Re: Experience with allowing Home Based Businesses with Clients       reply
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2016 04:00:30 -0800 (PST)
Even in single family zoning districts that prohibit them, home businesses with
client visits are more common than you think.  They try to operate under the
radar.  And that is the point:  If a home business is creating little in the
way of nuisance or risk … why not?  Coho world is different of course:  More
intimate relations with your neighbors and their activities, different
expectations for visitors, privacy and security.  So there are some interesting
possible Why Nots:
     (1) Access?  Is the business within an “apartment” style building, where
access is through the commons, and common corridors?
     (2) Scale?  What if everybody does it, or what if a business expands to
include a paid assistant and 45 visits a week?  And …
     (3) AirBnB?  The last time this came up, the trend of discussion was that
AirBnB created some unique challenges that needed more management … and
prohibiting AirBnB seemed appropriate to many.

Over the years, the view I’ve come to is … A cohousing community should do
every plausible thing it can to accommodate, or support, all the needs and
interests of all its members — without, of course, over-compromising the needs
of others or community character.  So long as client visits do not seem likely
to create risk, noise, parking problems, etc, then approach the request with
optimism, and don’t work too hard to anticipate and solve hypothetical problems
that aren’t happening.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

> On Feb 23, 2016, at 9:20 PM, Kathy Icenogle <kathy.icenogle [at]>
> wrote:
> Our community (Washington Village) is currently debating whether to
> allow one of our members to run an acupuncture business in her second
> bedroom... the issue is that her business involves client's (approx 20
> per week, one at a time - so not really a traffic problem).
> Some of our residents have a concern that this will impact their sense
> of privacy and/or property value (e.g. if we lose our "residential
> feel").  Others are saying "There's a good reason HOAs don't allow
> businesses." ... and concerns about setting precedents ("if we grant
> one waiver, we'll have to grant too many waivers or we'llb e sued)
> I'm trying to argue that we are not a regular HOA... in theory, our
> members value their relationship with each other and the community...
> and the Member/Business Oowner impacted by this policy is very
> reasonable.
> If your community allows home-based businesses, have there been any
> problems?... if so, what advice would you offer on how to avoid such
> problems.
> If your community had a negative experience with home businesses that
> serve clients, I would like to hear about that... were you able to
> reverse your policy/agreement on that?
> Do you think the community context causes home businesses to be more
> reasonable in one context (e.g. rural) vs. another (e.g. urban.)  Our
> community is located in a relatively dense urban location. So
> parking/traffic and privacy interests are reasonable concerns. We do
> have plans to have two commercial units in the community. Zoning
> restricts the type of businesses that are possible to non-retail... we
> have no customer parking, other than what is available on the street.
> Thank you for any and all advice on this matter,
> Kathy Icenogle
> Washington Village, Boulder, CO
> PS - I did my best to look through the message archives on this... but
> it seems like the question still bears some discussion.
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