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April 14, 2013

Facilitator: Donny
Minutes-taker: Mike

Present: Hillary, Jesse, Ryan, Sarah, Nolan, McAllen, Donny, Hannah, Victor, Greg, Mike, Gatlin, Travis, Leslie Jess, Beth, Marshall, John, Elaine, William, Claude, Don,

Hannah: At other houses, we would go around, get your name,, ask if have pets, make sure we have contact info, pets.

Donny: That is all we need to know for the first meeting, but you might have questions, so stick around if you're interested. Traditionally, at Sasona, we did officer reports first.

Jess and Beth have a cat, would like a whole unit

John would like a whole unit

William would like a room

Officer reports


Donny: Lots to do. Working on it. Victor and Greg helping me out, and HIllary. Don't know if they're fixing things faster than they're breaking, but they're fixing things. AC unit in 204 is gone. Looking like our best option is to replace it. Everything is ancient and broken. They're switching to new refridgerants, so it's expensive to refill old ones. As more people join the coop, we'll have more people to put on stuff. We've beaten back bed bugs and roaches, fixed 2-3 AC units, replaced thermostats, fixed sinks, toilets, a lot of things.

Marshall: Still have roaches in 110.

Donny: Roach guys will be back out on Monday but will be on the other side.

Community Outreach

McAllen: Going to pass out a survey for everyone to tell me what kinds of events they want to see put together at the coop.

Ryan: We have a labor bounty to put up a chalkboard in the common room window, so people can look by and look up notices, so we don't have to post notes on everybody's door.

McALlen: Would like to find a way for everyone to give me their input.


Ryan: Took a while to sort out HACA payments. We finally got it a few days ago. I was able to tell who did and did not pay their rents; I didn't know who owed how much before that. Doing pretty good on rent. Have a couple people who have not paid. They've been notified. There's an issue of a tenant who came off unemployment; not clear who should pay their rent. We've deposited all the money; we have a well-padded bank account and bills to pay but don't have a card to pay bills with. If any of you have made purchases for the coop and have receipts, let me know, and I'll reimburse those payments. AC unit was quoted at $4-$5,000, which is a little more than half our major maintenance budget. I've talked to Daniel about this, got in touch with Brian and Allen for tips for finding financing. Will have more details in the future.

Gatlin: I believe you can use the routing number to pay online.

Ryan: I don't have the payment information, so I can't enter it.

Gatlin: If people have given receipts to me, I'll hand them off to you.


Jesse: I'm in the data collection phase for the food cooperative. We have issues with how we'll roll that out. We can't include a requirement that it be part of the rent agreement. We're forced to come up with creative ideas. Putting together a budget / information about how many people on the ground want to participate. Will be distributing a survey. Probably will need to do a potluck since we don't have a dedicated kitchen. Going to ask what foods people like to eat, how often people want meals, whether you're interested in cooking.

Donny: Could we informally start a potluck club this week? Everyone could show up in 106 at a certain time, and see what happens.

Ryan: Matt Miller started a web site community group, a community potluck dining web site. Would be a good thing to get involved with.

Jesse: Sundays will sort of be a de facto date.

Hannah: Wednesdays, too?

7:00 in 106 on Wednesdays.


Hannah: We have eight folks on contract as coop members. We will have 13 next month. William, Victor, Mike, McAllen, Nolan, talk to me after the meeting, and we'll get you on contract. Don, Elaine, Claude, you all are under no obligation to go on contract, but you can also sign an addendum lease so you'll have a vote at meetings, be part of the food coop, etc. You'd need to come to one additional meeting. Would be $800/month. Talking to HACA a lot in the past few weeks. We have a tenant who is appealing an eviction that looks like it was just a big misunderstanding.

Electric panel replacement project (Greg):

Greg: Electric panels in all of our units are defective / a known fire hazard. We knew this when purchasing the property. Going to hire a contractor to replace all the panels. Going to have to shut off all the power to your unit and put in a brand new one. If they're doing it right, shouldn't take more than an hour or two in each unit. Hoping to have it finished within one week, but still need to get estimates. Would like to have it completed in the next two weeks, since it affects the AC unit in 204. If you know of an electrical contractor, let me know. I have one name; will be evaluating others in the next few days.

Donny: In terms of coordinating with 204, which should be done first?

Greg: Electric should be done first, then the AC replacement. If we have to, we'll have a contractor take care of that one first.

Decide rent without food program fees (Ryan)

Ryan: Rates we've been throwing around range from $800-850. $800, on a conservative guess, will give a surplus of $3,000. On a more liberal guess, will give a surplus of around $17,000 per year. I think it's safe to guess somewhere in the middle. Would be our profit, but there is no incentive to make that number as large as possible. Can help with capital improvements, expansions, padding for bad years. If you raise it to $850, it looks more like $7,000-$30,000. Me and Gatlin recommend $800. I think Daniel would like to see us have it a little higher.

Gatlin: Last year, Sasona made a profit of $6,000 with 22 members, two of those being associates. Even $3,000 is a number above zero. Also, food.

Donny: TO clarify, no actual profit made since it's a nonprofit. If we have a surplus, it's more budget for next year.

Hannah: It's also money we've been able to draw on for extras, like paying for the barbecue, more parties, extra furniture, helps make the place a little nicer.

McALlen: Better insulation on the roof

Mike: Sliding scale?

Greg: I think there's a lot of merit to what Mike says. The only potential hole is whether it meets the requirements for HACA and the IRS to be in the 501c3 or affordable housing. Need to make sure we satisfy that basic requirement.

Sarah: Every year, HUD will negotiate what a market rate would be for this place. Never going to get more from HACA than what they determine would be a market rent.

Hannah: ant to have rent as low as possible because it might be a hardship to raise it too much. Want to hear from what people here now think about paying $800 and having fewer improvements vs. paying more and having those things.

William: I don't want to see my neighbors driven out by the rent rates. Willing to pay more so that somebody else pays less.

Victor: I think what Mike is proposing is exactly what the housing authorities want to see. They want to see a certain number of units are affordable housing.

Gatlin: To maintain 501c3 status, there are standards set by HUD. As of November, 2011, low-income is defines as making less than about $42,000. Very low income is making less than $27,000. Some percentage (>60, <75) percent of units need to be affordable.

Sarah: People who are on social security are typically at 15-20%.

Gatlin: Sasona qualifies. I wouldn't focus on the 501C3 status.

Gatlin moves to set rates at $800 for a unit or $400 for a room, with the caviat that you are not responsible for a vacancy of a room in your unit.

McAllen: Could we adopt a sliding scale instead?

Ryan: I wouldn't feel comfortable without looking at data. Need to look at income reports. Wouldn't be comfortable adopting immediately but will do research.

Gatlin: Will not accept the amendment. Will propose it after doing research.

Victor: Seconds. Wants to sign a contract today.

Motion passes, 11-0.

Discuss less rent // more labor arrangement with Luke in 204

Donny: We need more hours particularly on maintenance. Some people have complained that we're raising the rent, and they might have time but not have the money. We could approve a certain number of hours that people could work to lower their rent for a particular month. The shortfall in budget would be taken from the maintenance fund.

Gatlin: I like this idea. At Sasona, you're fined for missing labor, but, at CH, it's fully communitive, so, if you do extra labor, you're paid. I'd support giving a rebate if you do extra labor and it's verified.

Victor: Particularly for Luke, it's a good idea. He's a licensed electrician. Could do a legal disconnect in his own room. There are electrical issues in the laundry room that need to be fixed.

Donny: I want to limit the number of hours we could do in a given month. We need the actual cash.

Marshall: Do you have to be a member in order to do that?

Gatlin: Right now, you have to be a member.

Donny: Right now, Luke is not a member.

Gatlin: Would be a modification of the contract. I don't know if we can do this. Would like to look into that for next week's meeting.

Sarah: I like the idea of the rent rebate. We're not in the business of saying that these particular people can receive a reduction. I'd like to see it available to everyone. Agree with capping it.

Gatlin: That's CH's mistake.

Greg: This is open-ended. Also looking at this as a short-term fix for a short-term need. We need to clearly communicate that someone should not base their decision of whether they can afford to be here on this.

Donny: When the whole complex is co-opers, we may not have this labor deficit. I hadn't considered that it may be a modification of the contract. May have some legalities.

Gatlin: You mean the maintenance deficit is short-term, or in general?

Greg: Either or. If we're offering this, need to be clear about what we're offering. Not unlimited. Also, are we in compliance with labor laws? Are we hiring employees? Do we need to give W-2's, unemployment insurance? I want to be careful.

Gatlin: I could ask CH. They should know if it's illegal.

Ryan: Could do it without modifying the lease. Could just cut them a check. Are they employees?

Donny: Should this apply to non-coopers?

Hannah: I don't think so. We want to work with people who want to be here long-term.

Jesse: He's stated that he wanted to move in long-term, correct?

Hannah: He has, but hasn't been to a meeting yet. Was at the potluck, but we're not counting that as a meeting.

labor expectations and accountability (Hannah):

Hannah: I think we're off to a great start. Wanted to get everyone together to talk about what our expectations are. Informally we've been saying 2 hours/week. Want a way to hold people to that. Want to ensure everyone is doing 2 hours/week at least, to make sure no one is in danger of burn-out.

Gatlin: I've been uncharacteristically loosy-goosy about it because I personally know that everyone moved in has done way more than two hours. Also, keeping the tradition at Sasona where the first week you move in is a freeby. Not worried about everyone doing enough because there are only 6-7 of us here to begin with, but glad you put it on the agenda because it won't be this way for too much longer. A few meetings ago, we decided to offer Sasona's officer descriptions. Leaves discression of labor to the labor czar. I'm willing to change that; seems kind of silly. Anything we decide tonight should overrule that / be considered a constraint. I figured it would be easy to say “two hours” and ask if you've done it if I don't have direct evidence of your handiwork. Right now we have a bounty system. If you're on the mailing list, then you're accountable for labor. If you're not, you're not. What kinds of permanent labor do we need? This is how it is currently working. It's a stop-gap. Hope I haven't presented it as anything else.

Hannah: Would like a way to prioritize some things. I think we should prioritize making the common spaces habitable. There are some things that really should get priority right now. Maybe throwing out recurrent labor tasks would be a good use of our time.

Molly: I like the idea of keeping the bounty system going on the listserv but writing PRIORITY on important tasks. Maybe putting a deadline on those. People might have a better sense of what needs to be done earlier.

Gatlin: I'm experimenting with this, too. I think that, if people think something is a priority, then they'll do it, but I like the idea of the person assigning it to be able to assign it a priority. Also, I'd like to create a commons bulletin board system in the next week.

Hannah: There's an unclaimed bulletin board at Sasona right now.

Nolan: Want to be sensitive to not everybody having email, but, when something is on a bulletin board, becomes inaccessible to me. I tend to find out about stuff a lot later if it's on a board. We can be creative / come up with some kind of shared system beyond the inaccessible bulletin board.

Gatlin: I see it as my job to bridge that gap. Can make sure it is sent over email.

Nolan: I found out weeks later that I'd been double no-showed for things. Nobody told me about it, and they wouldn't dismiss the further no-shows.

Mike: Also might help people who aren't around for a day or so, in addition to helping me and Nolan

Action: Gatlin will get the bulletin board from Sasona

Gas shut-off valve replacement project (Greg)

Greg: Had a gas stove that would not shut off in 210 at about 11:00 last Sunday night. Tenant called DOnny. Donny discovered that he couldn't shut off the gas. Between the stove and the pipe, there's a cut-off valve. Donny actuated the valves, but it didn't stop the flow of the gas. It's common for older valves, that they just won't work. Fortunately, the stove is electric. When an electric stove doesn't have electricity to it, it shuts off the gas. If the same things happened with one of our pilot stoves, the gas-en would have to shut off the gas to the whole complex. Would be very expensive to fix. For a crew of plumbers to take care of this for the one unit, would cost us $450. Part of turning the gas back on requires a pressure test system. An inspector comes out, sets the pressure to some pressure level, the inspector has to come back within 24 hours to ensure that the pressure level is held, that there are no leaks. Takes time and money. If that failed to fix that one valve, would cost all that much more to get leaks fixed. We don't think we have any leaks, but we have that risk. We can either spend $450 to fix one now, and that means CYnthia would be out, and she's okay with this; she has a microwave and s slow-cooker, so she can't use her stove, because it's a non-emergency, it takes 8-10 business days to pull a permit from the city to be able to start this process, but, rather than spend the money to replace one valve, as I looked at the cost, we could replace all the valves for about $1,000 if we do all the work ourselves. We've looked at the timing and what kind of labor would be required. If we shut off the gas on Friday, work on it through the weekend, do the pressure test ourselves, and have the plumbers come back on Monday. Will be without hot water for 3-4 days. A significant hardship for people. It's possible for us to rent a portable shower. If we were to ask plumbers to do the same thing, would cost $3-4,000 to replace the approximately 40 valves in the complex. My proposal is that we shut down the gas on some Friday in the future, legally and safely by whatever requirements the city has in place, that we, the maintenance team with extra support, would go and replace the cut-off valves in all of the apartments, ad we have a procedure in place where we would empty the gas lines of all the existing valves, make sure we have excellent exhaust, make sure that no gas builds up in the apartment. We think we can do it safely, much more quickly and cheaply if we do it ourselves. We don't know when the next one will fail, but, if we replace one at a time, it will cost about $450 and take two weeks each time. We're not sure the next time if it'll be someone who has an electric stove. I recommend this.

Ryan: When, and how many will we need?

Greg: About two weeks from now. I'd like to have 4 people inside the apartment working on the two valves. We have one valve for the furnace and one for the stove. Some have been replaced with more modern valves. But a lot of the valves on the stoves are the ancient 40-50-year-old ones. We'd want to do this all at the same time so that we learn what's happening. Two people on the kitchen, 2 on the furnace, one person to flow between them, one person to manage the next apartment (getting the windows open and the exhaust flowing). Need 6-7 people. Would probably take the whole day on Saturday. Would be dated based on when we get a permit (beginning of next month probably).

Donny: I appreciate the thought you've put into this. We're looking at $450 * 10-20 units if we let plumbers do this. To me, this is something we should address because it was scary to be there with that stove. It was like 500 degrees. I turned the cut-off valve and nothing happened. That's a real safety issue. Apparently it's really expected for ancient valves. I support Greg in this. It's scary dealing with natural gas, but you cut it off and get the windows open. We can initially drain it from the pipes. ant to talk it through but am in support of it.

Jesse: Can we do an inventory to determine how many we need to replace?

Greg: We have a survey; HIllary and I will be taking care of that. We also need to know what size so we can purchase them to have them on hand.

Molly: Are we going to have it timed appropriately so we can know when to have pets out of the apartment?

Greg: Will be announced well in advance. Driven by the city permit.

Passes 11-0.

Parking (Greg):

Greg: We have 40 parking spaces. Twice the number of units in the complex. We don't have a parking problem now, and I don't think we need to worry about one, but thinking about a way to make sure that people who park here are supposed to park here. There's a car that was jacked up here for a while. Maybe we should write down our make/model/license plate, so, if at some point in the future, we can check.

Jesse: Would love to know how many slots we're required to have so that we can potentially think about using some of that space to grow vegetables. I've seen techniques that we don't have to tear up the concrete. Not an ideal, but there's that process.

McAllen: Grow vegetables or something else. Food for thought.

Sarah: Will join any vegetable-growing group you create.

Donny: I agree that we should know what cars should be here. I don't consider it a real priority, but we should eventually get a registry, but people are allowed visitors. We all know the story of the towing company. Everybody was terrified that they were going to get towed every other day. We don't want that, but we'd like to know that we can come and get a car towed.

??: They would come and intimidate you. I paid them $200 because I parked on the line.

Gatlin: Other coops have a towing company who does not come around automatically. There are one or two specific people who can make that call. Can have a car towed, but people are not under threat of being towed for forgetting to put a sticker on. I don't like paying people to steal my car.

Sarah: I lived at a WC coop, and we had limited parking at the house. There was resident parking and 2-3 slots for visitors. Might be a good idea here, to have resident parking, and we could monitor the visitor parking.

Motion to amend membership requirements (Gatlin):

Gatlin: I don't think two meetings are necessary. If someone has been actively involved but hasn't made a meeting, they could be voted in right then. If anyone requires a vote whatsoever, then it can be punted to the next meeting. Two meetings seems arbitrary. I'd like to make it easy for people to get in and easy for people who currently are in to voice their concerns.

Hannah: I'm not sure that asking for two meetings is so difficult. I'm not automatically nixing this idea, but, it seems that, if you're going to be invested in a community, then showing up twice beforehand, and we do say that we'll work with you about date and time if Sunday evenings doesn't work, that doesn't seem like a very big commitment/hardship to me. If we're expecting people to be committed and good members that are willing to show up and do stuff, then two meetings doesn't seem like a lot to ask.

Gatlin: I agree that it's not a hardship, but it's hard to make a certain time/date. I haven't seen anything that we voted on allowing anything other than the meetings. It would be great to add that. That would be fine, too. There are circumstances where people are very involved and can't make Sundays. I'd happily accept a friendly amendment where the membership coordinator can negotiate.

Hannah: Isn't stated formally, but I've stated that to people.

Gatlin: I'd like it to be formalized. I'd like there not to be favoritism. If one person can have leniency and one doesn't, to me, that's the only acceptable reason to have a rule, to avoid favoritism and disenfranchisement. I'm uncomfortable changing things we voted on just because it's informal.

Ryan: I think a rule allowing people to vote on whether another person needs to come creates opportunities for people to game it to give their friends priority. Happened at student coops.

Gatlin: You make a great point. I'd like it to be easier for people who can't make Sundays to have alternatives. You make a great point that it increases the odds of favoritism, so I'm nixing it. I'd like to formalize the ability of the membership coordinator to do this.

Gatlin taking it off the table and putting it on the next agenda.

Hannah: I will continue to vigilantly offer the alternative of proposing another meeting time. We've done that at Sasona. It is acceptable there.

Jesse: We could also use the potluck on Wednesday.

Hannah: Pearl St had meetings on Wed and Sun. Was wonderful for people who had different schedules.

Molly: One meeting focused on membership/officer concerns and one on labor concerns.

Sarah: Maybe say “meeting from 6-8” instead of “meeting at 6.” Set a time limit so that people know how much time they're allocating to the meeting. Meetings that go longer than two hours tend to be less effective in terms of attention span.

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