What is the structure of a Community Land Trust?

A CLT is a democratically run not-for-profit organization created for the purpose of managing it’s land. The membership is open to community residents, who, typically, elect a board of trustees (although the residents can exercise direct democracy instead of electing a board).

Board composition can be designed as the community wishes, however, it is typically organized in tripartite fashion:

  • Residents or tenants of the land.
  • Individual members of the community.
  • Public interest representatives or community stakeholders. This can mean members of social justice organizations or community institutions, such as local churches, businesses, agencies or governments.

Board members service limited terms in order to ensure wide-spread participation, avoid entrenched individual self-interest and to ensure the community retains control over the land trust under it’s own terms. In order to ensure demographic representation, CLTs are free to reserve seats for women, specific ethnic groups or other under represented groups.

Decisions about land use is determined by a process comparable to public planning and zoning, except the process is run and decisions are made by the CLT members and board, rather than politicians and lobbyists.


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