Re: Associate membership policies
From: Martha Wagner (
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2014 22:03:08 -0800 (PST)
Thanks for responding to my question about Associate Membership policies, 
Douglas and Jim. Neither of you specified what the fees are for various 
categories of non-owner membership, but I am also curious to know what costs 
the fees cover in your community and whether fees go to your HOA general fund.

Martha Wagner
Portland, OR


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 07:09:15 -0800
From: "Douglas G. Larson" <ddhle [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Cohousing-L Digest, Vol 121, Issue 30
To: <cohousing-l [at]>
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<Does your community have an associate membership policy that?s been in
effect for at least two or three years? In my community, we don't have such
a policy yet, but would like to know what other <communities have done to
formalize welcoming relationships with neighbors as well as former owners
and renters. Here are some questions we have:

<Do your associate members pay a one-time or annual fee per individual or

<If there is a fee, what does the fee entitle them to?

<Is there a screening process used for people wanting to become associate

<Can associate members participate in work parties, cooking, etc., and if
so, do you have them sign a liability waiver?

<Are they welcome to attend your meetings, and if so, do they participate in
discussion and decision-making? 

<Have problems arisen with your policy or is it working well?

Here at Songaia we have had an associate member policy for several years. I
don't recall exactly when we adopted it but it was at least 4 years ago. It
may have been 5 or 6 years ago.  

We spent many, many hours drafting and discussing our policy taking about a
year to do so.  We have 3 levels of associates with renters being a 4th
Each level carries a fee with it though for level 1, the lowest and most
restrictive level (with the fewest privleges), we ask for a donation. Each
higher level carries higher fees and more rights, privileges and
responsibilities that go with it. 

The full details of our policy are too complex to type here. I can send you
a copy if you are interested. 

As for problems, we have had a few, though I don't recall the nature of them
just now. They were small problems as I recall. 

We revising the policy now, though that is because we are adopting a larger
structure to encompass not only Songaia but out two neighboring communities.
The most significant parts of the revision have to do with renters. I don't
recall all of the proposed revisions just now. 

We have quite a few associate members. I don't know the exact number but its
over 20. Of that number only about 7 or 8 come around on a regular basis.
The rest come occasionally.

Douglas Larson
Songaia Cohousing,
Bothell, Washington


Message: 2
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 13:24:42 -0500
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Experiences in handling difficult issues
To: Cohousing-L Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
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On Feb 20, 2014, at 2:40 PM, Willow Murphy <willowm7 [at]> wrote:

> We are especially concerned about times when some members have strong 
> feelings and concerns against a proposal and others have "facts" to support 
> it, which we have recently experienced.   This has brought up the tough issue 
> of whether we value facts over what are believed to be legitimate concerns, 
> or vice versa. Concerns may be devalued, because there aren't as many facts 
> to back them up.  The question of caring about our neighbors feelings came 
> up, the
> question of either group "forcing their will" on the other, the importance of 
> saving money over health concerns or the reverse, and how to find what really 
> IS best for the community as a whole?

Some decisions are hard and no process will make them easier. In the end, you 
have to make the decision and do a review of its success. By measuring the 
actual against the aim, then you know what changes to make to move toward 

Shorten the time period of the proposal and add evaluation criteria. These 
criteria should address the concerns and the facts. Most facts have a context 
so they may not be facts in your context. There is a huge movement now to 
reexamine the many research studies that purport to prove things that turn out 
to be bad studies or misinterpreted or reported results. The recent shocker is 
that the evidence for the great cholesterol scare evidence was made up and 
there is no correlation between red meat and heart disease.

So treat facts with care, but I'm always amazed at how many people are 
perfectly comfortable ignoring facts. That'w where measurement comes in. 
Measure in your own community.

The "forcing your will" on others goes both ways. The people who don't want to 
move forward are forcing their will on those who do. Don't fall for the guilt 
trip. Stick with the facts as you know them and can measure them.

My personal feeling is that the "community as a whole" is only in the eyes of 
the individual, and groups of individual. No matter what the issue is some will 
feel more or less strongly about it. I am fairly sure that no matter what the 
issue is, I could find someone in the community who would argue with me about 
it, even issues on which no one objected.

The best solution, I think, is to respect the concerns of all sides, pro and 
con, and work out a way forward. Moving forward is important. Moving forward is 
the only way to measure whether the proposal is a good one or bad one. Even if 
you don't go forward, you can measure the results of not moving forward and try 

Does my community do this? Of course not. It takes too much attention. But we 
are getting much better at it.  After 14 years, the most difficult decisions 
never come up for a decision because we can't figure out how to propose a 
solution. Like bike storage, workshare -- the big things. We haven't had a 
proposal come forward in a long time that wasn't accepted. But some are stuck 
in the pre-meeting stage. And some dissatisfactions just bubble about.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC


Message: 3
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 16:02:29 -0500
From: Jim Snyder-Grant <jimsg [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ associate membership policies
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
        <CAE08cf=31=q+DsbP1j-b9ib8ce+HPmZBJGhhu=+Hd0fqw+UddA [at]>
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Hi Martha (et al):

Here are links to our policies. These
outline our policies. We've used this form of them for at least 10 years.
They seem to work fine.

We make a distinction between those who live right near by, within walking
distance, who participate a lot (with very few limits) and pay a fairly
substantial fixed annual fee; and others who typically live farther away
and participate sometimes (with more limits), and pay less, and on a
sliding scale

We don't use liability waivers: I believe our generic liability policy
provides sufficient protection, and liability waivers aren't as protective
as people think (I can't bind my heirs from suing you for wrongful death
for example).


Jim Snyder-Grant
Home: 978 266-9409
Cell: 508 572-2985
18 Half Moon Hill
Acton MA 01720

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