Re: Policy Committee & Condo law and Cohousing?
From: Alan O'Hashi (
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2019 04:41:47 -0700 (PDT)
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.


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!

Alan O'Hashi - ECOS
EnviroCultural Organization Systems
Colorado 303-910-5782
Wyoming 307-274-1910
Nebraska 402-327-1652

    On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, 04:27:38 AM MDT, cohousing-l-request [at] <cohousing-l-request [at]> wrote:  
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Today's Topics:

  1. Re: Policy Committee & Condo law and Cohousing? (Bob Leigh)


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:50:06 -0400
From: Bob Leigh <bobleigh [at]>
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Policy Committee & Condo law and Cohousing?
    <CAKbQ-o4Sa1oYhNSdgnKE+N_9ofwgte4tEcrcFSJrHMPp+0=ofA [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"

Phil Dowds wrote:

>> 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,

More specifically, a unit owner is investigating reverse mortgages, and her
mortgage broker advised her that, for most reverse mortgages, the community
must be FHA-approved.  A company named FHA Review, Inc. advised her that
the FHA would not accept our condo documents due to the presence of a right
of first refusal and due to a statement that the Managing Board must
approve rentals.

That's not quite the same as having difficulty with the FHA itself -- but
that's probably a minor point.

Bob Leigh
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA, USA

On Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 3:39 PM R Philip Dowds via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> 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.
> Thanks,
> 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:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> _________________________________________________________________
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