notes: Radish

Some notes on two posts about a property called Radish in Oakland that some folks bought and turned into a community housing space.

💸 Co-buying property with friends

This post describes how Radish bought their space in Oakland. They discuss:

This post repeated an idea I first read in the HSC guide and have seen several times since, where a smaller group first figures out the logistics to start the house, and then several more people join in later. As I said in some of my previous notes, this wasn't what I'd originally been thinking of doing, but I guess it makes sense? It seems like having fewer people coordinating on property buying would probably be easier. I just really want to help it not feel like the founders have more power or hold more sense of accountability to the house.

It was a bit jarring for me to go from reading about The Embassy, which had more anarchist politics, to read about a community home that had investors who don't live in the home as well as two residents who fully owned the LLC that financed the home.

Land ownership feels like a tricky thing for many reasons, but one thing I thought about a lot while reading this was the power dynamics that emerge around the people who have money to put into the house and the people who can't afford to buy property but live in the house.

I feel like there are all sorts of potentially bad-feeling situations you could get into. What if someone puts a lot of money into the house then moves out. Maybe they want the money back to live somewhere else, but the rest of the community wants to keep living there. Then what? I feel like these are important to talk about beforehand. Radish set things up such that they planned to sell the house 5-10 years after buying it, and also incentivized those buying the house by giving them yearly 5% returns until then, but I don't particularly want to do either of those things.

I don't really like the idea of someone not living at the house having some power over what goes on in the house because they're financially invested. (And if you don't give them any power or promise of returns, why would they invest? Maybe I'm too cynical.) But I also don't want people to only be able to live in the house if they can afford to buy a large portion of the property.

And THEN I got into a whole train of thought with my friend around rent-to-own. Maybe some share of folk's rent goes towards ownership of the house, and so whoever lives in the house is automatically buying back from those who lived there before. There are some competing incentives here -- those who've invested in the house want to get paid back and make profit (so they might want to be paid back quickly) but if you pay them back slowly then you're stuck with folks who don't live at the house but still have power from ownership.

Ok so maybe some proportion of all renting-to-own rent goes into a pool, and then the pool is distributed among the owners who no longer live there, and distributed proportionally to how much they own. But also, there are minimum payments per owner so that people who own only a small piece of the house can get paid off instead of getting like 3 cents a month :p

Anyways this was a fun thought experiment, but I'm sure other folks have thought more about this and come up with better systems.

🏡 Case study: The story of Radish

This post speaks more generally to how the Radish house was formed (more than just buying the property). It touches on the property search, renovations, how they manage finances, governance, and food.

One thing I really liked was that their property had a house, a set of apartments, and a common space with a kitchen and dining area.

We want a space that works for single people, couples, and also young families with a toddler or two. We wanted both standalone apartment units that could provide for more privacy (at higher cost) and bedrooms in a house that were less private (at lower cost).

It was neat to see they also did doocracy! (A system discussed in They had a system where they worked in pairs to own pieces of the logistics in getting the property fixed up, explicitly as an alternative to consensus. It's interesting to see how they decide what decisions are "reversible" or fine to not get consensus on - for example they picked a price limit for non-consensus purchases.

Other misc notes: