Re: who owns the common house?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 7 May 2018 21:26:45 -0700 (PDT)

> On May 7, 2018, at 11:43 PM, Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]> wrote:
> Well.  This is one of the times I disagree w/ my neighbor, Sharon.  I don’t 
> remember any voice of the members saying we wanted to use the CH for 
> ourselves only.

I didn’t say “only.” But we were much more inviting at first. We stopped 
allowing groups to have weekly scheduled events—every Friday or every Sunday. 
We wanted the space to be available for us but also because it was a lot of 
work. Groups had to be supervised at some level — moving furniture, cleaning, 
security, etc. 

Those conference rooms at the Ramada have a whole staff to keep them in order 
for one meeting after another. We got tired.

> While it is true that little kids use the playroom during the day … our CH 
> which is well used other times is mostly vacant.  Sometimes there are day 
> time community meetings but not many. And sometimes a few people who work at 
> home do use the CH.  But honestly, as for most cohousing, it’s an 
> underutilized facility.

if you sit in the commonhouse working, you see people all day coming in and 
out. When I want to catch people I sit in the CH. If you just walk through it 
looks empty at that moment. 

Under-utilized is a relative word. Our lawyer charges $250 an hour. And he does 
that because so much of his time is underutilized. He can't bill for time that 
no one needs him.

For the CH to be available for spontaneous use, it has to be empty. Renting out 
the CH is like renting out your living room. It works fine once or twice a 
month, but unless that is your mission in life, more than that means it no 
longer feels like your living room.

> And, we are welcoming to our neighbors.   We DO open our CH to our larger 
> neighborhood.  We’ve had many community meetings, law enforcement meetings, 
> bike trail meetings, etc. etc. etc. in our CH.

We do have these things but not more than once a month, perhaps 2 in some 
months. And it is important for larger community that we have the space and it 
is almost always available for meetings on crime, city proposals, consideration 
of historic district issues, etc.

But is isn’t like in the beginning when we wanted everyone to meet there -- it 
was many more groups each week. Havurah on Friday night and Quaker services on 
Sunday morning. Monthly meetings of bird watchers, bike riders, reading clubs, 
etc. Around Christmas some years there was little space for our schedule — and 
they planned their schedule in August. 

Some people had the idea that renting the CH would defray costs and lower our 
condo fees. I don’t think that was ever realistic. Running a rental property is 
a lot of work. We already had plenty to do.

> I think strategic alliances with the larger community can reduce your 
> operating expenses and can be done to accommodate the needs of the parties.  
> It’s really not rocket science to develop a schedule and policies or 
> guidelines for use.

You can do a lot of things but it is also a commitment. If your commitment is 
providing and maintaining facilities and supervising their use, then it could 
be totally workable. But you have to realize how much work the Ramada is doing 
and be willing to do it yourselves. You will have two businesses. 

Ann has much more time and energy for these things than I think anyone else who 
lives at Takoma Village — or maybe anywhere in the world! 

Sharon Villines, Historic Takoma Park
In Washington DC, Where all roads lead to Casablanca

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