Re: Question about household decision
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2018 07:43:09 -0700 (PDT)
> On Apr 5, 2018, at 9:59 PM, Chris Terbrueggen <christopher402 [at]> 
> wrote:
> I am going to make my question more specific. When a cohousing organization
> decides to become a condo association are there specific roadblocks to keep
> in mind when trying to develop a sociocracy governance system?

No. Everything in sociocracy can be fit into local laws one way or another. 
Requirements for a majority vote, for example. Consensus is a super super 
majority vote so no conflict. Absolute authority to the Board is absolute 
authority to decide if no one else does. The Board can delegate any of the 
powers given to it by the state to the membership. Our lawyer phrased it this 
way — it’s the Board’s responsibility to see that the decision is made 
following the requirements of the Association and civil law.

The concern is that individual homeowners — the investors — interests are 
protected. Someone has to be legally responsible for decisions. An analogy is 
that a parent is responsible for their child being educated. it’s a legal 
requirement. the child can decide to get educated in a number of ways as long 
as circumstances allow — private school, homeschooling, etc. But in the end, 
the parent is legally responsible if the child doesn’t follow through.

If a community is deadlocked over an hiring another lifeguard or closing the 
pool, the Board has to make the decision as required by the bylaws and the 
health department. And to protect the capital investments of the owners. If 
closing the pool will negatively affect market value and sales, the pool as 
advertised has to be open. They can hire the lifeguard. The homeowners can keep 

Banks are also concerned about this. Who has the authority to ensure the fiscal 
stability? “All you guys” is not an answer. The buck has to stop somewhere. 
That’s one reason the board should be insured against errors.

When the law says you have to do this, usually it means you have to do _at 
least_ this. The Board may be allowed to make decisions like tearing up the 
lawn and put in xeriscape, but that doesn’t mean no one else can be involved in 
the decision. Is the glass half-empty or half full? "The board will…”m doesn’t 
mean only the board will. 

Our lawyer calls it ratification — the board ratifies that the decision was 
made appropriately.

> After reading the national cohousing list serve history, I noticed that
> Sharon V.  made a distinction between monetary or fiscal issues when it
> comes to condo association decisions, compared to all other decisions.

The outside world cares about the money. The banks have monetary interests. The 
city does too — if your community goes bankrupt, they loose income and students 
in the school. They may be proud to have a cohousing community that gets so 
much publicity for the city and it may help their economy in a small way but it 
won’t balance the budget.

Money seems to be the hard place. That’s where problems become visible and 
affect the local economy.

> Concerning one decision or one vote per household.  I trying to understand
> how to grapple with this one, since I know that sociocracy uses consent and
> not voting. How could we resolve this issue in our condo docs? We will be
> writing our condo docs in the near future.

Short answer and I’ll write another message with more information. You have to 
prepare for worst case scenario. And there are probably some decisions that 
have to be recorded as the vote or approval of each homeowner or the owners of 
each unit. There are stipulations about how to record a vote/approval for a 
unit with multiple owners.

Think about how you count. “Owner" is a defined unit that can be counted and 
recorded. “Adult” is murky and several definitions could be used so if you want 
to count adults, you will need to define them. In most condos, the votes are 
based on percentage interest so the large units, the ones with more financial 
risk, have the strongest voice. We have one vote per unit so if there are 3 
people who own #101, there is still only one vote. We’ve never had to pay 
attention to it but it’s there if we have to make a decision to rebuild after a 
fire or not. Stuff like that.

Next message coming up.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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