RE: "Gawkers" at cohousing communities (FWD)
From: Jean Pfleiderer (pfleiderer_jWIZARD.COLORADO.EDU)
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 95 14:29 CST
As a resident of an existing cohousing community I would like to reply to
Rob Sandelin's reply to David Adams:


>As a resident of an existing cohousing community I would like to reply 
>to David G. Adams comment:
>
>> but I normally have no qualms about walking on private streets
>>here in Arlington, and I think it is unhealthy to be so insular that anyone
>>caught walking around your village "has to be taught to be polite", or "is
>>like walking in my yard".  It's not yours.  That's why its called a Commons.
>
>The Commons aspect of cohousing is very analogous to the commons 
>concept of a condominium.  It is not common to everyone, only common to 
>the homeowners.

Yes, but it is still true that it is not "yours"--not your individual
property, but
property belonging to the group as a whole, which is a different thing from
your home
or your own yard.

  If you are not a homeowner then the commons does not 
>apply.

No renters at Sharingwood, eh?  We have some at Nyland.  They most certainly can
and do use the common areas.  

We don't have any warning signs at Nyland.  No "no trespassing" signs.  So,
if the casual Sunday 
driver happens to see the Nyland sign down by Baseline Road and turns in on
Nyland Way and drives 
all the way up to our parking area, where there are no "no parking" or
"private property" or "parking for residents only" signs, and parks his car,
and gets out, and walks around on what are clearly and obviously meant to be
sidewalks that do not say "no walking" or "private property" or "walking for
residents only", how is he doing something wrong or, if wrong, how is he
supposed to know better?  I personally would think nothing of walking about
in a neighborhood, as David talks about, where the roads and sidewalks are
no doubt municipality-owned, but without necessarily knowing for an absolute
fact 
that they are so owned.  If the road and walkway turned in to a cul-de-sac
or other limited access area, I still might feel perfectly okay about
walking there.  If I came to a locked gate, I'd probably turn away and
figure it for some hoity-toity private upperclass preserve, but if not I'd
probably not give it a second thought to just keep walking where my feet led
me.  Does Sharingwood have a perimeter fence and a locked gate?


 It is private property held by a group ownership rather than a 
>single owner. Group ownership does not imply nor should be considered 
>by others to be public ownership.

That's the problem, of course.  Group ownership is not public ownership, but 
how is a member of the general public to know which is which unless it is
fenced, or clearly posted?  Is Sharingwood clearly posted with no
trespassing signs?

  A street is implied to be public 
>ownership.

True enough, although of course it is not always.  So, are you saying it
should be all right
for my hypothetical Sunday driver to drive in off the main road up nicely
paved Nyland Way, 
maybe even park in the unmarked lot, so long as he DOES NOT GET OUT OF HIS CAR?

  The walkway of the interior of a condominium is considered 
>private ownership.

To tell the truth, in walking around in Boulder, let us say, I have never
bothered even to note which buildings are condos as opposed to apartments,
which are publicly funded housing projects as opposed 
to privately owned, and so on.  If I hesitate to walk up a sidewalk towards
a building, it's because I think the area might be dangerous, not because
I'm concerned that I'm trespassing.  Is that so different from 
the norm elsewhere?

  The example you give of visiting Winslow is a good 
>one in that their interior walkway is not in any way a public road and 
>that is very obvious from the layout.

Maybe.  I haven't been there.  But I would think Nyland's walkway could be
described similarly, in the sense that it is not a road and does not run
parallel
to the road (although it is possible in an emergency to use it for a road),
and rather
obviously does not go anywhere except to the homes in the Nyland community.
Nonetheless,
it is a pedestrian walkway.  I can easily imagine people supposing it was
perfectly acceptable
to walk on it, even though they do not live at Nyland or even know anyone there.

>
>As a stranger I would think you have no more welcome to walk around in 
>a private condominium walkway, inside of a condominium development, 
>than you have in a cohousing development.  The gated aspect of some 
>condominium developments is in response to unwelcome, uninvited people 
>walking around on private property.

Yes, and an effective one I'm sure.  Not what I had in mind when I first started
thinking about living in a cohousing community, but certainly a possibility, if
that's what you want.

>
>One way to look at this is that Cohousing is private property 
>development done cooperatively by a group of people.  It is not a 
>public project in the sense of a city park.

My point is, though, that a public park may be exactly what it looks like
to outsiders.

 The public  is welcome in 
>some cohousing groups by invitation only.  If you don't have an invite, 
>you are trespassing on private property.  I think it would be 
>irresponsible and rude to ignore this just because  you are involved in 
>a cohousing group.

I haven't visited any other cohousing communities.  But I have to admit it
would 
never have crossed my mind that I couldn't walk through one without calling
first.

 >That does not give you right of trespass.

You are right, of course, and should I visit Sharingwood, I'll check in with
you first
to see if I'd be welcome.  Or do I need to ask every household, so no one
thinks there 
is an uninvited stranger ramming around?  By the way, do any of your folks
keep guns?

> If a 
>cohousing group wants visitors by invitation only, and you disrespect 
>that, then you run the risk of getting asked to leave.

That's legit, but it seems to me groups that feel that way have a responsibility
to give outsiders a clue, by posting the perimeter or fencing it.

    The only way 
>you will know how a group feels about uninvited visitors is to call 
>them and ask.  The phone numbers of contact people in existing groups 
>can be found in the cohousing journal and can be reproduced on this 
>forum if anyone asks.

Now that I realize how unwelcome I would be, I've lost what little interest
I may have
had in ever visiting another coho community.  But, should I ever be near one
with some
time on my hands and nothing better to do with it, I will certainly call
first!  Better safe than sorry.

>
>As the person who does extensive networking for cohousing in my area I 
>have organized gatherings at Winslow, eaten dinner there, and know 
>people in that community.  I would not walk around in their development 
>without having called first so it is hard for me to imagine someone who 
>is a total stranger feeling it would be OK to walk around without an invite.

I can not imagine any community calling itself "cohousing" that would mind
having
you walk around in it, Rob, I really can't.  Have I missed something here?

Jean Pfleiderer
Jean Pfleiderer
Publications Specialist III
University Management Systems
University of Colorado

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