The Kashia (“Kashaya”) Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria consists of about 1,000 members with ancestral ties to coastal Sonoma County and who now live across four counties in Northern California. Confronted with a housing crisis affecting especially its low-income members, the Band acquired a 2.5-acre site in the Town of Windsor for family housing and a new headquarters and cultural center. With support from Santa Rosa-based nonprofit Burbank Housing, the Band is now developing the site for four garden-style apartment buildings (including fifty-four units affordable to households earning 30-60% of the area median income) and a new government operations building with public exhibition space. Prominently located along Old Redwood Highway, the parcel was previously developed as a gas station and motel. Today, few signs of those uses remain among the wild grasses, scattered oak trees, and drainage swale that crosses the site.

The Kashia Windsor Family Housing design took shape in response to a series of workshops with tribal members. The PYATOK design team engaged in small group conversations aided by site programming kits to understand needs and aspirations and work out alternative schemes for a healthy and thriving new community. Community members shared preferences for multigenerational living, privacy between the residences and offices, earthy palette, and themes honoring traditional tools and materials. PYATOK was able to discuss its experience on other Native housing and mixed-use projects that resonated with the community’s aspirations.

Through subsequent workshops, a standalone community building was developed to include a double-height cultural arts gallery that, along with a fitness room, would face the roadway and establish a public frontage. A multipurpose community room, meanwhile, would open towards a protected outdoor courtyard, landscaped swale, and four buildings containing family apartments. San Rafael-based landscape architects Costello Kennedy – themselves a Native-owned business – co-led the workshops, examined site sensitivities and appropriate plantings, and introduced an assortment of resilient native vegetation that could take advantage of the seasonal shifts along the swale. By the third workshop, the proposed buildings and outdoor spaces could simultaneously accommodate gatherings and privacy, and employ a materials palette of unpainted woods, muted colors, and woven patterns.     

“This project is a wonderful example of how listening and engagement uncovered the preferences of the resident community,” notes PYATOK Principal Theresa Ballard, adding that even without consensus, close attention to the discussions identified shared values. “In particular, we came away with a nuanced understanding of the importance of layering spaces – public, semi-public, semi-private, private – in a way that enhances the sense of community among the Kashia but still makes room for the individual.”

At a Windsor Planning Commission meeting in September, the tribal chairman spoke of the community’s traditional role as a “host tribe,” welcoming all visitors to their lands for peaceful trading. “I don’t think that was explicitly named in our workshops,” Theresa reflects, “but it made a lot of sense in the context of what we learned.” That evening, the commission unanimously approved the project’s site plan, design review, and affordable housing incentives.

Design Development is scheduled to kick-off in January 2022.

Pyatok - Kashia Community Workshop

Kashia Community Workshop

Pyatok - Conceptual Site Plan

Conceptual Site Plan