We are residents and owners of a 22 unit limited equity coop apartment building in Berkeley, California.
Below are brief, incomplete summaries of our cooperative. Our Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Proprietary Lease provide complete description of Member and Cooperative duties and responsibilities.
Being a 1920’s building, our units may be considered small by some of today’s standards (although they are laid out so that once in them, they may seem larger than the numbers below).
- Studios (11): Most new members will join us by moving into a studio. Studios are in the 405-481 square feet range.
- One bedroom units (9): Since Members have priority to move into a vacated apartment, vacant one-bedroom units are usually taken by existing Members. One-bedroom units are in the 546-741 square feet range.
- Two-bedroom units (2): These units rarely come available. In our history, one two-bedroom unit has become available. Two-bedroom units are 1,017-1,038 square feet.
Member Interest: “Share Value”
As a limited equity cooperative, Members own a share in the organization. The cost of each share is based on the relative size and value of each individual unit, as established by the cooperative when it was formed. Share values increase yearly based on state law and approximate “cost of living”/inflation increases (averaging in the 3-5% range, but never more than 10%). Ownership of a share entitles the Member(s) to occupy a specific unit in the building. Notice that this means, unlike in a condo, the Member does not own their unit. Ownership of the physical building, including responsibility for maintenance of plumbing, major appliances, etc., remains with the cooperative.
Shares are purchased by Members upon joining the Cooperative, and are paid back when the Members leaves (Shares are paid back at the new value based on the annual increases). Shares range from around $8,000 to $21,000 (2010 values).
Members pay a monthly assessment that covers all operating and projected expenses of the Coop. This includes payment of our mortgage, utilities (Members pay for electricity in their own unit), fees and taxes, and contributions to our Replacement Reserve funds (these pay for such things as re-roofing, replacement of major appliances, upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms, and other long-term expenses). Monthly assessments are based on the relative size and value of each unit, and the Members approve a budget yearly.
Monthly assessment ranges (2010):
- Studios: $ 325 – $ 555
- One-bedrooms: $ 505 – $ 690
- Two-bedrooms: $ 830 – $ 964
We have a minimal amount of storage in garage space behind our main building. Members are not guaranteed garage space, but we attempt to distribute them equitably. New members often do not get any space when they first move in.
Almost all work required to run our cooperative business is done by Members (we hire out for a few professional services). This means that Members are expected to perform duties around the cooperative. Members contribute through just about any task you can image, including maintenance, yardwork, bookkeeping, cleaning common hallways, Committee and Board meetings.
- We have a Membership Meeting about once every month or two to discuss issues of the cooperative and make decisions.
- We have a Board (composed of elected Members) that meets monthly.
- There are other Committees and working groups that meet either monthly or as needed by that group.
We do not have regular, frequent, socializing events built in, but we are not complete strangers to each other either. Some of our meetings have voluntary potlucks before them, and we have an annual holiday party in December. We hold work days a few times a year, and there are several meetings of various types each month.
Located at 1740 Walnut Street, we are about five blocks from Downtown Berkeley and the BART station, and about two blocks from “North Shattuck/Gourmet Ghetto.” The University of California is two blocks away (well, their experimental corn field is right across the street from us).
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