Slated Co-Op Lease Expiration Prompts Awareness Campaign

Photo: Rochdale Apartments, the largest student co-op, has a lease set to expire at the end of the spring semester: students are organizing a campaign to gather support for the co-op
Emma Lantos/Staff
Rochdale Apartments, the largest student co-op, has a lease set to expire at the end of the spring semester: students are organizing a campaign to gather support for the co-op

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Facing the expiration of the lease agreement for the largest co-op in the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC), co-op community members have organized the "Save Rochdale: Save Our Home" campaign.

Although discussions with the university about Rochdale Apartments' lease renewal are still forthcoming, students are gathering support in anticipation of what they see as a potential threat to the co-op.

BSC members said some UC officials have indicated that they may be looking into "other options" for the use of the Rochdale property, though no formal announcement has been made.

"It's hard to gauge at this point in time how serious this is," said BSC President Palmer Buchholz.

However, Christine Shaff, communications manager for the campus's facilities services, said no formal decisions about the lease have been made.

Rochdale, which houses 259 UC Berkeley students, sits on UC-owned land that is currently leased for $1 per year. The apartments' lease is slated to end at the end of the spring semester, and BSC filed for a 30-year extension of the lease on Oct. 12.

According to a Berkeley Student Cooperative statement, the university provided BSC with a statement of intent in 2007 claiming that they would renew the lease. The university extended the lease of another UC-owned co-op, Cloyne Court, in 2005.

Still, students said they wanted to raise awareness about Rochdale in the event that the university considers ending the lease.

Members of the co-op's publicity campaign have hosted several meetings, gathered signatures for a petition and circulated an online invitation to a Nov. 5 rally to increase publicity for Rochdale. The event page for the rally on Facebook had at least 896 confirmed guests as of press time.

Alex Lemberg, vice president of external affairs for Rochdale Apartments, said the group's goal is to emphasize that Rochdale houses a large group of disabled students and financially disadvantaged students.

Buchholz said while nothing has been decided, educating the community and UC officials about Rochdale's importance is crucial.

"We really hope that this will be a smooth and painless process," she said. "We could be jumping the gun on this process, but we would rather start a campaign and not lose our home."

The Berkeley City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday in support of Rochdale's lease renewal. The ASUC Senate also passed a resolution in support of the co-op at its meeting on Wednesday.


Contact Jamie Applegate at [email protected]

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