Architectural review and related topics
From: Pat Elliott (pdelliott43gmail.com)
Date: Sat, 12 Oct 2013 14:31:06 -0700 (PDT)
Our senior/active adult cohousing community in the Sierra foothills in northern 
California would like to draw on the experience and wisdom of other cohousing 
communities regarding architectural guidelines, including the substance of such 
guidelines and the process of enforcement or implementation.  We would 
appreciate copies of any relevant documents along with any commentary about 
their development and use.

We live in a three story building with 30 units, each on a single floor, the 
building in the shape of a wide V.  Most units have an exclusive use common 
area of a balcony or patio area in the back of the units, all visible from 
public streets.  In front of each unit is a large common area walkway, some 
portions of which are used for private uses (plants, chairs, etc.).  In 
addition, we have an extensive common area with landscaping and other 
improvements.

As in many communities, we have a range of view on the desirability of rules or 
guidelines about anything, including architectural matters, appearance of the 
building exterior, landscaping, etc.  Some want a uniformly maintained, 
integrated appearance; others are comfortable with "whatever".  We are trying 
to establish an architectural review team do develop and implement 
architectural guidelines.  Again, we have a spectrum of those not wanting such 
a team to have any authority to make any decision about anything to those 
wanting the team to approve changes, improvements, both exterior and interior, 
etc, with a full right of appeal to the board (which consists of all members).

We have CC&Rs prepared by the developer's attorney which by their terms have 
priority over any community agreements we might adopt.  Many feel the CC&Rs 
shouldn't have any power over our community since we didn't approve them by 
consensus in any meaningful way, way back in the development phase, or at least 
that consensed community agreements should have priority over the CC&Rs.  
Others feel the CC&Rs should be controlling, no matter what.  Have you faced a 
similar situation regarding priority of CC&Rs vs. later adopted community 
agreements and how have you dealt with it?

Soooo, we have a few challenges ahead.  In addition to sharing any relevant 
documents, can you tell us what is working or not working for your community in 
this regard (i.e. architectural review/control issues and priority of governing 
documents)?  What would you do if you were starting all over?  What should we 
definitely not do?  Etc.

You can send documents not available on the internet to me at pat6 [at] me.com. 
 Please send a link to useful things on the internet.  Thank you for your kind 
attention.

Pat Elliott
Wolf Creek Lodge

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