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May 19, 2013

Facilitator: Donny
Minutes-taker: Mike

Present: Z, Donny, Gatlin, Hannah, Hillary, Jeremy, Jessica, Meghan, Mike, Molly, Paul, Ryan, Ryan, Victor, William


Jessica: I live at Sasona; was at Sasona when LR was getting going. Didn't want to move but here to share support

Ryan: Here because I'm looking to get into a place like this

Ryan has no pets. Either a single room or full unit would be fine.

Z: I know some of you from Occupy. Really interested in the idea of cooperative ownership. I think what you guys are doing is really awesome.

Jeremy: I'm friends with Hannah from long ago. Lived at Pearl Street. Interested in moving into a coop eventually.

Z accepted for membership

Officer reports


Gatlin: Got reports back. Heard something from everyone. Everyone gave me great feedback. Today labor spontaneously organized itself. Plan on having office hours Wednesday at 7pm. If something's wrong, I want people to tell me so I can fix it.

William: What's a labor holiday?

Gatlin: For long projects that can't get done normally.


Hannah: Signed a contract with jess and Beth for 203. McAllen and Mike moving into 204, so our vacancy has been filled. Discussion with other prospective members attracted by our ads and press checking out the building. Trying to decide how much we want to utilize our transitional space. Updated the membership contract. I hope we pass an associate program tonight.

Greg: Could we add an addendum page that specifies the room that we'll be in? Every time an addendum is added, that particular addendum overrides an addendum of the same type, so that, if people move, we'll be able to tell, and, if they go to the post office, it'll be in writing.

Hannah: This does make some sense. I haven't wanted to put the room on the lease because people change rooms and I don't want to sign a whole new lease when that happens. I think an addendum seems reasonable.

Sarah: Is the most current copy of the lease on the wiki?

Hannah: No. There are very few changes. I emailed out the most recent one; wanted to see if people have questions. Will post in the next day or two.


Donny: 204 has got a functional air conditioner. I'll be gone from next Wed through the following Monday. Victor knows the AC guy and can get him over here if necessary. A bit overwhelmed with being maintenance coordinator; have an agenda item. Greg and I had a quick meeting to talk about the panel replacement. They're ancient and fire hazards.

Greg: We think we have our contractor. He came in about $9,000 less than the other two. Gave a T&M (time and materials) number. Want a not-to-exceed number as well. We had prior knowledge with them. The other two I got from Angie's list; they are good but we don't have personal knowledge.

Donny: Glad Victor has moved in. He knows lots about maintenance, but don't bother him during the day because he's sleeping.

Victor: Emails are okay.


Ryan: Pretty much everybody paid the rent. I'll be depositing stuff tomorrow. I've got a bucket full of quarters in my bedroom.

Z: Who do you bank with?

Ryan: Velocity. Will ask about a savings account; have $2,000 sitting in a checking account. Also, Victor gave me the idea to set up direct deposit so that people can be billed automatically.

Donny: What happened with 203 and the eviction?

Ryan: Court date on the 24th. I'll go do that.

Hannah: This person is also moving out at the end of the month.

Ryan: It's kind of a weird one, but I needed to do it.

(Donny) Discuss ideas for constructing a sustainable Maintenance team

Donny: I've been overwhelmed the past couple months. Need to start putting time back into my work. To that end I want to restructure maintenance a bit. Some of that has been done. Greg and I have been co-maintainers. He has two projects on his plate. I'd like to have more people involved. Maybe anybody on maintenance could be empowered to meet contractor X, have a key, have an understanding of what needed to be done. We're getting to have enough people where we might be able to pull that off. I'd like to split up by expertise. Victor knows a lot about AC. Greg has delt with bug people so could be our bugzilla person. We could have a master plumber (maybe Hillary). You don't need to know everything; will start to build up expertise when meeting with the contracts. My goal is to make us experts in this building. It's an ancient building. There's a lot that's not up to code. We can spend lots of money bringing in contractors, or we can get expertise to fix things ourselves. I think it's more sustainable to do that. My thought was to have 2-3 experts.

Victor: I think you need to add paint and carpentry, not only for obvious things; we're going to need some serious plumbing done. While we couldn't do the plumbing, if we got enough people trained, we could do the drywall painting and greatly reduce the cost of replacing our hot water pipes. We need somebody to take over the idea of teaching people how, Home Depot and Lowe's have classes, learning to patch holes in the wall will save us a real fortune when it comes time to replace our hot water pipes.

Sarah: Would be nice to have somebody we can contract with who knows something about access issues. This isn't very accessible.

Mike: been vaguely starting to work on a house manual. Could be useful to record maintenance knowledge.

Victor: There are a lot of maintenance videos on Youtube. If we could get a library of those videos linked to that manual, we'd have a wonderful device to keep this going and empower the residence. When they go somewhere else, they'd be able to take care of things wherever else they live.

Donny: To make this maintainable when people move out and new people come, should be attached to the wiki.

Sarah: When people have maintenance labor, they could record what they're doing, so that they can compile that kind of data.

Donny: I see a need; don't know how to address right now. Need a big database of what we discover and do in each unit.

Hannah: Along side the areas of expertise, splitting of responsibilities, I wonder if it would be good for predictability's sake for people who have other jobs, if there were certain days on which you were the point person for. Contractors coming on Monday or Tuesday would be so-and-so's domain.

Hillary: Trying to do my best with helping on maintenance, but need to have hours to do the labor assigned to me. Trying to fit it in isn't really working. If we could have office hours the way other people do, and, during those office hours, could start putting together those lists, to get everyone together.

Donny: I've sensed the need to have maintenance meetings. Victor and you have interesting schedules. We should be able to find time we can overlap. That is much needed.

William: I could assist on specific days. Have Sunday and Monday off almost always.

(Hannah)Vote on proposal for definition of and policies for associate membership

Hannah: We talked about this some last week and on the listserv.

Greg: Would like to amend for the per-meal to be $4. 12*4 = 48; closer to the total for a month of food.

Hannah: Okay.

Hillary: Different price for veggie vs. meat?

Hannah: Probably not. If they're not paying for food, then you can bring a little bit.

Proposal passes 12-0.

Proposal for Associate Membership Program

Associate members must go through the standard membership acceptance process, and may be denied membership only for the reasons outlined as acceptable for denial of prospective resident members (known history of abusive behavior, past evictions, past nonpayment of rent, etc.) Unlike resident members, associate members may contract for membership on a month-to-month basis.

Associate members may not spend the night in common areas except under extenuating circumstances, such as sickness or inclement weather. They may not store items in common areas without approval of the house. Otherwise, associate members have the rights of resident members except where outlined below.

Associate members exist at two tiers.

Tier 1:

$25 a month, two hours of labor a week. These members have access to the courtyard, garden space, grounds, can run for coordinator positions, and are entitled to full participation at all meetings including a vote. They are welcome to Sunday potlucks but are not otherwise entitled to common grocery items or meals, unless they pay a donation of $4 per meal. Food and beverage contributions may also be accepted as a contribution in place of money. These members may have a commons key but must pay a deposit of $60 to receive one.

Initial costs include $50 nonrefundable membership fee unless previously paid, $25 deposit to be paid at time of contract signing (or $60 if they are to receive a commons key), and $25 before the beginning of their contract.

Tier 2:

$60 a month, two hours of labor a week. These members have access to the courtyard, garden space, grounds, can run for coordinator positions, and are entitled to full participation all meetings including a vote. They are entitled to all meals and a reasonable level of personal use of common grocery items. They can receive a commons key.

Initial costs include $50 nonrefundable membership fee unless previously paid, $60 refundable deposit to be paid at time of contract signing, and $60 before the beginning of their contract.

Members of Other CHEA Houses:

Members of other CHEA houses are welcome to come and eat twice a month and/or during all Sunday night potlucks. To have the rights of associate membership they may pay a discounted rate of $25 for full Tier 2 associate membership, or $10 for Tier 1. Understanding that members of other houses already have labor obligations, we only require one hour of labor a week from these associates.

Initial costs include a deposit equal to their monthly payment at time of contract signing, and a month’s dues before the start of their contract. If members of other houses want a key to the commons room they must still pay a deposit of $60 before receiving one.

Donny: Ruth, Jessica, Sarah are interested in being associates.

(Hannah)Do we want to continue to use common space as transitional housing for members wanting to live here permanently? Accepted prospective members Paul and Z are interested in this.

Hannah: Mike, McAllen for the time being, Nolan shortly moving in, living in the common space. Mike and McAllen moving into 204 on June 1. Nolan will be moving in on the 28th or the 29th. We'll have two other rooms available. Travis and Leslie coming to Austin on July 1 but will not have a unit until July 13 (unit 201). Want to have a common space residence from July 1 up until that point. We have a couple of really enthusiastic prospective members who are interested. Seems we only have one room.

Z: Living with my mom right now. My last lease ended very badly. Not working as well as I'd like. Some room, even if it's just a small place to just put up a massage table and sleep, would be nice as soon as possible.

Hannah: Have a unit expiring in August; don't know if they want to move out or not. Wanted to introduce this topic because I don't know if we want to use this space as transitional housing. Then there's the question of which of these people would be able to utilize it.

Victor: Until we have enough money to remodel and create a professional kitchen, it only makes good sense. Separate from who goes in here, but, until we can spend whatever it will take, I think it only makes sense.

Hannah: Travis and Leslie will only need the space for about two weeks. If one of you could be flexible for two weeks, could make both of y'all's living space possible.

Z: I have to be in town to receive my new work laptop. My cousin getting married in Italy on July 26. Will be gone for some portion of July but not sure of the dates.

Paul: Have other places I can stay for a while. Is this a stuff-moving thing?

Hannah: Your stuff would probably have to be gone.

Greg: We already committed to having Nolan in the space. We don't have a space dedicated/promised to Nolan yet. His tenure in the common space is open-ended as it is. I think we need to honor the commitment we made to him for as long as we need it. Wouldn't feel comfortable pulling it out from him. I like having people committed to the coop living at the coop. I'm in favor of bringing in more coopers. Might make things more complicated to move people into units if they have pet incompatibilities. We're overwhelmed with maintenance. Dreaming of what our ideal common space would be is in the future.

Donny: Nolan should definitely have a spot. Living here has been like living in a coop without a commons. I don't want to come here because I think I'll be disturbing people. We were happy to have this as a crash transition, but I'd like to get it so that we're not trying to rent rooms out of here. Even if we're not going to remodel it right now, it still could be a welcoming space.

Nolan: I like the idea of coming out of my living room and finding people hanging out. I'm looking forward to moving in here and having that. If I'm here, feel free to come.

Will: I find both sides compelling. Important that we present ourselves by offering the space. At the same time, I don't have a key. It's supposed to be common space. I don't feel welcome coming into it because people live there. If I go, I knock quietly. I don't know when people are sleeping. Not against the idea.

Z: What if everybody posted their schedule on their door?

William: I think it presents a possible issue of people who have been favored. Could have people who want to become a member. Do they get the space before someone else?

Hannah: If you have a spot in the commons unit, you are prioritized for moving into a regular unit.

Molly: I see having the common space as a place for people to live as important because we're on an elastic schedule as far as when people will stay or go. The worst thing that could happen is for rooms not to be filled. When we have people who are really interested in moving in but they aren't given an exact timeframe, having extra space really helps fill the coop as a whole.

Mike: Could help to provide labor, and money to remodel.

Hannah: How would you all feel about minor remodeling? I'd like to paint this room, personally.

Nolan: Fine by me.

Z: I personally like having people around, especially when I'm working and doing office hours. Would be nice to have a good way to communicate to people that I'm trying to sleep. I understand what people are saying; makes sense that you'd feel uncomfortable. I think it's just a communication thing and can be worked out.

Donny: I'm not convinced that we can't fill these rooms without offering a temporary space. We've seen huge demand for spaces. I think we'll fill the rooms regardless. I'd like more people doing maintenance two weeks earlier if possible. I think we're lacking communication. This is where that happens. Not happening in our apartments. This is where peoples' brains come together. I want this space to be functional as a common space. I'd like it to be a space that we don't have a mental barrier to going to.

Sarah: Going to start chasing some major remodeling money from the city. Would allow us to knock out walls, maybe re-do the kitchen, do access things. I can see both sides of this argument. While we don't have major remodeling on the immediate horizon, once we have the money to start knocking down walls, then we may have to say, 'okay, we can't have four people living here.' Maybe the people who sign common space leases do so with the understanding that, once remodeling begins, they're not going to be able to move in.

Hannah: I think it's reasonable to have common space leases be month-to-month leases. We don't do that with other units because we depend on that income. Income from the common space is all icing.

Molly: We all work pretty different schedules. Always awake from 5-10 pm. If we had a set time period every day where the common space would be expected to be open but is specifically acknowledged by the people living in it that it's going to be a common space in that time period, we could do that. Then we won't have to worry about showing up and people wandering around naked, unless they want to.

Paul: Would mean more money and labor, more opportunity to fill spaces maybe. Objections are mostly around using common space as common space, which it should be. That's a really important thing, but everyone renting the common space is going in with the full knowledge that it is common space.

Molly: Motion that we set aside specific common room hours every day.

Victor: I second.

Donny: Need to say what the hours are.

Victor: I would like to call those salon hours; make them 5-10.

Molly: A little earlier on the weekends? 3-10 or something?

Victor: Sure.

Hannah: Probably no one cares from noon onwards. I'd like more common space hours rather than less.

Victor: 12-10 for salon hours, 7 days/week.

Greg: I'd leave it up to the people in the common space to open it up as much as they want. For me, my schedule is very early, so I would need to knock off fairly early in the evening. One of the issues for me would be the use of the kitchen. It's a limited refridgerator. We've got 3-4 people eating out of the refridgerator. I'd be concerned about people leaving things there, and all of the sudden there isn't enough space.

Nolan: I'm confused about the proposal. I agree with it in spirit. Totally in favor of people being able to use the area as a commons. Seems weird that we're voting on it. The only people who have a problem are the people living in the commons. Will anyone in the commons have a problem with salon hours being perpetual?

Sarah: Institute quiet hours?

Donny: This is the whole thing. We have concerns about the fridge. It gets really complicated. Is it for everyone, or for the three people who live here? There's good reason we started doing it. We need more people, but we also need to be a coop. It's a big barrier to leave your unit where you're self-sufficient to come across the courtyard. It adds to the barrier of being here. I'm okay for us doing this, but I don't want it to be perpetual. We may never get this common area. That could kill us. We need more interaction, not less.

Molly: I like the idea of quiet hours. makes more sense than open hours. People can say they're comfortable as much as they want, but ther'es still an inate social awareness of going into someone else's living space that will make people uncomfortable. Not necessarily to make people living here more comfortable, but to help people move around that social awareness in a way that is productive.

Hannah: Want to focus on discussing whether we want to do this or not.

Z: I think it would be neat if the people living in the common space (I'm hoping to be one of them) would go out of their way to have events that will specifically welcome people. Making soup or coffee, etc. would help to bridge the situation. Social capital is built by working together more than doing anything else.

Hillary: I think there should be a date after which we don't sign any new contracts for this space. If our remodeling date is still up in the air, we don't have to rush that. maybe re-visit every month until we figure it out. I agree with Victor, to use it to raise money and save for remodeling.

Molly: Either decide on a date, or work hard on figuring out when we can start remodeling. When we start remodeling, that should be the moment that we don't sign any more common space contracts. If we keep pushing back the date, then could go on indefinitely.

Paul: The remodeling will happen at some point, whether through money from the common area or through the city. Everyone will be on month-to-month leases, right? When it's ready to be remodeled, we can just terminate the contracts.

Donny: I would not want to see us taking over the common space tied to something such as remodeling. Will be tens of thousands of dollars that we don't know how we're going to get. We're already short on common space. Putting up barriers is bad. We need to be hanging out here to have cross-pollination of ideas.

Mike: Will start having meals here, so people will hang out here more by default.

Greg: We might be able to have a medium where maybe one room is let, that would cut down on that kind of social barrier. Would be easier to know how many schedules nede to be coordinated. Maybe the solution would be to not let people like Paul and Z. Would be a more open-ended thing. Accepting Nolan because we're already committed to him. Those cases are different from new people who want to come in.

Donny: If even one person is living here, it's a barrier for me to come over here.

Hannah: I think we should vote on it; have non-members leave the room. Motion to use the common space as transitional housing for Paul and Z, not to be continued after that necessarily, on a month-to-month lease basis, with the understanding that one of them, determined by the flip of a coin unless decided amongst ourselves, will need to be maneuvered out of the room for two weeks to help Travis and Leslie.

Hannah: I was worried about filling this unit. Was not immediately easy because of the neighborhood. Having some flexibility is a nice thing for me as membership coordinator. Don't think it should be the deciding factor, but it is a factor.

Meghan?: I agree with what you're saying about common space being more common, but it's become more and more, even though people are staying here, I've noticed a huge change and the whole attitude. I think a month to three months more would be safe.

Donny: If I were membership coordinator, I'd love to have two of these rooms to help with leases and someone's schedule. They're going to want to use that because it's easier to do their job. I think we've got to set a boundary in time beyond which we will not do this, or it's just going to keep being done.

Hannah: I think it'll get a lot easier from here on out. I don't think I'd want to use this after this wave. We could get extra money and labor; we're in need of people power. There's a give and take. I'd love to set up a computer lab and a play room. I think the benefit is greater than the cost with allowing these folks to stay here, in terms of income and enthusiasm and a greater network of people.

Victor: We're making it clear that we can end this when it benefits the coop. When it benefits the coop, this can stop. I wonder if we could consider doing a partial renovation, maybe putting in a door somewhere else, cutting off these two openings, and having a separate space. We don't have to completely renovate everything to put in another door. I think Hannah's motion puts the concern of the coop first. With month-to-month leases, we can end it 30 days from whenever.

Will: I think it's really important that we have a common space. Otherwise I have no desire to talk to you people. You've got to drag me out of my house.

Greg: I'm torn on this as well. Donny, I see the wisdom of your experience and drive to make this a truly common space. I want to have as many people as we can get. Will help us overcome those barriers. I'll ultimately support the motion but weary of the consequences.

Will: Has a short term.

Greg: We need to double down. Want to pick a night to make soup, and I'll come over with soup.

Donny: I will support this motion if we added a friendly amendment that said we wouldn't do this after Paul and Z. Then we can start doing things here. The kids want to come in here already. I definitely want labor but would support this with the friendly amendment.

Hannah: I accept. If we vote on it another time, we might do it. I will not mention it to future prospective members as a potential option. We can talk at another point; I think we could have advertised the moving expenses coverage more than we did. It's not impossible that there might be somebody who hasn't been fully informed about it. We talked about it at the barbecue and individually but don't know if that diffused to everybody. At this point, I'm weary. If I got five responses, could I fill those rooms? That's why I've been hesitant to put a flyer on everyone's door.

Proposal passes 9-0.

(Hannah)One resident whose lease is expiring at the end of this month has a lease approved for renewal by HACA at the rate of $695 a month. This was approved before CHEA bought the building. If HACA does allow us to change it will take several months and seems unfair to this resident to change the deal, even though ownership has changed. Vote to approve allowing this lease rate to stand for the tenant's lease term to come and to absorb losses from the vacancy fund.

Meghan: i thought that everyone was made aware of the rent increase when there was a transition.

Hannah: They are, but were also told that they could ride out their lease. This person's lease was already approved by HACA.

Greg: Are they already active?

Hannah: Already voted in as a coop member.

Donny: Not on the labor schedule yet but isn't their fault; haven't signed a lease.

Hannah: They've done everything on their end that they can.

Donny seconds.

Proposal passes 8-0.

New business

Hannah: I need to get a couple of leases to normalize $800/month for HACA.

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