Co-op/condo dwellers may welcome thoughts on our once rent-controlled co-op’s forthcoming annual meeting. But imagine: only about two hours to elect the board (incumbents all running again) and discuss last year’s considerable events and next year’s plans. It’s surely not the usual corporation shareholder meeting when our homes and often our major—maybe our only—financial asset is at stake. Maybe only half the tenants show up, even though more than half were distressed by the recent radical lobby renovation. Quite a few were vocal about wanting only a refurbishment of our lobby, but that was not an option.
Former Assembly Member Pete Grannis unsuccessfully co-sponsored a “Co-op Bill of Rights” some years ago, when he saw how co-op and condo dwellers needed more leverage when it comes to totalitarian-type board actions. So, let’s pressure our current Assembly members to re-introduce it, even if Assembly Member Micah Kellner has said in effect, “It could take years.” Not if there’s enough pressure!
But most co-op/condo tenants don’t take their housing woes to legislators or the media. Co-ops and condo grievances are rarely aired on a public level, or shared sufficiently in-house either. Those who do share may become persona non grata with the board and managing agent.
It helps if co-op/condo dwellers write letters to the editor, as this compulsive letter-writer does. I withdrew the last one that the Times real estate section was considering for publication because I hoped somehow to persuade the board to spare our incandescent-lit chandelier and wall sconces. “Lighting,” I wrote, “does more than anything to make or break a place.” I’m sorry now to have withdrawn the letter, which wished my co-op board would forego unnecessary expenditures as other boards were reportedly doing.
So now the lobby is lit by six new incandescent ceiling pin spots on dimmers, and most mightily lit by an office-style ceiling fixture and four wall sconces, which only use fluorescent bulbs and can not be dimmed. Waaaah! If only they’d spared the original lighting, the new décor—especially the carpet—would not look so, well, tired. That’s what these “energy efficients” ironically do, although the warm-white tubes/bulbs enervate less than the cool-whites.
Now, this longtime conservationist is all for measures that “do no harm,” like reducing excessive light use and super-wasteful over-cooling now felt on buses and everywhere else. Above all, I’m for those measures that save countless lives and reduce fuel use and emissions—namely, lowering the speed limit and supporting mass transit and passenger train service.
Ah, but do give your annual meeting a chance. Bullet voting is “worth a try,” agrees Mary Ann Rothman, president of the New York Council of Co-ops and Condos. Only vote for the candidate or candidates you really want elected, especially if they’re not on the board’s slate.
And lest we forget, so much is owed the council and especially Rothman and the late, deeply missed Martin Karp for their tireless efforts in obtaining more equitable real estate taxes for co-ops and condos.
And here’s to us co-op/condo dwellers working harder to obtain more equitable and cooperative conditions in our homes and yes, thanking our boards when they act/rule accordingly.
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