Re: Renting to Outside Groups and Fees for common space usage
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:00:09 -0700 (PDT)
I just finished a book on environmental accounting called “Green Markets”. It’s 
a 1993 book, surprisingly that discusses how we regulate and measure costs 
promotes environmental pollution. How corporations and other polluters avoid 
responsibility — legally. 

Our regulations are backwards. When we set requirements for and “approve” their 
processes and technology, the responsibility transfers to city inspectors and 
regulators. If we set a standard for clean water and fine companies when that 
level is exceeded, it puts the burden on the polluters to figure out how to 
correct their processes so they are not polluting the water. 

Social value is in a clean environment, just working conditions, etc. 
Responsibility for supporting those values is the company’s as much as the 

We set city expenses and charge taxes sometimes based on the costs of goods and 
services, and sometimes just because we can. But either way we don’t charge for 
"using up" the environment. Goods and services are measurable — the environment 
isn’t assigned a measurable cost. When is it no longer enjoyable or health 

The same is true of the CH. It’s an environment that provides context for 
community living. If it is degraded or misused or unavailable, the community 
loses context. 

When you begin charging for things, they change value. The space becomes a 
commodity. To regulate it,  there are rules — what has to be done before and 
after an event. Definitions of inside groups and outside groups.  Where is the 
line between a gathering of friends and a meeting of the Bird Club. And someone 
has to enforce them or they are hypocritical.

Renting also brings up liability — you are immediately responsible for meeting 
the city standards for meeting places. That changes the role of members, or 
some members from residents to supervisors of other people.

I think this suggests thinking about the way you want people to feel about the 
CH before you think about how much to charge. What is the advantage of 
charging? If it is considered a way to pay for the CH, then you will need to 
rent frequently. Motels earn money from renting space and they work very hard 
to keep their spaces rented. It changes the focus of the community. Renting the 
CH becomes a purpose. 

Some communities have done this at least temporarily to pay for their CHs. This 
is a form of financing and it can be measured with a clear purpose. It has a 
beginning and ending point. When that purpose is fulfilled, then another can be 

In other words, start at the other end. What is the CH?

Sharon Villines
sustainablecohousing [at]
To subscribe:
sustainablecohousing+subscribe [at]

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.