Ananda Village > Ananda Village Master Plan Update

Ananda Village Master Plan Update

 Press Release and FAQ

Nevada City, CA—Ananda Village, a 700-acre cooperative community on the San Juan Ridge, is set to expand slowly over the next 25 years, adding up to 100 homes by 2042. The Nevada County Planning Commission will review the Ananda Village Master Plan Update application at their regular meeting on April 27, 2017.

“We plan to continue the pattern of slow, organic growth established over the last 47 years.” explained Peter Goering, Ananda Village Manager. “The master plan update will give us 25 years to bring Ananda Village to full residential buildout, as allowed in the 1995 Nevada County General Plan.

The plan also proposes additional non-residential development in four established use permit areas:  the Expanding Light Retreat, the Living Wisdom School (pre-K through high school), the Village Center commercial area, and Rajarshi Park office and light industrial zone.

“Currently Ananda Village is home to about 200 people in 87 homes. The project will be an infill development within the existing Village boundary.  Ananda will not be adding property,” stated Goering.

Neighbors and all interested community members are invited to an open house on Monday, April 17, 5-8pm in the Ananda Community Center at 14618 Tyler Foote Road, Nevada City, CA 95959. Ananda Village management and Nevada County planners will be on hand to answer questions. “We’re looking forward to showing our neighbors the plan.”

Founded in 1969, Ananda Village is a private, non-profit community for people to live by yoga principles. Ananda has grown into a global spiritual movement of people living the change they want to see in the world. Ananda Worldwide includes seven modern ashram communities in the US, Europe and India, and 145 meditation groups and teaching centers in 28 countries. One of the most successful cooperative communities in the world, Ananda will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019.

For more information, contact Ananda Village Reception at 530-478-7500 or


Frequently Asked Questions

April 2017


What is Ananda Village?

Ananda Village is a cooperative community dedicated to the spiritual practices taught by Indian teacher Paramhansa Yogananda.   The community has been in existence since 1969 and is currently home to some 200 adults and children. All land and buildings are held under the non-profit Ananda Church of Self-Realization of Nevada County.


What is a Master Plan Update?

Since the mid 1970s Nevada County has designated Ananda Village as a Planned Development where all land use is governed by a County approved Comprehensive Master Plan. Ananda Village has updated its Master Plan several times since the 70’s and this current update examines further development as allowed under the Nevada County General Plan adopted in 1996 and amended in 2010.


What is the status of Ananda’s Master Plan Update?

The Master Plan Update was submitted to Nevada County Planning Department on March 4, 2015. During the last two years, there has been discussion back and forth between Ananda, Nevada County agencies, and state and federal agencies to refine the project.  As of April 11, 2017, the environmental review has been completed and the comment period on the Initial Study closed. The Master Plan Update will be discussed at a public hearing before the Nevada County Planning Commission on April 27, 2017. The County has made the Master Plan Update documents available to the public on the County’s website at:


What new development is included in this Master Plan Update?

The plan looks at Ananda Village at full buildout to the residential maximum of 195 dwelling units as designated in the County General Plan.  A maximum of 100 new residential dwelling units could be added to the existing development in both existing housing clusters and new housing clusters.  The plan also proposes additional non-residential development in four established use permit areas:  the Expanding Light Retreat, the Ananda Living Wisdom School, the Village Center commercial area, and Rajarshi Park office and light industrial zone.


How long will it take to reach full buildout?

Ananda Village has a 45-year history of slow, thoughtful development.  The development is not driven by an outside developer with a financial imperative to make a return on investment.  The residents of Ananda are the ones who plan, build, and live in the community.  The pace of development will depend on how many new members are attracted to Ananda Village and the ability of new members to find economic support in this remote rural area.  It is anticipated that buildout would occur over several decades.


Why does Ananda want to build another 100 houses?

The Ananda community is quite unique. There is a growing interest in cooperative spiritual living. We would like to accommodate those interested in experiencing this way of life.  We anticipate that Ananda’s pattern of slow growth would continue, and we may never reach full buildout.  However, it is a principle of good planning to look at the impact of full buildout rather than only looking at smaller incremental steps.


What is the difference between Ananda Village and a typical subdivision?

Ananda Village is owned by one entity and the land is not subdivided into residential lots. Many factors distinguish Ananda Village from a typical suburban subdivision, resulting in lower impacts. Houses are clustered together and, even at buildout, more than 75% of the land will be maintained as open space. Residents pool resources to manage the diverse Village landscape, maintaining agricultural land, forests, meadows, ponds, and riparian areas. Houses are small; the median size of existing dwelling units is 1100 sq. ft.  There will not be any secondary dwelling units allowed, as there would be in a typical subdivision. Most residences have very modest landscaped areas and almost no lawns.  Water use per residence is less than half of a typical subdivision.


Is there enough water to supply Ananda Village without negatively affecting the aquifer?

The Village sits in a topographic bowl atop the intersection of several bedrock formations and evidence suggests the presence of a water-abundant mini-aquifer in the central part of the Village, rare in the fractured rock environment of the Sierra foothills. Water balance calculations show that expected annual recharge from rainfall over the 706 acres will be 5-8 times greater than the water needs at full buildout. A large amount of the water used is returned to the groundwater system through on-site septic systems.  When these returns are considered, recharge is expected to be 8-11 times more than demand.  Even in very dry years (10% probability of occurrence), recharge is still expected to exceed demand by 3-5 times (6-8 times, considering septic returns).


The community is supplied by 5 wells clustered toward the interior of the development. All five wells were pumped continuously for 10 days in professionally supervised pump tests.  No connection was observed between Ananda wells.  A water operator licensed by the State runs Ananda’s licensed small-community water system.  Ananda already has in place a groundwater management program.  Depth-to-water in all wells is monitored and recorded continuously, and all pumping and end-use water consumption is metered and recorded. Well pumping will be managed to insure that no water producing fractures are dewatered, thus maintaining dynamic equilibrium in the aquifer.  In response to the drought Village residents decreased summer consumption in 2014 by over 20%, and in 2015, with a full year of conservation measures in place, the Ananda Village potable system pumped over 37% less water than in 2013.


How will wildlife habitat be affected?

Ananda Village is home to a large and abundant wildlife population, more than would be expected in a development of this density.  The absence of fences along lot boundaries, the prohibition of dogs within Ananda Village, and the maintenance of a diversity of vegetation types (mixed forest, oak woodland, grasslands, riparian, wetland, pasture, cropland) encourage wildlife.  The unfenced fuel reduction zones maintained around houses for fire safety, which feature canopy cover from large mature trees with an open understory, provide habitat that is in short supply in the surrounding overstocked woodlands.


At full buildout the development will maintain more than 75% open space. To offset impacts of new development Ananda will set aside areas for habitat preservation and enhancement.  No development will occur in these areas and the forest will be managed to encourage large mature trees, and enhanced wildlife habitat.


Dr. Edward Beedy and Ms. Carolyn Chainey-Davis have conducted a biological inventory of the entire 706 acres of the property and have developed oak habitat and wetland habitat management plans to protect habitat and biological diversity. No development is proposed for the sensitive and ecologically important land that is part of the watershed of the Middle Fork of the Yuba River. No development is proposed in any wetlands.


Will agricultural lands be affected by the plan?

Agriculture is and will remain an important part of land use at Ananda Village.  Ananda Village produces over 30,000 pounds of fruits, nuts and vegetables annually. Village Agriculture includes the Certified Organic production of Ananda Farms, Prana Gardens CSA (Ananda Community Supported Agriculture), and Ananda Permaculture, with over 10 acres fenced. The central farm area is irrigated from surface reservoirs.  Individual gardens are also supported and encouraged, and comprise another 4 acres. Village produce is utilized at the Expanding Light Retreat, sold in Ananda Village’s Master’s Market, and Mother Truckers (a local San Juan Ridge market), and prepared for individual households at the Village.


Ananda is actively rehabilitating pasture land acquired in 2005 that had long been abandoned. An area of about 26 acres is utilized as pasture for a cow cooperative, and two herds of goats are utilized throughout the Village open space for fire clearing and for milk, cheese and whey production in a goat cooperative.   Most of the agricultural activity takes place in the lower meadowlands, in areas that were historically farmed, and no development is planned for this area.


What will be done to mitigate fire danger?

Ananda Village has consulted with Mr. Vern Canon, former fire marshal of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, to prepare a comprehensive Fire Protection Plan.  Clustered development and cooperative management allow Ananda to clear and annually maintain extensive fuel reduction zones around all buildings.  Fuel reduction to decrease the intensity of wildfire is a primary management goal in the Forest Management plan prepared by RPF Mr. Kevin Whitlock and adopted as part of the Master Plan. The existing Fire Protection System for the Village consists of 595,100 gallons of water dedicated to fire suppression, stored in 14 tanks and 2 ponds, and hooked to hydrants located throughout the Village. Additional fire water storage will be installed for all new development.


Ananda Village has developed a fire contingency plan that includes the training of Village residents to assist local agencies in prepping structures for an approaching fire, safely evacuating threatened areas, and patrolling for spot fires before and after a fire moves through. The Ananda Village center is a designated Red Cross fire shelter, and the area is managed to provide a ”safe to stay” zone should that be necessary.


How will this proposal affect traffic on local roads?

Modelling done by the Nevada County Department of Transportation shows that Tyler Foote Road would maintain Level of Service A (the least impacted level of traffic), even if all parcels in the area were built out to the maximum density allowed in the 1996 General Plan, (the modeling included Ananda Village at the residential density proposed in this Master Plan). The traffic models assumed that Village residents would make multiple trips out of the Village every day.  This greatly overestimates trips generated by Ananda Village because most residents live, work, go to school, worship, and play within the Ananda Village Development. All roads within Ananda Village are private roads and are maintained by the community. No further traffic studies or road enhancements are anticipated because of development at Ananda Village.


Do residents of Ananda Village pay taxes?

Certain Ananda businesses, including the Expanding Light Retreat, Living Wisdom School, and Crystal Clarity Publishers, are not-for-profit businesses and do not pay corporate taxes.  However, Nevada County property taxes are assessed on all houses just like elsewhere in the County.  Businesses and residents pay local sales tax like all County residents.


While the land is owned cooperatively, Ananda Village is not an income sharing commune. All residents maintain their own finances and are subject to normal Federal and State income taxes. Businesses headquartered at Ananda Village, including community owned businesses and private businesses, support 140 full time equivalent jobs and contribute over five million dollars annually to the Nevada County economy.


Will the increased population at Ananda Village require an increase in government services?

A fundamental goal of Ananda Village since its inception was to create a development reminiscent of a traditional village where people lived, worked, went to school, worshiped and played within the village. This goal has largely been met and will continue in the future.  Even though residents pay County taxes, they also pool resources to pay for private roads, fire infrastructure, water infrastructure, schools, sewage disposal, telephone, high-speed internet, and recreational areas within Ananda Village.


What is Ananda doing to promote sustainability?

One of the spiritual practices of Ananda Village residents is living simply.  Houses are smaller than average and residents seek fulfillment through community relationships and spiritual practices rather than material possessions. Transportation impacts are minimized because homes are close to jobs and basic needs are met within the Village.  Ananda Village has multiple solar photovoltaic arrays totaling over 162 kW capacity and another large array of 192 kW u construction.  Future house sites are located on southerly facing slopes to allow for solar access for new development. Food production is integrated into the Village land use.  Firewood for heating homes is supplied from Village forest land. Residents have experimented with alternative building methods, including rammed earth and straw bale/cob.


How will the proposed development affect aesthetics on the rural San Juan Ridge?

Development is clustered and buffered so that it is well hidden from County right of ways and neighboring properties.  Within the development, care was taken to preserve major view corridors and obscure residential areas from the main roads through Ananda Village. The goal is for the visitor traversing the community to experience a beautiful rural landscape, comprised of agricultural land,

grassland, ponds, and forest, intermixed with occasional, partially screened development.


How can I find out more about the Master Plan Update?

Ananda Village will be hosting a Master Plan Open House on Monday, April 17 between 5pm and 8 pm at the Ananda Community Center Gym in the Ananda Village Center near Master’s Market.  Drop by during this time and you will be able to ask questions, look at studies and maps, and give your comments on the plan.  For further information or questions contact Peter Goering, village manager, at 530 478-7639, or