Re: Renting to Outside Groups and Fees for common space usage
From: Allison Tom (
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:08:00 -0700 (PDT)
I am really appreciating all of the responses pouring in at this point
about philosophies of charging and not charging for using common spaces.

It has become obvious to me that I succeeded far too well in phrasing my
questions to hide my bias!  I am deeply against the charges some in my
community are in favour of. I'm dismayed by the idea of charging to use
common spaces after we've spent years saying "you don't need as much
private space because you will have this lovely common space to use."  The
PS "we're going to charge you for it" feels awful to me - like unfair
regressive taxation and like a profound bait & switch.  I'm also dismayed
by the likelihood that we will have a high degree of unused common spaces.

So thank you to everyone who is so emphatically telling me the problems
with charging for common space use!


On Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 12:00 PM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> 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
> citizen’s.
> 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 supporting?
> 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 adopted.
> In other words, start at the other end. What is the CH?
> Sharon
> ———
> Sharon Villines
> sustainablecohousing [at]
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> sustainablecohousing+subscribe [at]
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