Re: Policy Committee & Condo law and Cohousing?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:39:34 -0700 (PDT)
In Massachusetts, Cornerstone is organized under conventional Chapter 183A 
condo law.  Thus the requisite Managing Board (an elected team or circle) has 
the overall power and duty for day-to-day management of the condo.  The 
ultimate authority, however, is the Association itself, which, acting as 
plenary, can supersede or replace the Board.  (An Association rising up to 
contradict its elected Board is a rare event, but not unheard of.)

But and however, the Association and the Board are free to delegate substantial 
power and duty to other groups:  committees, circles, teams, whatever.  And 
this is what we do.  By this method, we honor the cohousing traditions of 
self-management, broad participation, equivalence, and distribution of power — 
while at the same time, remaining aligned with State enabling legislation.  
Much of this delegation happens in the next layer down below the bylaws — that 
is, in the policies (“rules and regulations”) adopted by plenary.  Our plenary 
consensus process is embedded and articulated in our bylaws, but we were 
advised by our attorney that the Association has broad discretion in defining 
how it makes decisions.  Thus far, we’ve had no exogenous challenge of 
consensus procedures.  All this works in Mass; don’t know how it plays out in 
other States.

Yes, we are currently having some difficulty with FNMA, FHA, etc, over some 
provisions in the bylaws, like rules for rental, right of first refusal in 
sales transactions, and so on.  But as it turns out, we don’t much like our own 
rules anyway, so we’re looking into re-writing them.  Adjusting these details 
doesn’t seem to pose any threat to the principles of cohousing self-governance.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at]

> On Jul 15, 2019, at 2:05 PM, Ann Lehman <ann [at]> wrote:
> Hi Folks,
> We at the national level would like to start a Legislative Policy Committee
> and are encouraging all who are interested to join.  It won't be until the
> Fall but please *let me know if you are interested.*  The focus (still
> being formed) would be to highlight legislative successes, offer models for
> others, and advocate for changes that encourage more cohousing.
> On that note, we had an interesting discussion at our PDX Plus meeting on
> Saturday (July 13th).  It involved the sometimes unnatural hoops we jump
> through to fit our bylaws into condo law.  I'm curious if anyone has tried
> (or succeeded) in changing condo laws or any other housing law to not only
> accommodate cohousing but to actually highlight it?
> Best,
> Annie
> *Ann Lehman
> **Zimmerman Lehman
> Board Governance Specialist
> ** <>
> **510.755.5701*
> *Yoga Instructor
> Slow Yoga for Savvy Bodies
> **
> <>
> *
> *CoHousing Association of U.S.
> *** <>*
> (Board member)*
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.