Re: subdivision map act
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 02:56:11 -0700 (PDT)
On Wed, May 28, 2008 at 10:37 AM, Robert Moskowitz <
robert [at]> wrote:

> Last night I was informed that it may be possible to convert a rental
> apartment to a cohousing unit via something called the Subdivision Map Act.
> Does anyone know anything about this, or can anyone point me to more
> information?


it sounds like your informant was referring to California state law, the
planning zoning and development codes, division 2, chapter 4 (and no, I am
not a lawyer, so this information is worth exactly what you paid for it).

Check out sections 66474-66494... it does give the city or county a lot of
opportunities to say "no", for any of a specific set of clearly defined

In creating new condos, in the conventional new-build cohousing model,
approval of the tentative map is a key milestone, often a trigger for an
option on a site vesting (becoming payable), because of the legal assurances
that the project has been deemed "approved" at that point (pending appeals
within a specified period afterwards).

When Mariposa Grove cohousing (Oakland, CA) sought approval to become a
limited-equity coop, the city required that some useful/desirable elements
be removed, i.e. windows that were too close to a where a neighbor might
potentially build... they also had to dig up building permits from as much
as half a century prior for work done by a previous owner, to show they had
a right to have a stove in a certain spot, and modernize some electrical and
other systems... it's no small task to bring a property "up to code," as
they call it, to jump through the eye of this particular needle. This is why
partnering with an experienced developer is recommended, even for
retrofit/infill/structural re-use projects of this sort... no matter what
how much you think you've taken care of everything, new challenges will
inevitably emerge during the process, and could well stop a project in its
tracks, after years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars of
potentially nonrecoverable investment. Just ask Marsh Commons (Arcata, CA)
about the effects of finding toxics on the site during construction, for one

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
Northern California Cohousing Regional Organizer

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