Re: Private use of common land
From: Lynn Nadeau (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 20:15:19 -0500
At RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA, we have about four and a half 
acres (blocks) of common land. Two acres of it are taken up by the  
common house block, and another adjacent common block where we plan such 
uses as home occupation offices or studios and perhaps a common hobby and 
repair shop. Some of the rest is in a large central grassy field, where 
there are also wild rose thickets, a pump house-garden shed, and some 
vegetable gardens. The remaining commons is sort of intertwined with the 
housing, including some areas that are like local courtyards for certain 
groups of houses, and other areas that form corridors of commons for 
paths and such, among the houses. These "local" commons can be designed 
by their immediate neighbors, but the plans are supposed to be OK'd by 
the landscape committee. 

We've talked for years about adopting official criteria for commons use, 
but more urgent stuff seems to always intervene. So this isn't our 
official policy, but parts of it will doubtless get adopted when we get 
to it. In the meanwhile, perhaps it will suggest to others what sort of 
issues are involved 


USE of the COMMONS--an OVERVIEW

On the commons there are some things you
a)  can do - for sure, anytime, without a thought as to whether it's ok
        ex: walk, hum, eat a sandwich, dig out thistles and dandelions

b)  can't do- ever, ex: burn it down, paint it red, dump toxic wastes


In between, there are things we figure we can do because 
c) we see no harm in them and don't imagine anyone else would see harm
d)  someone else did it, or we did it before,  and nobody objected
e) we think it improves things for everyone
         C-D-E ARE  RISKY BECAUSE  WE HAVE SEEN THAT  ASSUMPTIONS ARE NOT  
SHARED; OTHERS DO NOT ALWAYS THINK AS YOU DO OR THINK THEY SHOULD



Then there are things we
f)  figure we can do, but had better check with someone else because 
something makes us wonder if it's for sure ok, or because we want to be 
polite
g)  know we can do, once we get a specified permission ; or know the 
CC&Rs require  permission but we don't know  what constitutes permission
h)  wish we could do, but doubt if other member(s) would approve
i)  wish we could do, but have past experience that others disapprove
        WRITTEN GUIDELINES in such cases TAKE AWAY A LOT OF GUESSWORK.

Then there are things we 
j) recognize as "risky" but do anyway, either hoping it will slide by, be 
forgiven, or get rationalized afterwards
k) know others disapprove, even that something is proscribed in our 
CC&Rs, but do anyway because we don't think the proscription is 
reasonable- we place ourselves "above the law", perhaps thinking that if 
we don't think it's  an important rule, then others must not either, so 
won't really care if we do it.
THESE ERODE  TRUST.

"LOCAL COMMONS" refers to those areas which are close to individual lots 
and seem to logically  offer areas in which some people will spend more 
time -- both in maintenance and recreation-- than the general RW 
population. It should be clarified in which areas which individuals or 
groups of people feel this sort of "local" interest.

Appropriate use of local commons (or anywhere on the commons, for that 
matter):
Proposed criteria- A use is acceptable if it is found that it 
1)  Is in accord with the CC&Rs and any other relevant group decisions or 
policies
2)  Does not preclude use or enjoyment by other members
3)  Does not preclude uses others have projected for the space
4)  Does not create negative effects like litter, undue noise, fire 
hazards, friction with non-RW neighbors 
5)  Does not create liability risks that the group is unwilling to take
6)  Does not damage the natural features unacceptably
7)  Is acceptably attractive
8)  Does not create future maintenance needs beyond what the creators, or 
the group, will accept responsibility for

Is the use permanent? ( a large concrete sculpture, for example,   or a 
forest of bamboo) In that case, particular attention should be paid to 
the future implications: are they OK?

The garden areas are a special case, and the Landscape Committee needs to 
work out a plan so people know if and how they can raise things on the 
commons.


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