Project Description

San Francisco Zen Center and Kendal have recently partnered to create a new type of community, designed for individuals 55 and over who wish to live and age together in an uplifting and enriching setting, with support for wellness, active engagement with the world, safety and continued learning. The community, which will nurture the practices of meditation and mindfulness, will be part of the Kendal System, designed for a diverse population with wide-ranging needs and interests, and operated with a spirit of inclusion. A variety of wellness and fitness programs will be provided, and community members will organize virtually all aspects of social, cultural, intellectual and spiritual life.

An 11.5-acre site has been reserved in Rohnert Park, California, facing Sonoma Mountain and within a master-planned mixed-use development designed to meet the highest level of environmental responsibility. A team of professionals—including Greenbrier, a senior housing development company, architects, land-use experts, staff and board members from San Francisco Zen Center and Kendal, and financing partners—is fully engaged in developing a program that will be attractive to a diverse community. Residents will be able to study at the nearby Osher Lifelong Learning Program at Sonoma State University, attend the Green Music Center, ride the Smart Train to Santa Rosa or to the Larkspur Ferry Landing, and enjoy Sonoma County. The site is about 45 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Residents will be invited to practice meditation in the centrally located meditation hall with Senior Zen practitioners, who will be in residence. Residents will have access to classes, workshops and retreats and will have the opportunity to garden and cook together. While the community will not be strictly vegetarian, an important aspect of community life will be a dining venue inspired by the Greens restaurant in San Francisco, which was started over 40 years ago by San Francisco Zen Center.

The community will be designed to encourage aging in place. Assisted Living and Memory Support programs will be available for residents, if needed.

Initial surveys and research indicate a strong interest in this community. More detailed research will be conducted in the coming months to learn how best to meet the desires of the intended population, including the preferred sizes and mixes of residences, desired amenities and financial options.
Many things will change as market research and the development process unfolds. Please sign up to receive regular updates, or to participate in focus groups, to help us determine what programs and services are most important to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Zen Inspired Senior Living Project (ZISL)?

The way for SFZC to bring to the world a new model of aging –together, aware, with the flavor of Zen and opportunities for spiritual practice.

Zen values of respect, compassion, community, environmental responsibility and simple design will be expressed.

Is it for San Francisco Zen Center practitioners, residents and teachers only? How will you select who can live in the facility?

There will be no requirement of practice and anyone is welcome.

Will there be an age limit?


Will long term care be provided?

We are exploring ways to bring on experienced partners sharing our commitment to compassionate care. Residents will be independent with care available in their homes or nearby.

How many people will live in this project, and how many homes/flats will be offered to the public?

We are looking at between 200 and 250 homes, designed to create neighborhoods and intimate as well as public spaces. Up to 20 retired SFZC clergy will be in residence.

Will ZISL also provide for those with limited mobility or dementia?

Homes and public spaces will be designed with principles of universal design. We are seeking a partner to provide memory care.

Will residents be able to have pets?


What facilities will be provided?

Greens restaurant and other café options – open to the public as well as residents; community garden, zendo, community kitchen, transportation, etc.

How will Zen practice be integrated into everyday life?

Daily sittings, classes, practice groups, lectures and workshops will be available, though no obligation to practice will be required.

What is the vision for the accommodation (e.g. mix of rooms, apartment, houses, etc.)?

We have brought on market researchers to help us craft a mix that best meets the need of the greater community.

What is different from this retirement living facility than others in the SF Bay Area?

Zen Inspired Senior Living will offer the chance to age together within a community of neighbors sharing values and a commitment to the environment, community, and practice. Plus, our food will be much better, the design of the common and private spaces will be simple and elegant, and care, as needed, will be provided by caregivers trained in compassionate care.

What will be the price range of accommodations being offered?

We are figuring out the ownership and rental options.

Why is SFZC involved in this project?

We are responding to a demand we often hear from people wanting to live in such a community. In addition, SFZC has an obligation to retired monks for lifelong housing.

What is the energy and sustainability policy for the project?

We are exploring certification as a One Planet Community, an extremely high commitment to the environment.

Who will manage the scheme?

SFZC and partners.

Can the local housing market support a project like this?

Initial market research and feasibility analysis is very encouraging.

Will anyone be able to use the communal facilities?
The zendo and other offerings will be available to the public.
Who are the current investors and proposed partners?

A generous donation of over $3 million is serving as seed money. There may be opportunities for friends of SFZC to invest equity in the project as well.

About San Francisco Zen Center
San Francisco Zen Center was established in 1962 by Japanese Zen priest, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and his American students. Suzuki Roshi is known to countless readers as the author of the modern spiritual classic, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Today, San Francisco Zen Center is one of the largest Buddhist sanghas outside Asia. It has three practice places: City Center, in the vibrant heart of San Francisco; Green Gulch Farm, whose organic fields meet the ocean in Marin County; and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center – the first Zen training monastery in the West in the Ventana Wilderness inland from Big Sur. These three complementary practice centers offer daily meditation, regular monastic retreats and practice periods, classes, lectures, and workshops.

In the spirit of Beginner’s Mind, Zen Center has long been a quiet force of cultural dynamism and change, with a dedicated history of reconsidering conventional wisdom and pushing the boundaries of cultural traditions and modes of thinking.

About Kendal
Kendal is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where ground was broken for the first Kendal community in 1971. Kendal provides advice, leadership and support to the communities and services in eight states that make up the Kendal System, primarily by helping to develop and disseminate model practices, facilitate economies of scale and advance responsible growth. As a system of not-for-profit communities, programs and services founded on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Kendal aspires to transform the experience of aging, guided by Kendal’s Values and Practices.