Re: Commercial use of common house space.
From: Chris ScottHanson (
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 08:54:04 -0700 (PDT)
It seems that most common houses in most cohousing communities are used only a small percentage of the time during a day, and generally only between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. (with many exceptions, of course) The rest of the time they stand vacant - aging, decaying, waiting for human users to join them and make them useful.

It seems to me that the basic environmental principals of reduce, reuse and recycle would lead one to and understanding that we should use the common house in our communities as much and as often, for as many things as possible, so that other spaces do not have to be built to accommodate these uses. Put another way, the financial and environmental cost of building a common house should be amortized over many uses, for as much of each day as possible during its lifetime.

I would suggest that, the more limited or specific the use of any common house, the more environmental cost, and the bigger the environmental footprint of owning that common house.

Should we allow social complexity, taxation issues, and concepts of interpersonal fairness to add to the environmental cost of owning a common house? Keeping them in perspective, I think we should be motivated to move past those social and intellectual concerns.


On Aug 26, 2005, at 11:28 AM, Stacia Leech and Gary kent wrote:


We are a recently occupied cohousing community on the west coast of
Canada - Roberts Creek Cohousing. Our common house was finished in May
and we've been having regular meals since then and slowly moving into
the space.  We have all the usual common house rooms - dining, kitchen
(large open space), office, guest suite, pantry, multi purpose room -
small, laundry, children's room.

We have had a request from one member to use the large open space
(dining, kitchen) once per week (mornings) for a business venture.  It
will be for approx 1 hour and involve clients (approx 10) possibly some
from our community and the greater community.

Her venture runs on a ten week schedule and we assume will run
throughout the year.

This request has brought forth many diverse opinions on the merits
and/or challenges of tying up our community space for members commercial ventures. The office was designed to accommodate members who needed an office space and either do not have the space at home or do not have the right environment for a home office (noisy kids etc., ). We anticipated that this space would be used for members conducting 'business', however
we have never had a discussion about the larger open community space
being available for business.

Some of the area's of concern are:

What percentage of time should be allotted to commercial use?

Are there activities we don't want to see happening there?

If so, how do we differentiate?

What about parking, clean-up, use of equipment/facilities?

How do we go about booking in a fair and equitable manner?

What happens when community and commercial needs conflict?

Do we charge/what do we charge?

What is that money then used for?

Any sage wisdom from you ancient cohousers?

Cheers, Stacia (Leech) <> /robertscreek


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