Re: Design review
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 9 Jun 2013 10:26:14 -0700 (PDT)
On Jun 9, 2013, at 12:57 PM, Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]> wrote:

> O dear.  I find myself in the rare position of disagreeing w/ my neighbor, 
> Sharon.

I don't disagree with anything Ann said. But there are many instances of which 
she may not be aware where people have just gone ahead, sometimes without 
knowledge and sometimes with full knowledge that they were making changes to 
areas that should have been reviewed. But they didn't endanger anyone, so so 

In every community there will be people who feel that way. So what?

And as she says, the architectural review process can be helpful to people, 
particularly when the person may not understand the construction. One person 
thought she couldn't make a third bedroom in her unit because it was  two story 
unit and there were too many supporting walls. IN fact there are no supporting 
walls inside units.

Our architectural review team is the same as the facilities team so they meet 
regularly and review anything submitted to them. But they don't "investigate" 
what is going on or remind people of what they can do or not do without review. 
That team has a good number of new people who were not here during design or 
construction so have very limited knowledge of the building, and in some 
instances understanding of the complexities of owning a condominium instead of 
a freestanding house.

Construction permits, for example, is one area a team can be very helpful. One 
homeowner may only get one permit in a lifetime, but the members of the 
community may get many. The team can collect and share helpful tips.

>  TVC is pretty "tidy" compared to some cohousing communities I've visited ... 
> except for all that "stuff" stored on people's porches outside their homes.  
> Now, that IS an example of a completely failed part of our community to 
> enforce keeping the exterior walkways and porches clear.  One day the Fire 
> Marshall is going to visit ...

This is an area of architectural review to consider as well. Are the spaces 
being used as specified during design? Write down intentions as agreements. We 
have indentations on the upper corridors that were intended to be used for a 
small table and chairs so people could sit outside their units. Instead they 
are used like garages or back porches. Unsightly and stuff extends into the 
corridors -- or people put their chairs in the corridors. Not what was intended 
or expected or foreseen. It's unsightly and fire hazard.

Of course things do not have to remain the same but clear agreements updated 
will make for smoother living together.

We have a process that can be used to change agreements without having to write 
new policies or have huge discussions. The request or change can be posted to 
the internal email list asking for objections. If there are none an agreement 
is made. This isn't used as often as it could be, however.

Thanks to Ann for fleshing this out,
Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"Behavior is determined by the prevailing form of decision making." Gerard 

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