Re: Private? Public? or something in between?
From: Mary E. Faccioli (
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 11:59:01 -0600 (MDT)

I would recommend that folks try to get clear on what the nature of their 
discomfort is.  Is it really driving the bikes too fast?  If so, direct 
communication with the offending cyclists seems appropriate.  Asking kids - 
repeatedly if necessary - not to skateboard on your steps is appropriate if 
that activity is unwanted.  What you're asking is that your property be 
respected.  People will in turn respect that you are communicating directly.

It won't happen immediately that the behavior will cease but over time things 
will improve.  This has been my experience in other living situations I've been 
in, and e-mail communication I've had with folks on this list has led me to 
believe that others also have had this experience in their communities.  

Especially if your community is new, it is going to take a while for the 
neighbors to get used to the new property and how to use it or not to use it.  
If your community is built on a space that used to have another function, like, 
a lot or field that was played on or used as a cut-through or a spot for drug 
deals, it will take a little time for folks to get used to the new neighborhood 
that's been built there. Hitting the problem direct-on by being friendly but 
clear about your boundaries, and then being patient with the results is, in my 
mind, a good course.  In the meantime, lock up your bikes, and reduce other 
opportunities for crime.  

However!  If the nature of the discomfort is that you don't want outsiders on 
the property, then there are other approaches.  You could post "private 
property" signs, put up fences, gate your community, and take other indirect 
(in terms of communication) measures that make clear to the neighbors that they 
are not welcome on your property.  I would make sure this is the message you 
intend to send before sending it!  As a cohousing community, do you value 
relationships with the neighbors outside?  Some work on establishing those 
relationships is needed in a new community and I would strongly caution against 
circumventing that process with signs and fences.  

To answer your questions specifically for East Lake Commons in Atlanta, GA:
 - What do you do about access by neighbors?
We have a fence surrounding the 20 acre property and a security gate at the 
front entrance, so neighbors cannot access the property without calling someone 
and being buzzed in or knowing the code (or hopping the fence)
- Has it been beneficial?
I believe several people feel it has reduced theft, provided a safe place for 
children to play, etc.  Others believe this has had a negative effect on our 
ability to build relationships with the neighbors 
- Do you encourage or discourage it?
I discourage the use of a gate.  I also discourage putting up signs and fences 
without first trying to see if direct communication and time to establish 
relationships will work.  
- Have you had any problems?
We still have occasional property crime, but it has generally been very 
effective at keeping others out.  
- Have you put up signs?
no signs
- How were they worded?
- What has worked for you?
I imagine many folks at East Lake Commons would say the gate is a very workable 
solution, especially since we have a committee that deals with 
outside-community outreach.  But as someone who doesn't believe in keeping 
everyone out, living in a gated community is just about unbearable for me.

I wish you much luck and success in dealing with this challenging issue.

Mary Beth Faccioli
East Lake Commons
Atlanta, GA

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