From: Joani Blank (jeblankic.org)
Date: Sun, 29 Mar 1998 03:31:36 -0600
My two cents on private fences: 

It's my belief that in cohousing "fences do NOT good neighbors make"  If
you are thinking of the front of your houses toward the common area, fences
are a definite no-no, IMHO. I assume that your townhouses have the most
public areas (usually kitchens) at the front and looking out onto the
common area, so you certainly wouldn't want to put a fence between you and
your neighbors on that side. As for private fenced areas behind each house,
that is a somewhat different story.  But in my view those should be for
your special planting or somewhat private outdoor seating for your
household. Still, I say somewhat private, because I would not like to see
high fences that you can't see over even there. Perhaps a low fence to keep
a pet or a toddler safely inside would be okay, but you will be surprised
at how quickly toddlers get adopted by the whole community so that they
rarely need a secure place to play in their own "backyard." If the units
have "private"  backyards, it is my opinion that that should usually mean
that absent a specific invitation, folks from other households do not come
into "my" private backyard, any more than they would come into my living
room. However marking it off with some other landscape element or other
indicator that "says" this is private property, is much preferable to a

What do I mean? Well, when you walk down a suburban street you know without
there being a sign or a wall that people's front lawns are private
property, and there is rarely a fence or gate to indicate that. It is
simply understood--by everyone BUT toddlers. (Ever take a walk with a
toddler and have difficulty keeping him or her on the sidewalk?  I remember
that   one.)

If you do decide to have private fences, it is essential to have the group
come to consensus about the conditions under which they can be built, and
on matters such as permitted maximum height and limits on building materials. 

Joani Blank
Doyle Street and Old Oakland CoHousing, (neither of which has either back
or front  or side yards so what do I know)

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