Unlike a typical condominium homeowner's association, residents in Sonora Cohousing manage their own community, making decisions of common concern at regular community meetings. Decisions are made together as a community, usually using a consensus model. Consensus is a process in which decisions are made by the collaboration and consent of every member of the group. This does not necessarily mean unanimity, and in fact, total agreement is rare. The decision must be acceptable enough, however, that everyone can live with it. Consensus empowers all members of the group and requires them to be active participants in the decision-making process. Participation is a foundation of community governance. Participation in the maintenance, decisions, and social life cannot be enforced but is an expected part of the community experience at Sonora Cohousing.
Changes to the Outsides of our Homes:
The Architectural Review Team (ART) coordinates a process homeowners to go through when planning exterior projects that could impact the rest of the community. This is an internal working policy that is used in place of the formal Architectural Review Committee that is established in the CC&R's for Sonora Cohousing. The process involves the homeowner posting a description of the project on the bulletin board and on email 10 days before planning to start the project, and then meeting to discuss concerns.
- ART Review Policy*
Our Non-Human Neighbors:
The thrust of our pet agreement is that pet behavior should not be a nuisance to anyone in the community. This includes dog barking, free roaming animals if they bother people or their property, dog owners' responsibility to pick up excrement, etc. A dog park is provided on site to allow dogs to be off leash. No pets are allowed in the Common House or pool area with the exception of service dogs.
- Pet Policy*
Homeowners Association Dues are due on the first of the month. The dues are keyed to the type of unit you own, and include funds for use of the community's fiberoptic network. Water bills (for inside water only) are posted about every 6 months. The cost of water coming out of outdoor spigots is included in your monthly HOA dues. All payments are given to the community's volunteer Treasurer. There is a Finance Committee that oversees the financial affairs of the community.
Keeping it humm'in:
Our agreement on work contributions to the community require each adult join and participate on at least one work team (responsible for maintenance and community activities). Committees differentiate from teams in that they are generally involved with overall community governance and function. There are also temporary task forces which have a short term mandate to carry out some task. There is currently no requirement to participate on Committees and Task Forces, although as a self-governing and participatory community, involvement is encouraged. Many tasks are also completed simply by individuals working on their own, such as the nightly lock up of the common house. The Work Participation Team monitors and manages the functioning of teams, committees, and task forces (collectively referred to as "Groups").
Renting a Home at Sonora Cohousing:
The community as a whole does not control renting per se, although the same rights/responsibilities of owners generally apply to renters as well. Renters are welcomed and encouraged to be fully engaged in the life and operation of the community.
Sonora has many community gatherings, some formally organized and others ad hoc. One of the most rewarding organized gatherings is the 2 to 3 scheduled common meals each week in the dining room. A crew of cooks and cleaners sign up for each meal. Currently, for every 4 meals a person eats, they are required to sign up for 1 work shift.
Charting Our Process:
Our Process Manual defines a range of topics about how the community operates, including decision-making, functioning of meetings, committees, record-keeping, among other things.
- Process Manual*
Depending on the nature of the issue, decisions are decided in various ways. Major community decisions are made using the consensus decision making process at General Meetings that involve the entire community. These meetings normally occur twice a month, and alternate between business-focused topics and community life-focused topics. Other decisions are delegated to the various teams, committees, work groups, or individuals. An alternate decision making procedure for minor matters, called a "Decision Board".
In addition to old fashion face-to-face communication, the community communicates electronically via a number of e-mail lists and a private website. This website includes many features, such as calendars (for events, meals, team activities, etc.), e-mail archives, meeting minutes, decision logs, documents, lost and found items, contact lists, and more. The community has a fiberoptic system that runs from the common house to and through each home. We buy internet service in bulk, so you don't need to pay for an external Internet Service Provider (ISP). This service is included in monthly HOA dues. Several bulletin boards are located at the common house for posting community news, business and other topics of interest.
Each home is assigned one permanent covered parking space (carport). Additional spaces are available as well, although not guaranteed permanently. A community member coordinates assignment of spaces.
We have a guest room in the common house that is available for $5 per night. To use this room it is required that a community member sponsor you.
- Guest Room Policy*
Bylaws and CC&Rs
Our legal bylaws & CC&Rs applicable to the community may be found here.
* Available by request: firstname.lastname@example.org