — solar, laundry, landscape, lifelong housing, Earth Advantage, and the list goes on.”

EV charge ports are being built at the development, and each house has the option to have personal ports.

Ashland has six public EV chargers, and city staff is applying for grants for more, according to the city’s website. Ashland also offers incentives and rebates to businesses and individuals who purchase EV and charging ports.

Seven-hundred electric vehicles are registered within the city, making up 76% of the EV registrations in Jackson County, according to a press release.

Efforts by the city to encourage the use of EVs are a part of its Climate and Energy Action Plan to have zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In line with the plan, all the Garden Cottage units are solar powered, and the intention is that the community will produce more energy than it uses.

Knox said they’re hoping residents in the development will receive a check from the city at the end of the year for excess power produced.

Knox said the cottages start out at $349,000. They’re not affordable housing units, because so much is going into them, but he believes that this type of development is the way of the future.

“I think we are in a climate crisis, and I think that every aspect of our society is going to have to change, and that includes the building industry,” Knox said. “How we consume at home, how we use our transportation, I think we just have to figure out a way to survive in this pending crisis, and we believe that this is a type of program, a model program, in a community where we just know that it will work. We’re thinking along the lines of, ‘What else can we do?’”

Knox said the company learned a lot from the residents of one of its most recently completed projects in Ashland, Verde Village. He said sustainability is important for the people who live there, and a lot of Ashland residents reflect that same value.

KDA Homes partner Laz Ayala said the company hopes other developers around the state will follow their lead.

“This is not only the socially responsible thing to do, but the right business move that we hope will get other developers throughout Oregon to follow,” Ayala said. “This is a model project for us. There is much we can do in the real estate development industry to address the rising cost of living that wages are not keeping up with. We can accomplish this by building smaller, energy-efficient homes and taking advantage of today’s solar, automobile and smartphone technology.”

The Garden Cottages are estimated to be completed by January. KDA Homes is currently accepting applications. For more information, see the website at kda-homes.com and click on KDA Projects, then The Garden Cottages.

The Garden Cottages is the first cottage development in Ashland since a cottage housing ordinance was passed in 2017. The development features 12 one- and two-bedrooms cottages in varied styles, with a covered parking lot and shared spaces.

Knox said the team is discussing plans for a second cottage housing development with 17 units and two EVs in the North Mountain area.

“This is something we really have to do, and society is ready for, maybe not nationally, but locally, we’re ready for it,” Knox said. “These are not just custom houses, but we’re talking about on a subdivision scale, 10 to 12 houses at a time that have these environmental components where they’re part of the home.”

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

An example of what one of the Garden Cottages at 476 N. Laurel St. in Ashland, Oregon might look like. Photo taken from city document.{ }