Re: Off-site members
From: David L. Mandel (
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 95 09:56 CDT
A new (?) question for all you existing community residents:

        We're probably about to have our first off-site semi-member. One of our
members bought a run-down house across the street and planned to rent it out
after renovating it into three apartments. Now, for financial and perhaps some
personal reasons, he has announced that he plans to move into one of the units.
And he wants to continue participating in the community, cooking and eating,
doing maintenance chores, using the common facilities, etc. Quite a
debate/discussion has broken out over:
        @ Should we allow this at all? (Nearly everyone says yes, but for
different reasons.)
        @ Should we allow it for this case only, because the person involved is 
valued community member and will still be an owner of one of our units, at least
for a while? (Those who generally don't want to expand into the surrounding
neighborhood take this view. They note that the common dining room is already
crowded for some meals and that we have enough trouble keeping our existing
community on an even keel without taking on new semi-members as a rule.)
        @ Should we admit that we are setting a precedent if we allow this and
talk about policies regarding off-site members in general? (Those who want to
consider incorporating more neighbors support this. They are willing to consider
allowing cook teams to limit the number of people who sign up for meals.)
        @ Should we make his participation conditional on selling his cohousing
unit or at least exert peer pressure on him to actively seek an appropriate
buyer? (Those who say yes are nervous about owners who move away and rent out
their units. This particular one, a five-bedroom unit, already has seen as many
as four renters sharing space with its single owner. Others like the idea,
within limits, of having a handful of renters. They have added a lot to our
community and it would be particularly sad to lose the unit's current residents
if it's sold to an owner-occupant.)
        @ If he is given non-resident member status, should he be assessed for
that small portion of the monthly homeowner dues that goes for common area
utilities and maintenance? And should it make a difference if he still owns a
cohousing unit and pays dues for it even though he's not living there but has
rented it out?

        Have any other groups grappled with these questions? What have you come
up with? Thanks for your help, as usual.

David Mandel, Southside Park Cohousing, Sacramento

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