Present: Andy, Burgess, Carey, Cathy, Frankie, Gatlin, Jack, Jesse, Jim, Karena, Merle, Mike, Peter, Rowan, Tim
Karena: Used to live at 21st St. Lease ends July 31.
Merle: We live in a house together and share a room. Would like to move in here as soon as I can.
Karena and Merle interested in a room together.
Cathy Lee: Coming to observe. Have known McAllen for many years. Have a friend who might be interested.
Rowan: Going to move in with Tim temporarily. Leaving the state at the end of next month.
Jim has a cat. Interested in a single or a double depending on compatibility.
Karena?: Would be interested in gardening, composting, building a clothes line. At 21st St, we have doubles and build lofts. Was wondering if we could build a loft.
Carey: Wanted to talk about how we would handle blocks and the possible need to override a block.
Gatlin: I was talking to Jim and Melinda Jones about consensus. I think Melinda termed it as consensus - 1 + justification. Two people required to block something, and must come with justification. If the group did not deem it sufficient, then a super-majority could override it.
Jesse: Modified consensus then. My understanding is that, in consensus, the only reason for a block is that there is no agreement, and they have to give a reason, and then the group converses on that situation.
Carey: One of the issues I've seen and heard of is people abusing the block system, blocking for reasons not related to the point at hand or soully for the purpose of disrupting the process. That is something that I would prefer we take care of before we have to face it. I don't want to require two people for a block since we have small meetings, but I like the idea of a germaneness test for blocks. The house would have the ability, with unanimous consent minus the person blocking, to decide whether the block is germane.
??: Blocks, when used in consensus for a movement, generally entail that, if someone blocks, they'll leave the movement and walk out if it passes, but can't enforce that when you're living here. Might mean an automatic table.
Azzurra: there's a block that happened in Occupy that we didn't listen to and should have. Someone who was a strong member of the movement left over it. At the same time, if you're talking about a membership review, if we had complete consensus, then, as long as the person being reviewed disagreed, one block would make sure there was never a membership review. I would like to have a modified consensus where one block would be enough under certain conditions. Usually a block means that there is something fundamentally uncooperative. I would have blocked the food proposal as proposed by Leslie. I still regret the fact that I can't come down and know that I can eat after being here for a year. Should need justification while blocking, and I would be comfortable with a block possibly requiring more than one person, but okay with the house deciding to allow one person to block, too.
Jesse: I've never seen a membership review performed under consensus. In a membership review, a block seems to limit the group's ability to deal with disciplinary issues.
Marilyn: There's a policy for membership reviews. I don't think we need to take that up.
Carey: I don't think blocks need to be considered as a “I'm going to move out” situation. I don't see that as tenable. We're not dealing with a movement; we're dealing with a living situation.
Mike: HoC had modified consensus. If there was a dissent, the group would try to address the concern. The resolution could be tabled, or there could be a call for a vote which would require a super-majority to pass the proposal.
Jesse: I lived at a coop in Eugene, and I've never seen a block happen. The gravity has to be obvious.
Azzurra: Would like to propose to try the process of having a single block be able to stop the proposal from going forward with the understanding that the block has to be germane and well-placed. The person needs to have raised a concern, listened to friendly amendments, and said, “no, my concern has not been met.” The food proposal is the only thing I can think of that I would have blocked. I think that requiring two people to block would also be a good proposal.
A straw poll was conducted. More people prefer requiring two people for a block.
Tim: If we require two blocks, wouldn't it feel more like voting? I don't feel like a block should have to garner support to go through.
Jesse: The second block is saying they agree that the first person's issues have been raised and talked about.
Azzurra: I agree with everything that has been said, but I also understand the concern that people at houses have become obstinent.
Tim: The germaneness should address that.
Richard: Who determines whether a block is germane?
Carey: If someone was blocking for a non-germane reason, I'm confident that the rest of the house would see that it's not a real reason.
Azzurra: I'm wondering if we could go with two blocks for a little while and see what happens, and then think about what it means if only one person blocks? Does that mean that the person could revoke their membership?
The two-block solution does not pass.
The one-block solution does not pass.
Both are tabled.
Mike: Filling all of our June openings came right down to the wire. I think this was for several reasons, but one was that we had a couple in a room in 207, the other room in the apartment needed to be filled, and a couple people turned down the room because they did not want to live with a couple. I think this would be less of an issue if the room was priced more attractively for the person living with the couple.
Frankie: What constitutes a couple?
Mike: two people in a room.
Georgette: I think a couple should be intimate.
Jack: Do we have a policy on how many visitors/guests can be in each room?
Frankie: Do we also need to consider if there are three people in one room? Should it be a relationship couple vs. friend couple?
Concerns: The mechanics of writing six-month leases seem complicated in terms of amounts. What if a couple moves into an apartment that already has a person living there?
Mike: I think the original person could decide if they're okay with a couple moving in. If not, then the couple can't move into that room. If so, then the original person's monthly payment could be lowered.
Can we define what's a room?
Burgess: We have 20 apartments with 2 bedrooms.
What if two couples in a single apartment?
Richard: If there are other circumstances, can resolve later.
Richard: The two people aren't getting 2/3 of the apartment amenities. How about 60%?
Burgess: I'm fine with it as drafted. It's impossible to imagine an alpha position against a couple.
Marilyn: We are trying to make the extra bedroom as appealing as possible.
Mike: I agree with Marilyn now that I think about it.
Richard is okay with the situation.
Jack: I feel like our existing policy already covers this. If a person is sleeping on the couch or in a relationship, either way, they're still a guest. Not the way things are done at traditional apartment complex.
Mike: Last month, William and Meghan weren't out of 207 until after 11:00 pm on the 31st, Blair wanted to come shortly after midnight to paint 106, and Peter and Georgette had to move from 106 to 207 but couldn't get into 207 until William and Meghan were out. I think we were creating expectations that weren't realistic in terms of 106 being available immediately.
Richard: In a traditional apartment, don't you have until the last day to get things out? If one person is moving out on the 31st, the next person should be able to move in on the 1st.
Georgette: This is a coop. Get yourselves out at a reasonable hour so that a person can get in there. I try to be cooperative and do extra cleaning and other things.
Marilyn: Maybe we should make it 8am the following day instead of midnight.
Mike okay with this.
Burgess: I paid rent for two months without being able to live here. Then moved in and didn't really have an apartment that I could move into for another 11 days because the person I was replacing had not moved out.
Jesse: We sign a lease saying the time we're getting there and leaving. If people go over, people should be charged. The onus should be on the people moving out.
Burgess: I think this was an isolated situation, possibly with people having unrealistic expectations.
Jesse: If I know I'm moving, I pack my things. Ideally the overlap should be a few minutes. it's the responsibility of the people in the situation to move when the time comes.
Does not pass. Tabled.
Peter: When I came in here, lease was for myself only. Somewhere along the line, I met Georgette and offered to stay with her for a week or two. Asked her to leave, and she said no. Right now I'm staying in a hotel. Her things are still there. I need the money to be refunded.
Burgess: Several days ago, I saw you not be able to get into your apartment. I knocked on the door and said that anyone paying rent should be able to get into their apartment. She felt exposed to abuse.
Marilyn: I'm the one who signed her on to the lease because, at various meetings, you presented each other as fiances. It seemed obvious to me that you were both sharing a room and, therefore, she should be on the lease. There are several married couples here, and both their names were on.
Peter: I never introduced her as my fiance.
Carey: She was introduced as your fiance at one of the first meetings that I went to.
Peter: Did I introduce her?
Peter: You don't just add people to a legal document. I indicated that she should be taken out of my lease, but it was never done.
??: Are we reimbursing you for the cost of your hotel?
Carey: Regardless of Georgette being on the lease, it is my understanding that she still has tenants' rights, being here for over 30 days.
Hannah: Requires 30 days notice to vacate.
Burgess: I'm yet another witness to Georgette having been introduced as a friend and a fiance by Peter.
Hannah: There's a gap between May 17 and June 12 when I got the first email saying that she shouldn't be on the lease. There was almost a month where it wasn't a problem and then it was. I think what Carey said is quite germane. I told Peter that he was welcome to call the police, but I'm 99% sure, based on interactions with the police and the shelter I used to work at, that you can't make someone leave who has been there for 30 days without 30 days notice. I'm confused as to why we would be paying half the rent back. You would have been paying that even if she wasn't on the lease. The coop has limited ability to intervene between roommates.
Peter: You cannot be a tenant without financial stake in a capitalist economy.
Richard: Did you make a formal request that she leave?
Peter: Yes, and she was already on the lease.
Georgette: I'm sorry for pulling you all into this. If he had owned these decisions, would be one thing. We came here with the intent on cohabitating if a marriage can be made. There were shifts with the rooms. I had to encourage him to be honest. I was never a guest.
Jesse: From my experience, every introduction of her has been as his fiance.
Peter: I would like to withdraw my deposit and would like to leave.
Frankie: I became a member in late May. Had the option of living with Georgette and Peter. They were introduced as a couple and both consented and confirmed that they were a couple.
Carey: You mentioned that people not paying rent have no rights to an apartment. I can vouch from personal experience that this is a falsehood. Was splitting an apartment with someone when I had no income. He tried to get me removed from the lease since I had no income, but this was not done.
Hannah: Apartment complexes don't care who is paying rent as long as it's paid.
Peter: Each situation is different.
Hannah: I think the time to ask for a rent break has past. As far as the coop is concerned, you have been occupying the apartment for the past two months. If you've been paying for a hotel, it isn't the coop's concern to compensate you. Going forward, I think that adjusting your contract so that you can leave would be okay. Doesn't seem to be working out for you or the coop. But I don't think that refunding you for your hotel is appropriate. I propose that Peter be allowed to break his lease at a date to be determined between him and the membership coordinators and that the $100 contract break fee be waived.
Peter doesn't seem to accept the friendly amendment.
Proposal doesn't pass.
Hannah: If you can be guaranteed in writing that your security deposit will be returned, is that what you're wanting?
Proposal is withdrawn.
Blair: Made me uncomfortable because I don't want to be filmed without my permission, and this is the third time that he was supposed to show but didn't. We should get a proposal from Jorge and vote on it.
Hannah: He has said that he is not going to film anybody without a written consent form. I sent out an email from Jorge, and he sent out some questions for us to consider. If you have concerns, then you can email him.
Did you discuss this with the membership coordinators?
Jesse: Yes, I did. Were concerns raised about frivolous use of the yellow card system and putting additional strain on membership. Could be reversed if it were used frivolously.
Hannah: Sometimes people use no-shows as behavioral things. I'm not sure what the labor czars do about that. At Sasona, it is counted as a no-show if someone calls you a jerk, but it'll get thrown out if it comes to a member review. If you're yellow-carded, then you'll get notice, and it's on you to appeal it.
Cleanliness standards, etc. should be consensus on each apartment. If your roommate isn't cleaning something to the level of the commons, then should be addressed by roommates individually. We're going to have more three-hour meetings based on petty fights between people.
Jesse: This is more about uncooperative behavior that significantly and continually affects a member's ability to use the common spaces inside and outside their unit.
I don't think yellow cards are the best way of dealing with this.
Jesse: The reason I'm suggesting it is that it has worked at other coops.
At what point is a complaint frivolous? Would we be able to potentially restrict it to common spaces outside the apartment?
Jesse: Even though we live in apartments, the apartments are just like a dorm room. If the roommates can't seem to come to an agreement about how to live with one another, then a yellow card is really the only opportunity for that to be addressed in a meaningful way.
Carey: While I was staying at 21st St, each of the suites had rather different expectations about levels of cleanliness within those suites. I really don't think that you should attempt to apply any sort of blanket standard to things like apartment cleanliness.
Jesse: At no point did I suggest that we apply the same standard of cleanliness in the commons to apartments. Want to create a means to address disagreements.
Marilyn: In which way is this formal yellow card system better than having a conflict resolution person?
Jesse: Would be in addition to. Charging someone $10 for screaming in the coop every night seems reasonable. It requires them to explain themselves. Right now there's no process for dealing with it.
Who decides whether or not it's frivolous?
Jesse: The house.
I think it would be hard to implement without some kind of mediator system. I've noticed that we don't have any kind of mediator right now.
Jesse: That's one of the reasons I suggested that I'd respond by creating that position proposal.
Hannah: I would like to see us have more tools. Not everybody agrees to mediation. There's not always a direct person to mediate with. Who would Honey have had a mediation with? The whole community? That's a member review. What do you do, other than talk to the person?
Carey: Is there a standard for defining uncooperative behavior?
Jesse: What does our lease say about cooperative behavior? Up to interpretation at the house level when we get the yellow card.
Richard: Would you accept that at least two people have to endorse a card?
Jesse: I'd be happy to try that out.
Frankie: I think they should be limited to abusive and harassing behavior and not petty roommate disputes.
Jesse: No, we have a process for abusive and harassing behavior. Can be member reviewed.
Burgess: We have people wanting to occupy full apartments, meaning that we'll have fewer people doing labor, and we're also talking about creating new labor positions for conflict resolution.
Hannah: For a while, there were frequent dirty dishes left out in the commons. I knew who they were, I talked to them about it, and nothing happened. I would have loved to yellow card those folks. I'd like to suggest that you make a suggested list of things that are appropriate for yellow cards and a list of things that are not. I think we should give it a try if Jesse's motivated to do this.
Richard: Friendly amendment to apply only to things happening after now?
Jesse: No. I'm not going to yellow card every time someone has dirty dishes in the sink. I'm going to yellow card for a specific action. Whether it has happened five times, it's still one yellow card.
Richard/Carey concerned about it being punitive for past actions.
Azzurra: I'd rather err on the side of having more yellow cards than fewer. I'm wondering why we even need to have the $10 fine or an hour of labor. As a friendly amendment, I'd like to offer that getting a yellow card as shaming would be enough. Someone who is better off monetarily could just pay the $10 and not deal with the issue. Maybe make it mandatory that the person who got the yellow card came to the house to talk about it. Friendly amendment to strike the punitive aspect of it unless the yellow card requires something that requires punitive damage. If you up-end an ash tray in the courtyard, need to clean it up or do extra labor. In addition, I would also say that it would be for future only. A week ago, I didn't have the expectation that this existed. If it was retroactive, isn't cooperative.
Jesse: I accept that since it doesn't make sense that it's retroactive. Makes logical sense.
Carey: Concerned that it automates our member review process, which I have serious moral misgivings with. As it stands, requires three separate people be in agreement that this is a serious problem. With this system, could only have two people agree that it's a problem.
Carey: What's to prevent two people from filling out three yellow cards?
Jesse: That individual would need to answer three of the yellow cards. If we found them to be germane, then would trigger a member review.
Hannah: I think that a member review could be automatically posted but could still need three signatures.
Tim: Could we make it so that the yellow cards need to be written by three different people?
Jesse: I think that that sounds fine. I think we're getting bogged down in minutia.
Jack: Could be modified as we go.
Richard: At your previous coop, were there yellow card meetings every week?
Jesse: No. It's a tool to address behavior where we can't engage individual coopers. We don't have a tool for that except for the member review.
Jack: There are a lot of minutia that I'm concerned about.
Jesse: We've had a lot of problems in the last year and a half, and all we've had is individual members communicating with each other, and these communications don't have any teeth.
Hannah: Could be an automatic notification to the house that someone has three yellow cards, and would be up to the house to initiate a member review.
Burgess: It seems that some of us have had more time to think about this than at the end of a very long meeting. I made some bad assumptions at first.
Mike: I had some concerns that were voiced by others already. We don't know how this will play out, so I'm okay with giving it a try. Also okay with tabling for a week to give people more time to think about it.
Frankie: I wouldn't feel comfortable voting either way until we've had some guidelines as to what can be yellow-carded.
Hannah: We don't know the time frame in which three yellow cards lead to member reviews.
Jesse: Six months.
Proposal passes contingent on guidelines being written.
Burgess: If anyone has any concerns about safety, it will be posted at the legal time. Chem-free, by state statute, cannot apply chemicals harmful to animals or to children.
Jesse: Will they need access to the walls? My book shelves might be in the way.
Burgess: That is fine.