RE: Is the Common House a Public Building?
From: Eileen McCourt (
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 10:55:58 -0800 (PST)
We are a public building but not a commercial building.  We had to
provide stall toilets based on anticipated use and separate men's and
women's lavatories.  We have a single accessible shower detached from
the lavatories.  We follow the regulations for a public use of the
building, and our pool follows public use rules, which are more
stringent than residential pools regulations, e.g. we must demonstrate
that we test the water each day and that we have a process in place to
shut down the pool and spa to remedy any public health conditions.

We have an elevator and underground parking which also have public use
conditions.  In my understanding, being a public building simply means
that we are built to standards that are based on more concentrated use
than a residential building. We fought this, especially the toilets and
lavatories, but were overruled by the city.  I think our architect was
trying to avoid a commercial designation, so didn't fight too vigorously
on the subject of being a public building.  While I was very opposed to
the bathroom being as they are, they're not really onerous, as I
expected them to be.


-----Original Message-----
From: Joani Blank [mailto:joani [at]] 
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 7:52 PM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: RE: [C-L]_ Is the Common House a Public Building?

I am surprised to hear that you had to consider your common house a
building.  You aren't serving public meals there. You are serving meals
residents of your community on a part of the property that belongs to
of you,  How is that any different from any one of  your neighbors
having a 
bunch of his/her neighbors in for dinner at his/her house?  Or folks who

live in a conventional condo having occasional--or even
in their community room. I'm also surprised to hear about the
for stall toilets. Did they require you to have separate men's and
bathrooms too?

Joani Blank
Swan's Market Cohousing
Oakland, CA

Eileen McCourt wrote:

As far as I know, we were able to avoid the health dept. rules for a
"commercial" kitchen, but we do meet the standards for a "public"
building -
one of the reasons we have the stall toilets that we do.  We were not
allowed to have regular residential bathrooms because of the use of the
building.  As far as the city is concerned, we are a public building,
for the pool, etc.  We are following all of those requirements.


-----Original Message-----
From: normangauss [at] [mailto:normangauss [at]]
Sent: Monday, December 13, 2004 11:22 PM
To: Developing cohousing - collaborative housing communities
Subject: [C-L]_ Is the Common House a Public Building?

Does anybody know whether California regulations for public buildings
to cohousing common houses?

We have a kitchen that serves public meals.  We have restrooms that
groups of visitors.  We have guestrooms in which visitors are lodged.
these kinds of facilities considered "public" and therefore expected to
held to standards set by the state government?

Norm Gauss
Oak Creek Commons Cohousing
Paso Robles, CA  93446

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