Re: Is the Common House a Public Building?
From: normangauss (
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 18:50:23 -0800 (PST)
If both the common house and the underground garage are public buildings,
does that imply that everything we do, including capital improvements and
running the HVAC, must be performed according to the standards of public
buildings in this city.

Are there standard settings and schedules for HVAC systems that the city
requires public buildings to adhere to?
Do capital improvements have to be inspected by city inspectors to insure
that they meet city codes for public buildings?

Norm Gauss
Oak Creek Commons
Paso Robles, CA

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Eileen McCourt" <emccourt [at]>
To: "'Developing cohousing - collaborative housing communities'"
<cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Sunday, December 19, 2004 10:55 AM
Subject: RE: [C-L]_ Is the Common House a Public Building?

> 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.
> --eileen
> -----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
> public
> building.  You aren't serving public meals there. You are serving meals
> to
> residents of your community on a part of the property that belongs to
> all
> 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
> regular--potlucks
> in their community room. I'm also surprised to hear about the
> requirement
> for stall toilets. Did they require you to have separate men's and
> women's
> 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,
> same
> for the pool, etc.  We are following all of those requirements.
> --eileen
> -----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
> apply
> to cohousing common houses?
> We have a kitchen that serves public meals.  We have restrooms that
> serve
> groups of visitors.  We have guestrooms in which visitors are lodged.
> Are
> these kinds of facilities considered "public" and therefore expected to
> be
> held to standards set by the state government?
> Norm Gauss
> Oak Creek Commons Cohousing
> Paso Robles, CA  93446
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