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Here are the notes from Tuesday's meeting. Thank you Mike Gorse for contributing your notes, and lots of thanks to everyone who participated!
I've done some editing of the original notes taken, mainly by summarizing them. In the Community Outreach section I gave a summary paragraph of the info we discussed followed what people said. Some of what I wrote in this paragraph is underlined. These portions of it are parts of what we've discussed as being our core goals, or principles. I didn't think to record the names of the people who spoke as I was taking notes, so many of the discussion points I've denoted with question marks at the beginning. Mike included your names in his notes and so some of the discussion points have them. The action items also don't have names assigned to them except for the ones I volunteered for. I apologize for any confusion. Please look over the action items and choose which ones you'd like to take on. * *I put a couple of things in parenthesis. These are questions I had after reading the notes, for things that I feel need some further clarification.* *Everyone please feel free to add any thoughts you may have.*
* Good location (Airport and Manor), parks, HEB, rapidly developing neighborhood * Huge back yard. Room to build another building. Almost an acre of land. * An old house built in the 30's, divided into two units (maybe 3/4 bedrooms each, with a lot of extra living rooms) * Another building with a series of two 2-bedroom apartments flanked by a 1-bedroom apartment * Chicken coop * Lots of parking
*Clifford*: Code requires a certain egris(sp?) size since, if the window is too small, you can't get out in a fire
*Jay*: Should check with the development assistance center. If there's a floor plan, you might be able to find it there.
*Clifford*: When you get serious about a property, talk to the development assistance center. They will write you up a land use opinion regarding your proposed use.
*# Action Items
*-McAllen*: Get the property's info package from Matt, see if it includes the floor plan
-Get the following info from the floor plan * Find out the window size specification in the one-window-per-bedroom rule * Ventilation * Room access
-Contact the Dept of Neighborhood Planning to see how zoning would work in JJ Seabrook nieghborhood
Get the exact definitions of MF-2 & MF-4 (does Daniel Miller know them?)
*-McAllen*: Survey the property values in the area, ask Matt for this info
*-McAllen*: Ask Matt about other prospective buyers looking at the property
-Contact N Assoc. (do we need to do this now or later down the road?)
-Discuss the feasability of pooling our own funds for a property downpayment and lending those funds to NP. This would expidite our ability to buy a place.
One of our goals for the new coop is to* welcome people of diverse backgrounds.* The student and independent coops in Austin collectively have already gone far in* welcoming people of different age groups and sexual orientations*. We hope to broaden this range of coopers even further by*reaching out to people of differing economic, racial and political backgrounds.* Another goal is to *provide affordable housing,* we will want to keep this in mind as we shop for properties, especially since we want to invite people from lower-income brackets.
*Gatlyn*: Some people get turned off by the hippie vibe. If we explain that it's for everybody, hippie-haters might not turn it down.
*McAllen*: I'd like to get to know people in commnity/civic/religious organizations who have our same core values. They would make great coopers, we should start to get to know them and see if they'd be interested. An example of one such organization is a nation-wide service organization affiliated with Americorps called City Year. I worked with them in Philadelphia providing tutoring and after school programs to at-risk youth in low-income neighborhoods. The 160 members were made up of a highkly diverse group of people from around the country ranging from rural and urban working class people to college-educated people from a range of economic backgrounds. It also included several people who grew up in the very communities that we served.
*Jay*: What is the diversity of the Tillery St neighborhood?
*??*: The demographic is changing.
*??*: That raises the stakes. We're either going to be actively participating in gentrification, or we'll be providing an alternative that embraces a changing city with a certain amount of fairness. If we get a property in east Austin or any other area with a significant changing population, maybe we can reserve a certain number of places for people from the neighborhood.
*??*: I was thinking of actively seeking out people who have been there for a long time to be part of our coop.
*??: *Almost all the coops in Austin are in high-income areas. Even if the students in WC aren't, their parents are. The average room rate in Sasona is about the same as in College Houses. That is low for Barton Hills and West Campus but incredibly high for rest of Austin/Texas. Will make diversity easier if this coop is truly affordable. Hit that 450 mark and you'll get a lot of diversity. Directly because, honestly, we're the ones who can afford to live in coops right now. If we can make it easier, it democratizes it. We're here because we can afford it.
*??*: Income-qualified people. With student coops, your income is your parents' income. Could reserve a certain amount of rooms for people at a certain level of income.
??*: I think that income qualification is a good stick to measure by, but would be hesitant to put in other kinds of quotas. Could end up with an artificial diversity. The coop should be harmonious. We'd have a lot of artificial things in place, and wouldn't be real. Would not want it to be a precedent for setting other quotas.
*Jessie*: Coops are a seed, like NASCO is seeding us, the same way that ICC got started. To increase affordable housing, 4 rooms, 2 rooms in one house isn't the way you do it. By creating these coops, making this a default option for people seeking a place to live, rather than just an apartment or a house. We'll have to do a lot more than setting aside a couple of rooms. We need to put in something in the charter saying that it's something CHEA wants to contribute.
*Mollie*: Maybe we could go back to the original history of coop housing. Was providing housing and also services. Could actively recruit members from neighborhood orgs but also actively recruit people to be from the neighborhood, recruit “associates” from the neighborhood and strongly invest in a community-style garden. Could address certain essential problems in poor neighborhoods while avoiding the quandary you brought up.
*Clifford*: When we start mentioning associate memberships, that's when zoning kicks back in.
*??*: We will definitely need MF-4 zoning if we want to have associate members. An alternative option is to set up something similar to “internet cafes” in which a service that's unrelated to the official organization or business is provided unofficially. This is my interpretation of what I heard about this idea btw. Whoever brought it up, please feel free to clarify or edit it as necessary.* *Donnie*: Back on the affordability track, sort of a problem that's solved for us if we're a CHEA house, is CHEA is a 501c3 largely because it' written in its charter. There is income-testing for CHEA. If we raise the rents too much, it's not even raising the rents, if we have too many rich people, we'd be at risk of losing tax-exempt status. *Mike*: May want to have income criteria more aggressive than what the charter calls for. *??*: Austin Free Skool would love a place to take classes. *McAllen*: Having associate members, a community garden, and allowing the Austin Free Skool to come and do activities are all examples of another one of our core goals which is to* have our coop be a venue for activities that are fun, educational, and support community development.*
* Explore CHEA's income qualification requirements. * Recruit associates from the neighborhood to move in when we're set up. * Provide services, community gardens etc. * *McAllen*: Compile a list of community/civic/religious orgs in Austin that we'd be interested in visiting to find people interested in being members, associates, or participating in our future projects. (Is anyone else interested in doing a little research and finding these organizations in Austin that sound like good candidates?)
*Hannah*: I'd like to make a quick survey to send out to folks involved in the project, current co-op members, and possibly folks on the Sasona waiting list to see what qualities/assets/facilities/attitudes they'd want in their ideal community. It would be cool to have some help brainstorming useful questions to ask.
(Did we come up with any questions at the meeting, or did we decide to think of the questions afterward and send them to you?)
(Does anyone object to removing Matt Robb from the discussion list? We discussed this but I don't remember what we decided exactly. Daniel Miller brought up the point that real estate agents aren't normally privy to the kinds of information that we're discussing amongst ourselves as a coop planning group. This isn't a reflection the character or intentions of he and his business partners whatsoever, but is merely an issue of the most appropriate protocol for our discussion. If we agree to remove him I'd like to just delete his name from the group and then go back to forwarding the property listings he sends me - I feel that this would be the easiest thing to do, unless anyone feels differently.)