The organization of urban common-property institutions: The case of apartment communities in Seoul
Traditional property arrangements in urban residential settings dichotomize property into private and public domains. This dissertation examines a new type of urban property, organized to maintain an urban commons, composed partly of property that is traditionally private and partly of property that is traditionally public. In the U.S., this type of property includes both condominiums and homeowners' associations, often considered together as "residential community associations" (RCAs). Apartment communities as organized in Seoul, Korea, are RCAs that include both individually-owned apartment units as private property and the apartment buildings and grounds that are commonly owned by apartment owners. Moreover, the grounds are extensive and may include infrastructure normally held as public property, such as streets and sidewalks, in addition to parks, playgrounds, gardens, and parking lots.
The main focus of this study is on the way in which apartment communities in Seoul address the characteristic collective-action problems related to organizing a commons, such as pastures, groundwater supplies, or irrigation works. Six apartment communities were selected from the same district of Seoul, evenly grouped by particular physical and institutional variables, and studied in depth.
The collective-action problems that arise in apartment communities are those typical of common-property institutions: access control, use regulation, and maintenance. Each problem is related to a different physical attribute of the apartment commons. Apartment communities not only formulate and enforce operational rules, but also raise revenue through mandatory fees and are largely self-governing.
The apartment commons, although used also by outsiders, is commonly owned by apartment owners and primarily used and cared for by apartment dwellers within the community boundaries. All six communities studied possess the necessary characteristics to be considered effective common-property institutions. They successfully cope with the collective-action problems characteristic of the commons, organizing and maintaining the apartment commons as common-property.
Area planning & development
0615: Political science
0999: Urban planning
0999: Area planning & development