10 April 2011 Annual Meeting minutes


Unit In attendance Comments
101 Michael O'Neill
103 Chris Kalinsky
104 Matt Roller
106 Katie Douglas
203 Denali Van Ness
302 Charley & Meghan Traylor
303 Kevin Watts
304 Easton Richmond

Old Business

Thank yous

  • Kevin Connelly, for regularly doing… something… with the boiler. Making sure it doesn't blow up and kill us all.
  • Denali Van Ness, for testing the alarms and for getting the windows cleaned.
  • Holly Viola for helping out with building access and the windows, as well as doing the hard work to fix the damage the Board did to her security bars.
  • Kevin Watts for kicking off a energy efficiency assessments.
  • Bob Petersen for volunteering to handle hot water issues over Thanksgiving.
  • Chris Kalinski for regularly sweeping, raking and cleaning up the front of the building.
  • Matt Roller for providing the Board with background info on roof construction and access issues.

Reserve Study and Budget

Washington State law requires us to complete a reserve study every year so that potential buyers can understand the fiscal health of the property. Meghan worked with David Bach and Associates to update our existing Reserve study.

Collections actions

The Board's most important duty is making sure that the Association remains solvent both so that the Association can pays its bills and so that prospective purchasers can obtain financing (as financing is nearly impossible to obtain if the Association has more than 10% of owners delinquent in payment of assessments). This means that the Board must take firm action to ensure that owners pay their dues on time. Based on a reading of prior meeting minutes, the Board has taken a more casual position in the past. This Board has been more diligent in collection of dues, and strongly urges future bonds to take the same stance.

Generally speaking, the hiring of eCondoServices has resulted in consistent application of fines, accrual of interest regarding late payment of dues, filing of liens, and hiring of collections agencies.

The Board has also taken more aggressive action with respect to three owners who have become substantially more delinquent. All three owners had their membership in the association suspended with the new powers granted in the 4th amendment to the declarations passed last year.

This summer, the Board filed a small claims lawsuit against the former owners of unit 303 seeking collection of past due assessments. The owners of unit 303 settled out of court, agreeing to pay all delinquent assessments as well as the Association's legal costs.

The association also suspended Fannie Mae's membership in the Association after it foreclosed on 303, and on multiple occasions confiscated key boxes that Fannie Mae's real estate agents attached to the property until such time as Fannie Mae paid the monies that came delinquent after the foreclosure.

The association also dealt with another delinquent owner by demanding that the owner's mortgage holder pay the delinquent assessments, an action which was also successful. That owner has again become delinquent, and the Association is taking similarly direct actions.

Update to House Rules

The Board voted in September to amend the House Rules to prohibit smoking in the front entry area outside the building. Michael will update the rules and send them out to owners.

Insurance Investigation

As mentioned in the September minutes, the Board was concerned that there was insufficient insurance coverage. Charley investigated the matter deeply, and recommended that - aside from a minor increase in coverage, the building was sufficiently insured.

Repair and Replacement of Rear Stairwell / Special Assessment

The top landing of the rear stairwell has been collecting water. The north Seattle franchise of House Doctors that did the work went out of business, and is currently in litigation. The south Seattle franchise will make repairs to the top landing when we get a stretch of dry weather. Charley negotiated with House Doctors corporate to pay for the repair work, as it had been less than a year since the repair.

Updating Electrical Wiring in Common Areas

In the annual meeting last year, Michael brought up the issue of potentially dangerous electrical conditions in the aging knob-and-tube wiring in the common areas. Specifically, the insulation connecting lighting fixtures to the K&T disintegrated at a touch, exposing the hot wire all the way to the plaster and lathe. Michael did some research, and discovered that Knob and Tube wiring - the type of wiring used when the Gayle was constructed in the 1910s - has asbestos clothe insulation for the flexible wiring that connects lighting fixtures to the knob-and-tube wires. The insulation on the wires will bake and become brittle with heat, and our old lighting fixtures had no heat insulation to prevent this.

The Board hired Preservation Electric to disconnect all Knob and Tube wiring in the Common Areas and run new Romex wiring into the building, as well as install new Arts & Crafts style fixtures. House Doctors handled patching the The work was completed in the spring.

The exterior lighting fixtures were supposed to have light sensors, according to Thomas Lighting's website. They did not. As such, the front lights no longer automatically turn off in the daylight or turn on at night. So now they're left on at all times. Michael installed a timer on the switch controlling those lights, but had trouble programming it, so it's currently not being used.

There was some concern that the lightbulbs themselves would be stolen. This has not happened, which is a pleasant surprise.

From the perspective of individual units, it is highly likely that every unit in the building has some Knob & Tube wiring. As this old wiring presents a risk of fire, the Declarations require that owners are obligated to maintain their property. All owners should start planning to replace all knob and tube wiring in their units over the next four to five years. The estimated cost to upgrade a 1-BR with 100% knob-and-tube wiring is $2,000, a studio $1,000. If our insurance rates are increased due to the presence of knob-and-tube wiring, those units that addressed the issue will not be responsible for paying the increased insurance costs until such time as all units have upgraded wiring.

Window Replacement

In the fall of 2010, the Board replaced all of the windows along the western wall of the building with new windows from Renewal by Andersen. There were two types of windows available:

  • Series 2 windows, which are a basic, single-hung replacement window. The Association paid for the purchase and installation of these windows.
  • Series 1 windows, which are double hung and tilt in for cleaning. The additional cost of these windows were paid for by the three units that choose to purchase them, 101, 103 and 201. Unit 103 chose to have windows on the northern wall replace at 103’s cost as well. The Association will not pay at a future date for the cost of 103’s windows on the northern wall.

Water Heater

Our water heater failed in November of this year.

At the time, the Board believed our existing water heater was leased from Seattle City Light seventeen years ago in 1993. Seattle City Light told the Board it ceased offering this service a decade ago, transferring ownership of the leased water heaters to its customers. After we replaced the old heater, we discovered that we had actually leased it from PSE, but I'm not sure anyone in the building was aware of this—I know I was not. The water heater rental was not documented in the meeting minutes of 1993.

Regardless, our water heater provided service for far longer than it should have. Most commercial "tank" water heaters are expected to have a useful life of six to eight years, and new models only carry a three-year warranty. If you or your tenants woke up some morning in the past five years and didn't have enough hot water to take a full shower (this happened to me every six weeks or so), it's because our water heater was beginning to fail.

We engaged Fast Water Heater company to install a new water heater. We purchased a hybrid system comprising a tankless, on-demand water heater with a storage tank. The combined system will have a 20-year warranty, and should last for even longer than that. The on-demand heater will also lower our monthly natural gas bills for hot water, potentially by upwards of 30%, or a guesttimated $360 to $450 /year, as well as reduce the building's greenhouse gas footprint.

The Board voted to levy a special assessment totaling $4,000 to cover roughly half the cost of the new water heater.

Unit No Assessment due 1-Jul-2010
101 $340.00
102 $311.60
103 $224.80
104 $211.60
105 $327.20
106 $226.00
201 $358.80
202 $323.60
203 $229.20
204 $211.60
301 $376.40
302 $347.20
303 $247.20
304 $264.80
Total $4,000.00


We had some rather serious challenges with a blockage in our steam heating system that prevented heat from reaching three units. Reed Wright, our boiler repair firm, had difficulty establishing the source of the problem, leaving the only option of turning up the pressure substantially. This caused the system to bang loudly at early hours, but once the pressure was turned down a week later, this largely resolved the issue.

The current board recommends that the new Board have a mandatory, building wide radiator inspection this summer to make sure the bleeders are working, that there are no leaks from valves, etc. It has also been several years since the Board checked that it has emergency access keys to all units. This would be a good time to address this as well.

The current board also notes that it did not get Reed Wright in to service the boiler in the summer as Reed Wright recommends.

The tenants in one of the affected units put the entire building at risk by using their gas stove to provide heat to their unit.

Landlords should be aware that Seattle city law requires that any disruptions to heat or hot water must be resolved within 24 hours. The Association is NOT explicitly bound by this requirement. Landlords must take immediate action to restore heat and hot water, even if the Association is unable to do this. Landlords should be prepared to provide emergency heating.

Unresolved Issues from 2010

Trunk wire anchor

One of the fixtures that anchors the trunk wire (providing service to the entire building) onto the brick façade of the building (near the windows to 203) has been loose for over three years. If the second anchor came loose, it could interrupt electrical service to the entire building. Preservation Electric could not repair this, and stated that the City should take care of this. No action was taken to call in the city.

Building Boundaries and 304 Belmont Avenue

Last year, Michael noted that 304 Belmont Avenue is encroaching on our property, which extends to the edge of the walkway leading to the entrance of the rear rental unit of 304 Belmont Ave. This means that the fences along north and south boundaries of 304 Belmont extend onto the Gayle’s property. This spring, the owner of 304 Belmont Avenue constructed a new gate to replace the old arched entryway to the rear rental unit. This new fence encroaches even further onto our property.

Michael attempted to contact the owner via email, but received no reply. (The owner is named Shawn McDonald, and there is a Shawn McDonald in the Microsoft Global Address List—Michael hoped they were one and the same).

Minor Projects

In September, the Board voted to set aside $5000.00 in the Gayle budget for small projects throughout the next year. With the problems with the hot water heater, these projects were delayed.

The potential projects the board discussed included:

  • replacing the antiquated entry intercom,
  • placing insulation in the crawlspace in the ceiling of the third floor,
  • placing bike racks for owner use in the basement,
  • a simple landscape project for the front of building, and
  • a security fence to reduce foot traffic and loitering in walkway between the Gayle and adjacent apartment building to the south.

The Board decided not to put in insulation because a) we could not verify that all knob and tube wiring had been disconnected, and b) Meghan and Charley stated that there was no lack of heat on the top floor.

The Board decided to prioritize the intercom over landscaping and a security fence. The hot water heater interfered with these plans.

New Business

New Amendments

The current Board would like to propose a new set of amendments for discussion. Amendments attached.

Energy Efficiency Review

Next Phase of Window Replacements

Election of New Board

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