Fiduciary Responsibilities - Taking Care of the Community
From: Norman Gauss (
Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2012 09:40:06 -0700 (PDT)
Our community has a long history of trying to minimize arbitrary actions by
the Board of Directors.  The feeling is that, in cohousing, the whole
community should be making important decisions.   The literature is replete
with stories of domineering Boards lowering the boom on the HOA without any
recourse from the membership.

 However, in California, the whole community may make ill-advised decisions
with legal impunity that may make living here potentially hazardous with
respect to personal safety, susceptibility to fires, termite infestation,
attacks by dogs, access to emergency vehicles, and preventative measures
minimizing the need for special assessments.  But the whole community does
not have fiduciary responsibilities for its members and cannot be held
liable for negligence or purposely making decisions based on personal
preferences of a few members.

The Board of Directors, being a fiduciary body, legally cannot let personal
interests of its members be a basis for its decisions.  It must have the
welfare of the community in mind rather than the welfare of its members.  If
found to have been negligent or to have purposely made decisions that were
not in the best interests of the community, it can be accused of malfeasance
and liable to be sued.  Our membership is uncomfortable with the Board
making unilateral decisions and is not willing to give the Board leeway to
act in the best interests of the HOA.

Does this type of conflict exist in other cohousing communities?

Norman Gauss
Oak Creek Commons
Paso Robles, CA

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