About a week ago, many of us got a threatening letter from our property manager, Sara Rudnik. And many of us are still wondering what to make of it. “You may be fined by the City for non compliance.” Say what?!
Well, here ya go. Here’s the long and short of it…
By way of background, as the letter underscored and as we covered here 12/18, we failed the Lifesafety Evaluation miserably. Total débâcle and avoidable train wreck aside, now we gotta pay the piper. That in mind, one issue of the many we were cited for, was the dysfunctional or altogether missing self-closing corridor door mechanisms. That failure is widespread. By some estimates, it effects some 144 doors or 25 percent of the units here. Bottom line: Rudnik speculated that a fine might exceed $500 for each. Good guess: That’s more than $72,000.
The problem and resulting threat begs a few questions. Here we answer them.
Is the threat real? – No, well at least not to you directly. The City is proceeding directly to court against the owners of the property, i.e. the Association. According to Elizabeth Scanlan, Director of Code Development at the Department of Buildings, “The citation is against the building NOT individual homeowners.”
So let’s again break down the exposure: As we reported 12/18, the key to satisfying the Building Department is just “total compliance.” So you’re thinking: I was speeding; I was pulled over; and the cop gave me a warning. Not likely here. The widely publicized cynic’s perspective is that this is a Rahm-led City fundraising endeavor. Furthermore, that cop isn’t going to let you off with a warning whilest you’re still crusing for a brusin and still apparently under the influence. Metaphorically speaking, of course, we apparently are.
That said, there are going to be fines issued for our existing violations. And according to Scanlan: “Fines for anything less than total compliance at the time of adjudication will be at the discretion of the judge. Other than that, we don’t know.”
In summary: WE ARE gettin’ whacked; likely whacked BIG; but just not you personally.
Am I responsible for the door closer? – Yes. As per our Condo Declaration, “Limited Common Elements means a portion of the Common Elements serving exclusively one or more Units but not all the Units, including speciﬁcally, but not by way of limitation, storage lockers, any stairway, and such portion of the perimeter walls, floors, ceilings, doors, vestibules and entryways, and all associated fixtures and structures therein as lie outside the Unit boundary.” The door closers are on the inside.
Why Rudnik’s threat? – Simple: It’s a lot easier for the board and management to threaten you then go to the homeowners with their heads in their hands, mea culpa. Keep in mind, this Lifesafety Evaluation screw-up was predictable, avoidable and NOT an isolated incident. According to one former board member: “I think our current board is terrified that people are going to connect the dots. Pushing the blame derails that, at least until the next time.”
Can the Association force me to be compliant? – You bet, especially when it comes to City Ordinances that involve safety. Our governing documents dictate that ALL alterations need to be compliant with City Code and Ordinances. Actually, if management would have done just that, we would not be in the mess we are in.
As we are all too aware, management has on numerous occasion done unit inspections. And frankly, that’s their job. That why we have (read pay for) two full-time engineers, and an extensive staff that supports them, and a prestigious management company to guide them.
Here, not only can the Association force me/you/us to be compliant, that system is exactly how a condo is supposed to work.
Then why doesn’t/didn’t management just take care of it? – The short answer is, we’re essentially broke and it’s not in the budget. In Ms. Rudnik’s words, “Unfortunately, due to the number of doors that need to be fixed, 111 E. Chestnut staff will not be able to perform this work in addition to their regular duties in maintaining the common areas of the association.”
If I just go ahead and fix it, am I then off the hook? – No. We are still going to get whacked by the City and that is still going to ultimately be paid by all the homeowners.
Regrettably, as we’ve answered a few questions here as to what, the question WHY gets writ large. The efficiencies of uniform management is the very essence of the condominium model. Take that away… and ya get this website for one. You likely get Glen Greene and Vince Scott unable to unload their units, too. Ya get chronic debt and a huge amount of unnecessary drama. Perversely, some also get bonuses, inside favors and leadership tenure. And that’s the real problem.
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