Re: Policy Committee & Condo law and Cohousing?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2019 08:09:40 -0700 (PDT)
Yes, it can be complex.

Let’s say that the “voting” (if and when it happens) is not by percent 
interest, but is unitary: One dwelling unit equals one vote.  Whether that unit 
is owned by one resident, or by a mix of residents and non-residents, the vote 
is unitary indivisible, and multiple owning individuals must decide among 
themselves how to cast the unitary vote.  In percent interest, units deploy 
weighted (unequal) votes, but in most docs, these votes are unitary 
      But you raise a different issue.  A small unit might have ten owners: One 
being resident, and nine others being absentee.  Set voting aside, nobody ever 
wants to vote.  We’re in consensus, where the objection of any member might 
impact the decision outcome.  So:  Are all ten owners — one resident, and nine 
absentee — “members” in good standing of your community?  Are they all 
empowered to object as distinct individuals?  Could they all have distinctly 
different objections?
      At Cornerstone, we’ve struggled with this a long time without coming to a 
definitive conclusion.  But it’s important to note that the problem may be more 
theoretical than real.  In eighteen years, we’ve never had an absentee, partial 
owner show up out of the blue and re-direct the consensus decision.

Your other issue ties back to the basic challenges of delegation and 
communication.  How much power does planary want to delegate to committees?  
Here, enabling legislation may have a say.  The promulgation of a new “rule” 
(“policy”) about pets is usually in the domain of plenary, or maybe Board; a 
team of self-appointed volunteers is not normally empowered to write and 
enforce rules binding on everyone.  But in my experience, it’s totally OK to 
delegate a budget to a team or circle or committee, and allow it to make 
spending decisions.  The question is: How much does Board or plenary trust the 
team to exercise good judgment?  And operate with transparency?
     At Cornerstone, we have a bunch of requirements or traditions about 
committee open meetings having proper notice, agendas and minutes — so it’s not 
likely a rogue committee would get very far spending a controversial $10K.  And 
often a combination of committee charter and finely tuned budget line items 
places considerable constraints on what committees can do with money, and by 
discretion.  For instance, we never have a one-person committee.  Committee 
meetings, and their decisions, are legitimate only when attended by 
representatives of at least three different households.


> On Jul 16, 2019, at 10:21 AM, Kathleen Walsh <kathleen [at]> 
> wrote:
> One issue I have become aware of is the link between the legal definition
> of condo "owner" and the potential risk of uncoupling voting from this
> definition.  In Oregon, the relevant statutes do not define condo ownership
> in terms of any percentage of deed holding.   The statutes just indicate
> that only one vote can be made by the owner, or owners, of any single
> unit.  So, someone who legally owns 1% of a unit has the same legal right
> to participate in decision-making as someone who owns 100% of a unit in
> process based on "consensus" verses voting, whether or not they live on the
> property.  Potentially, this sets up situations in which HOA members who
> face minimal financial risk are deciding how to spend the monies members
> who face substantial risk are legally forced to pay as dues and property
> taxes.
> At Columbia Ecovillage we use a version of sociocracy in which small team
> members can make decisions that impact members not on their circle, such as
> the Reserve Study team.  Several years ago our Reserve Study team was
> populated by a single person who owns .5% of a rental unit.  This person
> added a large amount of money to the study (over $10,000), indicating that
> this was an operational decision governed by members of the team, which is
> why she did not inform the members of the next level circle of her
> actions.  The HOA, in turn, did not inform all owners because they were not
> aware of the action.
> This is a complex issue that will require considerable thought in order to
> protect the financial stability of individual owners who have fully
> invested in their units and the HOA itself.
> Kathleen Walsh
> On Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 4:50 AM Alan O'Hashi via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
>> Annie, Phil, et al. - At my place we're updating our declarations and
>> bylaws by cohousing-izing them, but compliant with state HOA laws. In a
>> nutshell, we have a governing board as required by law called the steering
>> team (ST). We have basically emasculated the ST into a body that
>> coordinates and implements the actions of the community at large.
>> The ST consists of a representative of the standing operational teams that
>> deal with the common house, parties, gardens, buildings, finances who each
>> are approved by the community. Action items originate from the community
>> that directs the ST to figure out the details and bring back the final
>> products for three readings. The community approves the actions and the ST
>> reaffirms community decisions. Nothing comes from the ST to the community
>> without first originating in a standing team or from the community at large.
>> The Colorado state law - as does all the other states - talks a lot about
>> voting and majorities and super majorities, etc. We took out all references
>> to voting and changed those to decisions and make reference to our decision
>> making community agreements, which are around consensus.
>> There are MANY subtleties around insurance, disclosures, conflicts of
>> interest, how dues are determined, the super majorities and other esoteria,
>> that I won't go into here. We've spent quite a bit of time - two years -
>> and money - thousands - going through this with an HOA lawyer who also is
>> comfortable with our work. This isn't typical intellectual property and as
>> such, we're trying to figure out how to let others have access to the
>> documents.
>> Thx,
>> Alan O
>> PS - if all HOAs operated like a cohousing HOA, there would be no need for
>> all the state requirements around how to get rid of deadbeat HOA board
>> members and their criminal behaviors!
>> PS2 - to Fred, I resent this because the first time, I forgot to delete
>> the thread 'tail.'
>> *******************************************
>> Alan O'Hashi - ECOS
>> EnviroCultural Organization Systems
>> Colorado 303-910-5782
>> Wyoming 307-274-1910
>> Nebraska 402-327-1652
>> *******************************************
>> _________________________________________________________________
>> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.