Past and present Citybikes owners in legal tussle over assets, shop’s future

Citybikes storefront on SE Ankeny. (Photo: Save Citybikes Facebook Group)
Flyer created by Brian Lacy.

A dispute between current and past co-owners of Citybikes Workers Cooperative has turned into a messy legal battle that will decide the future of the storied institution.

Founded in 1986, Citybikes has been a cornerstone of Portland’s cycling scene with its “mothership” location on Southeast Ankeny near 20th and its former Annex location (now closed) 12 blocks west. The shop grew right along with Portland’s reputation as the best cycling city in America. By 2008, Citybikes expanded to a second location, doubled its retail space, and had 25 workers and owners at its peak.

Citybikes pioneered a DIY, self-reliance, bike education ethos that remain strong currents in Portland to this day. In 1992, when a veteran bike mechanic named Brian Lacy showed up to work at Citybikes, he spent most of his days out on the street helping kids fix their bikes. It was such meaningful work it inspired him to create the Community Cycling Center two years later — a nonprofit that thrives three decades after Lacy opened it on Northeast Alberta Street.

Now Lacy and a group of other former Citybikes worker-owners say a mutiny is afoot.

“Citybikes Workers Co-op is being looted!” screams the headline of a statement signed by Lacy, along with two of the five original founders Roger Noehren and Mike Kennedy, and longtime past co-owners Sara Stout and Peter Young. They say three of the shop’s four current owners are “trying to sabotage Citybikes for personal gain” and “seek to rewrite or absurdly interpret Citybikes’ bylaws to put in motion their theft of assets plan.” Flyers have been printed, there’s an online petition, a GoFundMe, and a “Save Citybikes” Facebook group.

Brian Lacy. (Photo courtesy Brian Lacy)

Lacy sees the effort as nothing short of a life or death struggle for the beloved shop — and he blames the trio of current owners for trying to kill it and profit off the carcass.

According to Lacy, the problems started back in March when he and others got wind of a plan by three of the four current worker-owners — Bob Kamzelski (who also owns Bantam Bicycle Works), Bryce Hutchinson, and Claire Nelson — to dissolve the shop and “swindle” all remaining assets among the four current owners.

You might think an bike shop that specializes in cheap parts doesn’t have much in the way of assets; but Citybikes owns those two buildings on SE Ankeny outright. Lacy estimates they’re worth about $2.5 million.

Noel Thompson, the one current worker-owner who has split from the other three, says Kamzelski just wants the money. Thompson has been with Citybikes for 25 years and says when Kamzelski called a special meeting back in March he suspected something sinister was afoot. Thompson had received a letter prior to the meeting request from Kamzelski’s lawyer Brian Jolly that stated an intention to dissolve Citybikes and split the assets among the four current worker-owners.

“My main concern is that this thing is failing. I just think it’s time to move on.”

– Bob Kamzelski, current Citybikes worker-owner and president
Bob Kamzelski in 2013. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“According to Oregon law, it only takes a two-thirds majority to make a decision on dissolution, but our internal policy is full consensus,” Thompson shared in an interview. “I think [the other current owners] saw that and set up a special meeting to force that vote. They were going to have the meeting without me even knowing … to do it quick and dirty and not let anyone in the community know what was going on.”

Kamzelski, who’s been a worker-owner for seven years and is listed as president of Citybikes in the shop’s most recent filing with the State of Oregon, denies much of what is being said about him. He says he simply wants to talk have an honest discussion about the future of the co-op. Kamzelski feels Citybikes is on life-support and he’s worried if he doesn’t act fast, there will be no remaining assets to distribute.

In an interview with Kamzelski Thursday, he said he has no intention of rewriting bylaws or closing the shop. At least not right now.

“If the business shutters, and we don’t actually have a plan at the moment to do that,” Kamzelski said. “As officers of the business we are legally required to distribute whatever assets are left over, as our articles of incorporation say. And that’s exactly what we intend to do.”

Asked if he thinks Citybikes’ assets should be distributed to the four existing worker-owners or among the 50 others that have been worker-owners since the co-op started like Lacy, Noehren and others want, Kamzelski said it’s up to lawyers to decide.

“If that’s their interpretation, I mean, they should probably get a lawyer and have a lawyer figure it out for them because I’m not a lawyer and none of these other people are lawyers. I don’t think we’re qualified to actually make that decision.”

Citybikes articles of incorporation from 1990.

Citybikes’ 1990 articles of incorporation (right) state that only shareholders should receive assets upon dissolution. Since shares are held only by the current owners (“Class A shareholders”), it appears as though Kamzelski has a case that, as the articles state, he and the other three current owners should, “share equally in all cooperative assets.” There is a clause that “excess assets” to go all present and former shareholders, but that appears to be triggered only after shareholders receive their distribution. And if “all assets” were paid out to shareholders, there would be no “excess”.

Interpretations of old documents are at the crux of this disagreement. On one hand there are the intentions and spirit that have sustained the organization without need to worry about bylaws and articles of incorporation. On the other are actual words on paper. Even Lacy admits their bylaws and other legal documents are outdated and aren’t up to dealing with this type of dissention among the ranks. “They were created in a more innocent time,” Lacy shared. “Tim [Calvert, a founder] and Roger didn’t wonder back then, ‘How would we deal with sabotage?'”

Shawn Furst, a business consultant who specializes in co-ops, told me that, when it comes to asset distribution, typically they’d be spread beyond current owners. “When they dissolve, they pay off all their debts, then they split rest of assets based on how many hours each worker has worked for the co-op over the life of the organization,” she explained.

Furst said when disagreements like this pop up, it can be very challenging. “In democratic organizations, since newer voting members wield equal power to more established workers, the group can move towards ill-considered decisions. This is something I’ve observed before. At the same time, like any business, co-ops sometimes need that new fresh perspective. In democratic organizations, it’s important for the whole group to work collaboratively to serve the needs of the workers, customers and community as a whole to make hard decisions.”

Based on the tenor of comments from people I’ve talked to in the past few days, collaboration seems unlikely.

“We’re going to rebuild Citybikes. We don’t want it to die.”

– Brian Lacy, Citybikes former worker-owner

Beyond the disagreement over how assets should be split, there’s also a difference of opinion about whether or not Citybikes is even worth saving.

Sara Stout spent 15 years as a worker and owner at Citybikes. “I think it’s a shame the current owners are trying to close the shop,” she said. “It’s valuable for people who use it and it’s a community resource. Why close it?” Stout wishes Kamzelski would just move onto other things if he doesn’t want to keep the shop open. “I’d rather the owners just take their leave. To close it seems like a waste.”

The way Stout sees is, “It was just sort of understood” that Citybikes would last forever and it was never thought of as “somebody’s business.” The idea that just four current owners would benefit from any potential payout feels very wrong to her.

While Kamzelski told me he has no plans to force a closure of the shop, he was being coy. Later in our conversation, when I asked him about the special meeting he called with Thompson in March, Kamzelski acknowledged he and the other two owners who support him wanted to discuss shutting the business down. It was only when Thompson “delayed and deferred” that conversation for two months and then began sending harassing letters, Kamzelski says, that he hired a lawyer.

While he said it’s not a “happy situation,” Kamzelski feels the best way forward is to close Citybikes for good.

“It’s not a viable business anymore,” he said. “We’re looking at a loss of tens of thousands of dollars every year and we’ve been in decline for the last 10 years.” Kamzelski paints a dark picture, saying there’s not enough money in the business to hire more people, to make much-needed building repairs, or to pay anyone much above a poverty range. He says the shop is going to go bust regardless of what happens.

In addition to the four worker-owners, there are only two non-owning workers on staff at the moment — barely enough people to keep working hours.

Citybikes old Annex location on SE 8th and Ankeny.

“I realize Citybikes has served this community for 32 years, but my main concern is that this thing is failing,” Kamzelski said. “If we don’t shut the business down soon we will go into default. We have mortgages and bills to pay. Summer is usually the busiest time for a bike shop but even now our account is empty. It’s been a very successful run and I’ve been here for a third of it. I just think it’s time to move on. Other shops are closing. It’s a very hard time to run a bike shop.”

Thompson, Lacy, and others strongly disagree. Stout said if the business needs cash they should sell the old Annex building on SE 8th and Ankeny.

Thompson knows times are tough right now, but he thinks Citybikes can make a comeback. “I feel positive about it. While a lot of shops have been closing down, we’re on a busy commuter route, we own our shop. I can’t imagine that if we had the right people in there we wouldn’t sustain ourselves.”

For Thompson, Lacy, and founder Roger Noehren, the “right people” no longer includes Kamzelski. They want him to leave.

“I have no doubt that Bob (whom I have a favorable opinion about otherwise) was/is unhappy working at Citybikes, so rather than just leaving and focusing on his frame building business, hatched his plan to dissolve the co-op and abscond with a quarter of the assets,” Noehren shared with me via email this morning.

And Lacy said they’re demanding the “termination” of Kamzelski and Bryce Hutchinson (they believe Claire Nelson is on the fence).

“I know it’s rather bad-bloodish the way we’re coming at this,” Lacy said. “But if you [speaking to Kamzelski] would have followed procedures properly and been respectful of what you signed up to do when you became an owner, none of this would be happening. At this stage, given that our cordial attempts to communicate have fallen on deaf ears, you need to go away. There’s been too much damage done for too long. So off you go.

And we’re going to rebuild Citybikes. We don’t want it to die.”

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David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

The tenor of the discussions, or lack of them, remind me all too much of the petty bickering of our bike coop here in Greensboro NC, or the one in Durham, or pretty much any bike coop when you get right down to it. Depressing but oh so familiar.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Hmm “petty bickering” is not a phrase that comes to mind when one person chooses to violate duties they agree to uphold in an effort to get a lawyer rather than at least start with talking it with through with all effected parties.

Standing up to theft does. Working to salvage and rebuild what once was a and still is to a lesser degree positive part of the community.

May things go well for us both here in pdx … and back in NC.

JD
JD
21 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

My question remains: Why don’t Bob (and Bryce and Claire) just quit working at Citybikes instead of trying to dissolve the business as a whole? I was a worker-owner when the “we” of Citybikes bought the 1914 Ankeny building in the mid-2000s. I remember the sentiment of the worker-owners at that time, at least in my mind, was that we were stabilizing CB’s future within Portland’s dramatically escalating rental market. We, the then worker-owners, worked together with our varying skills and resources to make that purchase happen for the greater benefit of the business–a “pay-it-forward” gesture. I cannot imagine thinking of the building and business as mine, especially without considering and consulting with the former worker-owners. I wonder why if Bob (and Bryce and Claire) were not there to purchase the buildings/start the businesses–and they never paid out the former worker-owners for these investments–why should they profit off the dissolution of these assets disproportionately? For reference, a quote from Bob’s lawyer’s letter to Noel reads, “This letter is to provide formal notice to you that our clients intend to wind up the business, liquidate its assets, and distribute the net proceeds to the four of you.”

Additionally, the larger issue for me is the reduction of Citybikes to just saleable assets. As a young queer woman, Citybikes’ apprenticeship program and community classes were instrumental in giving me the confidence to learn mechanical skills and work in what I had experienced as a very exclusive boys’ club bike scene. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to learn not only how to repair bikes, but also how to run a business. Honestly, the business skills I learned (being a part of different finance, social investment, physical plant, community service, and training committees as well as practicing the skill of cooperation) really advantaged me when I decided to go back to school and start a new career. When working at Citybikes no longer worked for me, I left. I didn’t try to take the opportunity to learn, make a living, and give back to the bike community away from other people who could benefit as I had.

MC
MC
21 days ago
Reply to  JD

I think there is quite a bit of moral/ethical outrage about the strictly legal/business interpretation of CB’s bylaws w/o any consideration of or consultation with former worker-owners, which you & others have stated, made investments in the Co-op.

Thank you for sharing about your experience there too. Not only do Co-ops & collectives provide valuable work experience, they’re often the few places around town where the culture isn’t all white, cis-gendered, hetero-normative male oriented. Co-ops & Collectives tend to be a bit more inclusive.

I learned a lot just attending People’s Board meetings over the years.

It makes me really angry to think that Bob can just take all of that away from the community and from future generations.

Lance
1 month ago

It all makes sense now. They stopped selling bike and to this day they only let one person in at a time and when you are in, they won’t let you look at the inventory. Every other shop in town lets people come in and shop. I love this show so much. My kids know this as our neighborhood bike show. If an owner is unhappy, they should leave and let others take over. This is just wrong in so many ways. At least I now know never to do business with any business owned by Kamzelski in the future.

X
X
1 month ago
Reply to  Lance

That is approximately what the signs say but in fairness the actual operation is pretty close to the January 2020 mode.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  Lance

Lance,
Lots of people can be in the shop at one time now. It may be Bob can say he’s sorry and learn his lesson. His bike building skills are amazing and I’d love to see him thrive in that or other capacities where he can’t act autocratically.

He’s just NOT the right person to have influence over this worker’s coop.

Lance
22 days ago
Reply to  Lance

In case anyone is still reading this…

As I mentioned in my post, I love this bike shop. I have gone here for around 20 years. I took wheel building classes here back in 05. I went by the shop to give them some work and show that I want them to stay and Kamzekaki said, as I walked in the door “are you Lance?… I don’t like what you are saying online and you can leave as you are not welcome in this shop anymore”.

Really? My comment was one of the most supportive comments on citybikes coop. I have been hearing from friend for years how they will never go in because of how they are treated. I’m always saying to give them another shot. And this is what I get?

He is doing everything he can to sink this shop. How many others has he don’t this directly or indirectly to? Have the current owner wondered why women don’t come in any more?

Now I don’t care if they close, but I do hope the prior owners, that have put so much into this shop, fight to make sure he doesn’t get to just walk way with the proceeds from the buildings.

MC
MC
22 days ago
Reply to  Lance

I’m still following & reading all posts. Well, that’s a pretty shitty move by Bob. I also don’t know how 1 of 4 co-equal owners can make the on-spot sole decision to ban you from the store.

I’m sure if you went in on a Saturday, when Noel is working by himself, you’d be welcome to come in & support the shop.

If you also happen to have recently returned from a bike trip to Eugene, we’ve a mutual friend, but have never met.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
19 days ago
Reply to  Lance

Rather than hope the shop closes bc of one guy’s greed, consider joining us for friendly- but-firm direct actions on the streets and occupying the shop to confront their position to stop it/ step one to return it to its former strength?

We’re here to aid and abet such activism.

YallKnowWho
YallKnowWho
1 month ago

Former non-owner employee here. Citybikes has been dying for years. None of the three owners who want to close the place are evil or money-grubbing. They’re just reading the writing on the wall. I feel for Noel, but he’s a co-owner of a co-op and has been outvoted. Let Citybikes die.

Old Potato
Old Potato
1 month ago

It sounds like everybody griping about what the current owners are considering doing is no longer associated with the business. I don’t understand why a person who was involved with the co-op for a year or two 25 years ago should get to say what the current owners do.

BatiyaKog
BatiyaKog
1 month ago
Reply to  Old Potato

Perhaps because a number of former owners worked therre for far longer than “a year or two.” In fact, some of us worked there for nearly two decades before we got too old to keep going. The point of a workers’ co-op is to take care of its workers, including those who put in years of sweat equity for as long as possible.
The challenge is trying to do that in a capitalist economy, where it truly is every man for himself. The current owners may get their way in the end, but in the process they will end up looking like the baron robbers in the story.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Old Potato

The reason we past owners have a say is that we care about worker cooperatives. The only reason there are assets, both 1) as a community service and 2) as an enterprise that owns real estate, is thanks to all the prior owners building it up through the decades.

The “We Own It” trope is literal and applies to ALL the owners. This is why there are multiple clauses in its legal and operation documents to require worker cooperative administration and grievance procedures. Not autocratic scheme hatching.

bbcc
bbcc
1 month ago

Yeah I love the idea of CityBikes to my core, but they’re the worst to customers. Noel & Claire are pretty kind, but those other two emanate a how can I get you out of here as fast as possible vibe so strongly, I literally have to psych myself up just to go in. I’m a step away from talking to myself in the mirror, going “you deserve this shifter upgrade, don’t let them talk you out of it.”

It’s baffling to me that they say it’s just a bad time to be a bike shop. They’re a bad bike shop right now! They do no community outreach like CCC, they don’t work with you & try to be helpful like River City/Metropolis/Golden Pliers/Gladys/Sellwood/etc.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  bbcc

bbcc,

Citybikes used to do all kinds of community outreach. It is supposed to according to its policies. There’s even a section called “Advertising / Social Investment” for just such purposes.

Too much trust, not enough oversight by past board members, some bridges burnt over leftist political disagreements gone to unwarranted doxxing … these are a few of likely other reasons why CB is in the state it’s in now.

There are a few who want to kill it, and more ppl that want to save and rebuild it. The point of the community outreach is to invite feedback of any kind, and, if the response is “let’s rebuild it” there are ppl ready to do just that. If the reverse is ask for, then we’ll be seeing Bob in court to at least not let them gut it for the four current owners.

In 9 days of passive appeals, the Go Fund Me has brought in over $400, and the petition petition has some 40 signatures. So it seems the initial tide is to save it.

We’re rooting for a positive outcome, even if we have to weed out some dirty dealers first.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian

Oversight, accountability. reporting and plans to achieve goals & serve the mission is required for most any organization to succeed. I say most, b’cuz dumb luck is always a possibility.

I think CB is very much worth saving & rebuilding. PDX has lost quite a few bike shops in the past couple of years.

My LBS owner said that he thought it was a good time to close b’cuz he anticipates the the next few years to be a rough ride for the entire bike industry.

Sounds like a good time for restructuring & rebuilding a treasured community asset.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

Yes. Refurbushing used bikes and education services marketed well should be only increasing in need.

PTB
PTB
1 month ago
Reply to  bbcc

Customer service has been spotty since the late 90s. There’s been folks here in the past I hated dealing with. It’s pretty bad to feel anxious about going into a shop for fear of who might be working. I haven’t been into CB in easily a decade.

Benjamin
Benjamin
1 month ago

I was a mechanic at Citybikes for a couple of years, starting about 8 years ago. At the time all 4 current owners mentioned in this article already worked there. I like all of them, would work with any of them again. Just not at a co-op.

My perception at the time I worked there was that the business was failing. Big expenses, loans to get through the winter. Reputation as “the cheap shop.” Endless meetings because lots of conflicting opinions with equal weight meant important decisions weren’t made. The fundamental problem with the organization was that there was no way to determine a path forward after their 00’s bike boom success. They did nothing to stay relevant as bike culture matured around them.

So Citybikes was shrinking even then; today’s situation shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. It seems like it is probably a wise choice for a failing business to call it while there are still assets to cover the liabilities. The way that happens is up to the bylaws of the organization and the lawyers.

I think Peter, Tim, Brian and whoever else should put up- buy back in and make Citybikes relevant again. Do the work. Let Noel keep on keepin on. The time to save Citybikes was years ago, but maybe you can pull it out. I know Bob, Bryce, and Claire. They aren’t greedy or malicious. They’re making the right call.

Jawn
Jawn
1 month ago
Reply to  Benjamin

Yes. Your comment is a window into the inner workings of Citybikes.
Viva la Bob, Bryce and Claire.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Benjamin

Benjamin, I’m glad you’ve had good experiences with Bob, Bryce and Claire. I agree with you that Citybikes has not been meeting the challenge to change for a long while. That said, while Bob claims to just want to talk, the reality is very different. An owner’s role is to support the health of the organization, not avoid responsibilities and take actions that sabotage it.

At any moment Bob could step forward and say let’s meet with a mediator. I’m sure Noel and us past owners would welcome the dialogue.

Benjamin
Benjamin
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

Where were you this past ten years as Citybikes declined? Where were the other former owners who are now up in arms? The business has been failing, nobody fixed it, this is the result. You don’t have a stake, they don’t have a stake, and turning to the media to control the narrative about how it goes down feels shady.

Phil McRevis
Phil McRevis
1 month ago
Reply to  Benjamin

The current “owners” were never supposed to actually own it. They were supposed to be acting as temporary or long-term stewards of the co-op. That’s what owners of a community co-op are. They aren’t entitled to any profit from closing the business, and they shouldn’t be able to decide to close it. If they don’t want to do it anymore, and they’ve been running it into the ground — intentionally or not — they should step away and allow others to run it successfully and as though they cared about it. *** Moderator: deleted last sentence ***

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Benjamin

Benjamin, you bet that in hind sight I’m feeling remiss for not being more involved then. Life’s busy, and, had there been an advisory board such that prior owners can better support current owners, this issue might not ever happened.

We turn to media to give the community a heads up to get involved if they (and you of course) want to put supportive pressure on Bob to at least abide by the same rules and policies of other Citybikes owners, not hide behind a lawyer that tells him what he wants to hear. One side of Bob’s mouth says ‘we just want to talk while the other side says ‘hire a lawyer to fight mine’.

Isn’t that what looks and feels shady? We think so, and I hope despite all that’s gone wrong with how past and present owners have failed, that you’ll not so much wish it to die, but to recognize the essential mission and function of Citybikes, and to support it being healed and made better protected from future threats.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

Very well said Brian! I think the crux of the issue is that there’s more people who want to see Citybikes survive & thrive and one or two who want to dissolve it, take what they can from it and run without any consideration to the former worker-owners and the community that helped build up what they’re siting on.

Suburban
Suburban
1 month ago

“Profit off the carcass” is a very normal business practice. That place changed my brain and supplied my chains off and on since 1989. Bike culture and DIY bike love is a virus that will outlast us all.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Suburban

In a typical C or S corp structure I’d 110% agree. Organizations built for community-benefit: nonprofits, B corps and worker-owned enterprises are guided by and ask of their staff and boards unique characteristics. That’s why Citybikes’ policies unlike definitions of ‘who is an owner’ are so detailed: to entrust right- acting behavior on the part of current owners. Bob could have, should have and still could act in accordance with the duties required of owners. Hiding behind a lawyer and trying to force Noel and the past owners to do likewise is not fulfilling those duties.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

I moved to PDX in 1987 and CityBikes was always my bike shop of first choice, but the recent changes have been difficult for customers, so this all seems like a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Personally, I agree with Shawn Furst, that any assets remaining if and when closure occurs should be distributed among all former owner/employees; after all, it’s a coop and they all helped to grow it.

I will miss it when it’s gone. Another obituary?

🙁

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago

There’s an irony here when Bob suggests those of us who want to save Citybikes ‘get a lawyer’ to interpret these vague documents, when in the early spring of ’22 when Bob tried but failed to convince Noel of his interpretation and Noel suggested they go to a lawyer to discuss it, Bob refused to act cooperatively. Instead Bob found a lawyer to back his position and bailed on his duties as an owner of a co-op. That’s sabotage. At any moment he could invite a meeting. That’s the cooperative thing to do.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago

Dear BikePortland community. We past owners would much rather have civil conversation with Bob, but our initial and repeated inquires were met with ‘talk to our lawyer’ then ‘you’re harassing us’.

We argue rather than enriching a few lawyers who won’t and can’t settle this without the further expense of going to court, let’s get all our cards on the table and try to do what’s best for Portland’s cycling communities AND for the culture of worker-owned cooperatives.

Bob and Bryce have been harassing Noel for months. One low point is their making him work Saturdays alone. A few of us past owners started volunteering our time to help Noel, but once Bob learned of it he insisted it stop.

Some people have or grow the skills needed to work in and sustain the unique characteristics of worker-owned coops. Some people are not. The policies are very clear to not abuse the responsibilities of being an owner of a coop.

Bob is abusing those responsibilities.

With sufficient public admonishments, we hope to open the door they’ve closed to do what Bob says he wants to do: talk (guided by a mediator) about the future of Citybikes. Without lawyers. Because Bob hired Brian Jolly for only one reason: to shut down the business and divide the assets.

As a cycling community, thanks for adding your voice to help heal what’s wounded, not wish it death.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

Sorry for my curiosity, but I’m working with others to form a bike coop here in NC. Like many other “co-ops”, we are actually a 501c3 nonprofit, but eventually we would like to be a worker/owner cooperative.

What advice might you have in organizing a new bike cooperative?

Several people in this forum here have said that City Bikes had profitable years during its 32 years in operation. How were you able to maintain profits during those years without infusions of cash from members and/or grants? How would you describe your most successful business model?

So far our group has had massive arguments about business hours, recycling parts, parts purchases, our insurance, and numerous other mundane matters, with bitter resentments, people not talking to each other for months, and creating new programs expressly to keep certain people apart. Just getting our current building has caused no end of endless pointless arguments, an old sewage treatment plant now owned by our city parks dept, rent-free and free utilities, but yes, it does still stink every evening. How did you deal with the fact that everyone has an equal say on how things are run? Did some have a more equal say than others?

Thanks.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Like any democratically organized enterprise, the health of a democracy, union or business is as functional as the input of its members.

In Citybikes’ Policies & Procedures is essentially a pledge that applying for ownership members sign that they will do right by the coop.

In your case, recruiting a moderator and / or using books that you can as a group help learn and practice building trust / how to agree on consensus or majority bases.

It’s important to acknowledge that Americans typically are only taught look after number one, which makes forming and sustaining worker cooperatives and nonprofits more of a struggle. There are many ingrained mental /ego and ‘get a lawyer’ habits that we need to challenge ourselves about and unlearn.

This is especially why I’m moved to work with other past owners and current owners to learn and grow from this experience, rather than participate and its death.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

Thank you Brian, this is very helpful. Would you say that a bike coop is less about making money or providing a community service, but more about creating an internal community of like-minded bicyclists and building social capital through the organizational processes?

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

From the About page of the Citybikes web page.

“Citybikes promotes a life-style utilizing bicycles for transportation and recreation. We aim to provide dependable reconditioned bicycles, new and used components, accessories and the highest quality service at affordable prices to ensure that bicycling is accessible to the full spectrum of those that wish to ride. We minimize the impact our business has on the environment by reusing parts, reselling pre-owned bikes, and stocking locally-made products. We maximize the utility of bicycles as a viable alternative to motorized transport by providing products that increase a bike’s carrying capacity, and gear to protect riders from the natural elements and motor traffic. Citybikes exists to provide a livelihood for our workers. We adhere to a non-hierarchical personnel structure that focuses on all workers taking responsibility for the business. Through cooperation, we hope to make our work enjoyable and to get our jobs done efficiently by utilizing each others strengths.
We believe a work force consisting of people from varied backgrounds provides us with the strongest foundation for the informed decision-making. Citybikes hires people on the basis of the shop’s need, with gender balance and diversity as goals. Citybikes is a resource for information of all kinds regarding cycling, bicycles and cooperative business structure.”

Shawn F
Shawn F
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Hi David. It seems like you might benefit from the peer and technical advisor services of the US Federation of Worker Co-ops and its worker co-op members. Check out this page for resources and contacts: https://www.usworker.coop/clinic/

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Shawn F

Thanks for the info on US Fed of Worker Co-ops. I didn’t know such a thing existed.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

The balance of financial assets “vs” social assets depends on the leadership skills, products and/or services delivered, customer base, location etc. Here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley the local Goodwill (far as I’ve heard) had or has a CEO with a vision to upscale their brand, and in so doing, was or is pulling down 600K per year.

The retail cycling world is not like Goodwill, but for sure choosing how to bring in needed monies is essential.

There are also worker owned nonprofits. This would allow your group to apply for grants, accept donations and offer receipts, count volunteer hours as ‘credit’ to leverage when making grants “20 people have contributed 15 hours each helping kids learn how to keep their bike in good working order, a value of $500 toward our program goal or $25,000” (for example)

Check out sister programs (bikes, skate boarding, youth skills camps, etc.

Good luck, esp with finding the right ppl. Forming rules everyone has to abide by to build mutual respect is key.

BatiyaKog
BatiyaKog
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

“What advice might you have in organizing a new bike cooperative?“

Since you asked:

— the co-owning members had a relatively low buy-in, which they could pay incrementally out of their paychecks. When they chose to give up ownership, their buy-in was paid back to them incrementally over time.
— owners worked for an hourly wage, same as seasonal non-owners. In my final year as an owner I was earning about $14.25/hr, which was almost in line with the national “true living wage” at the time.
Most of us did not live high on the hog, and in fact, some of the longest-tenured owners had spouses or partners who helped with living expenses, which made it easier to stay at Citybikes longer.
— single owners simply could not earn enough to stay in Portland after the housing market boomed and tightened and rents went through the roof. We lost several good people this way, especially in the latter half of my tenure there.

— It’s my belief that worker co-ops work best when kept small, lean and agile. This is based on my experiences working in a co-op that grew to as many as fifteen owners and contracted to as few as eight during my tenure.

— I also believe that running a workers’ cooperative in today’s business climate would be even harder than it was when I joined in the mid-90s. There simply isn’t as much room for humane bylaws when the capitalist landscape surrounding the business, and each of its workers, is so brutal to hourly workers and so friendly to large corporate owners.

My advice to you would be don’t do it. Don’t start a worker cooperative just now. Find something else to fire your passion, to inspire your creativity and feed your soul while you earn your keep. Best of luck to you.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  BatiyaKog

This is super helpful! Thank you for replying to my question.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

My advice is to establish really good cooperative bylaws because that is the foundation that will either serve in the development of a successful co-op or it’s demise.

If you have other co-ops in the area, see if you can interview them and if they’ll share their bylaws with you to use as a template to work from.

One of the 7 Cooperative Principles is to, yeah, wait for it, cooperate w.other cooperatives & the community.

I’d also recommend engaging with a cooperative consulting service such as CDS – https://www.cdsus.coop/

I know a couple of very good people from a local food co-op who went on to work at CDS as consultants.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

 David Hampsten Agreeing and adding to what MC said upthread … The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives has terrific resources too.

Former Worker
Former Worker
1 month ago

I worked at Citybikes as a non-owner in 2016 and 2017, and this move does not surprise me, nor does the acrimony unleashed by the one disgruntled owner who doesn’t want to face the music. Citybikes was losing money when I worked there and the former owners (including one who is now involved in this farcical effort to shame people into operating a business ar a loss) did not have a plan to fix this. Reading the article, it seems they still don’t.

I think Citybikes had their niche slowly eaten away by other shops that began to offer commuting bikes, by the shift to e-commerce, by the shift to eBay for used parts, by shops like CCC that could offer used bikes at a cheaper cost, and finally by the shift amongst commuters to e-bikes.

I don’t think Citybikes can survive without a massive overhaul, and I dont blame the current owners who wish to close for looking at that, and deciding to close while there is still money to pay out their profit share dividend, and cover debts and other costs. I unfortunately don’t get the sense from the article that Noel or the other people trying to save Citybikes have any intention of doing the overhaul necessary to actually turn it profitable.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Former Worker

Former owner, with upwards of 2.5M in assets, there’s capital to work with to do exactly as you accurately describe: overhaul Citybikes.

While this article did not touch on how to rebuild it, be assured that Noel and enough of the past owners have more than pipedreams to work with the broader community and technical advisors to at least try to make Citybikes live up to its own mission again.

I invite those here in the comment section to consider feeding the side of you that seeks to right the wrongs Citybikes has done in the past, rather than condemn it for failing to live up to challenges that are easier for less democratically structured businesses to do.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

CityBikes did so much more for the bike culture in PDX than just sell bikes and bike parts and teach people how to work on their own bikes; among other things they hosted the 2002 Critical Mass ten year anniversary party during bike summer that year, and several years later the Car Free Day street closure and party, both at the annex location. I don’t think the current ‘owners’ actually understand the significance of the enterprise they have been entrusted with.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

1000% in agreement with your comment. Forward together,.

Outside Observer
Outside Observer
1 month ago

Sounds like a shitty situation. Hope they get it resolved. Honestly though, the founding members should have written a better operating agreement. In the end how things are managed is on signed paper. All this mess could have been avoided if the intent was clearly communicated on the legal paper. Having clear communication doesn’t diminish any “trust” you have with owners; it sets clear expectations.

Also, it is suspect that the current owners intend to only distribute assets amongst the current four. If their intentions are good and they respect the spirit of the co-op, it should be distributed amongst past and current owners, weighted on time invested.

It stinks real bad that Bob’s pushing for to split the assets amongst the four of them.

If this was a normal, capitalistic business I can see the logic. But this is a co-op and it seems obvious lots of sweat equity was invested by all past and present owners. The current owners (and the past as well) didn’t “buy” the business, so why are they entitled to 100% of the assets. Settle the business liabilities and then split the excess.

I get that if a business is no longer viable, you end it and reduce the liabilities as much as you can. But the fact Bob intends to only keep the assets for himself speak volumes. This situation wouldn’t smell
as much if the distribution was more well intentioned. Sure, the former owners will probably still complain, but at least the current owner’s motivation may be questioned differently. It would have been the difference between “oh, it is a sound business decision” versus “they are in it for the 7 figure of assets for themselves”. Follow the money…

Kathleen Parker
Kathleen Parker
1 month ago

This is the best reading of the situation so far. Thank you for your comment.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago

With up to 2.5M in assets, it’s not like there isn’t capital to address and correct what is and had been structurally weak in Citybikes. Thus the efforts of Noel and some of the past owners.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

There are other relatively recent examples of culturally significant PDX businesses being rescued from ‘progress’; a couple that come to mind are the Hollywood Theater and Movie Madness, but I’m sure the list is longer than that.

Joseph Knecht
1 month ago

Hello,
A sad day…For a long time Citybikes was (and is?) an important part of Portland’s cycling community, a place where I always felt that helping us cyclists get our bikes fixed at a reasonable price and learn also basic maintenance were important values and practices.
As a person who helped start several collectives and worker co-ops and was part of them for years this news is even sadder. We need more such places, more businesses and organizations where everyone’s voice is equally heard and taken into account, where decisions are made with mutual respect, hopefully by consensus. The common model of corporations and one owner deciding everything at the expense of workers and the Earth should be cast away and the sooner the better.
Would, should, could is always pointless though I wish that the by-laws were clear and addressed the possibility of conflict, greed by some members, etc. I know that when one starts a collective or a worker co-op trust and the belief that we will create a different model and avoid all the capitalist practices we despise are high, ignoring the fact that all of us, (some more, some less) have the imprint of the monster of capitalism, individualism at the expense of others, the “I want this and I want it now, no matter how others are affected” way of being and those are hard to get rid of. Add to that the prospect of a quick buck because of Portland’s crazy real estate market..money does very strange things to people, to some people especially.
I hope Citybikes continues and flourishes again, with the lessons from this last chapter learned and added to lessons of solidarity, community and caring which for many years the place embodies.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Joseph Knecht

From your written words to the minds and hearts of all readers here, and especially Bob, Bryce and Claire.

You nailed it, Joseph.

Daniel
Daniel
1 month ago

I was in serious negotiations to lease 734 SE Ankeny from Citybikes in 2017. The article doesn’t make this explicit, but the Annex building was closed then, and as far as I know has been vacant for the past 5 years.

I don’t have any comment on Citybikes’ internal politics, I don’t know much about it, but it’s wishful thinking to believe that they have $2.5 million in assets based off of the value of the Annex building. I had to back out of negotiations with Citybikes because, as far as I could tell, they’d never actually performed the necessary work required to permit the space to be used as anything other than light industry or office space.

It was useless as office space, and nobody (myself included!) would think that adding more light industry, which almost always requires truck traffic, to a popular bike thoroughfare would be a good idea. I wanted to make it into a music venue: doing so would require getting an assembly occupancy rating, and significant improvements to the space, but most crucially it would depend on the outcome of a conditional use review by the city – a process that takes months, costs a significant amount of money, and can be denied for a multitude of reasons.

This would have been simplified if Citybikes had already done a conditional use review, but they hadn’t; technically they were required to by zoning law before using the space for retail. They could get away with skirting zoning law for something like a bike shop, which is much closer to the spirit of the rules if not the letter, but I wasn’t going to be able to apply for a liquor license until after the results of the conditional use process.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

Yes….my first reaction was to the value of the buildings according to Lacy. Five minutes of on-line research by JM and a question about any relevant mortgages, would have made this whole discussion much more meaningful. Also, just the exposure to Mr. Lacy on this page (complaining about how a current employee is being treated) tells me that I would never want to negotiate with him.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Steve, 100% agree that financial data is needed as this moves forward. To date neither Bob or Noel have discussed the finance related threats and opportunities the current owners need to address.

What you describe as complaining about how Noel’s being treated is a misread of my actions. Only Noel is fulfilling the duties of an owner. I only took my current ‘terminate Bob’s ownership’ position after delving into the many ways his behavior is not only in violation of his duties but are outright behaviors of sabotage.

Maybe neither you or Bob would want to or be able to work on finding common ground, but that’s what sets worker-owned cooperatives apart. Like families, we are invited and challenged to do more than shut doors on difficult topics. We commit to dealing with them.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

You are clearly capable of accessing public records, and might even know enough about exiting liens, to tell us the actual value of the properties. And my comment about not wanting to negotiate with you stems from you incessant airing of dirty laundry in this public forum. Not the approach of someone who genuinely wants to resolve the issues.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

When kind and cordial inquiries are met with ‘talk to our lawyer” and “you’re harassing me” … I’m all ears as to what you would do when faced with the possibility of a community resource being snuffed out in the dark rooms of a board meeting, lawyers’ office our court room.

Do you not think the community has role to play in this situation at Citybikes? It’s been the community that has supported it through the decades.

Just bc one guy cooked up a plan and talked two other owners into trying to do it by using methods that violate several policies does not mean those of us who still do value Citybikes and believe in owner accountability not negligence is justifiable.

The important and actual numbers … both property and operational debts … we’ll be presenting soon. Soon as I know I’ll share what I can.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Steve, A financial update as promised upthread …

According to a reliable source, CB has only taken out some off season small loans to cover monthly exp. These are paid off soon as the season starts.

Properties are close to being paid off. Operations are solvent even in ’22, despite Bob and Bryce’s deliberate boycotting of required board meetings and blocking Noel’s and Claire’s interest in hiring season staff that could be part of the deep dip in this year’s rev, tho wet spring can account for some of that. Recent dailies are catching up to typical YTD rev.

In short, Citybikes is not a dying enterprise as Bob has claimed.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

Current assessed value of 734 SE Ankeny is $707K. Don’t know the address of the other property or any info about liens or mortgages.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Zillow says that the assessed value of the “Annex” building at 734-736 SE Ankeny is $1,174,610.
The “Mother shop” at 1912-1918 SE Ankeny is assessed at $614,300. I don’t know whether they factor in the major upgrades and renovations the co-op has done to the building – it’s in significantly better shape than when it was purchased in 2007.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

Portland Maps lists the same market value as Zillow for the Annex building and has a nice photo from about 20 yrs ago, that shows Sara’s beautiful mural paintings.
https://www.portlandmaps.com/detail/property/734-736-SE-ANKENY-ST/R150313_did/

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

Streetview sort of allows the same thing for different years and different customers, 2007 through 2019.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5221997,-122.6577482,3a,75y,228.82h,88.04t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1siP9dsWNI1cZs7a8M-8Lo-g!2e0!5s20070701T000000!7i3328!8i1664

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Thanks David … good times … may they come again..

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

The same link shows who owns all the land around this same property – one owner in fact.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

That’s a beauty. Echoes of Sara building the anti-theft ‘grid of savaged frames’ up at the CCC’s orig location @ 24th & Alberta.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

That’s their & Portland Maps’ estimate of the market value of the properties, presumably based on other similar properties nearby (not their assessed value).
I suspect that the $2.5 million for both properties was someone’s guesstimate.
We hope that the co-op will live on at the original & current “Mother shop” location.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

The 1914 SE Ankeny property appears to be worth around $425K, so total value of two properties is around $1.1K, not $2.5K, less any liens and/or mortgages. There would also be substantial capital gains involved with any sale, so now we’re looking at ‘value’ somewhere closer to $750K. I am not a real estate, or tax, guy, so take my info with a grain of salt. Still real money of course.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Thanks for the #s Steve S,

The numbers I gave Jonathan over the phone were from a figure another past owner had mentioned at more than one meeting, based I’m assuming, on some research, It may be way off. Soon we’ll get real numbers going, but our initial concern and efforts was to get the issue out into the community to mostly carrot / some sticks …. to stop Bob from trying to take further legal action.

Even if all this does is force Bob to agree to meet with a moderator and drop his lawyer that would be a fine step. We are not holding our breath, but stranger things have come to pass….

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

I’m not a real estate or tax guy either, but assessed value is not market value; these properties haven’t turned over for quite some time.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Please note that every other parcel on the block has one and only one owner according to Portland Maps: THE WEBSTER FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, PO BOX 11229 PORTLAND OR 97211-0229. I dare say they might be willing to put up quite a lot of money to get their hands on this last parcel, hence the $2.5 million value. Or is it a price? I forget.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

We’re still tryi9ng to figure this out. Noel has not mentioned that there have been any conversations or data exchanged between Bob and other owners. Noel and us past owners will be delving into this in the next 14 days.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

No question the misuse of the Annex is one of the ‘gotta dos’ to assess options going forward. We’re working on that and getting very clear about debt, P&Ls, seasonal operation costs etc.

With some effort, Citybikes can drastically improve its functions, if it’s run by people who will honor the duties required of cooperative worker-owners.

With enough community support, hopefully we can stop the abuses being committed by Bob and those he’s talked into joining him, and bring in people who will right the wrongs that have been going on before Bob even joined Citybikes.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

Fair enough, but people that want to change society by forming a co-op aren’t necessarily the best people to deal with the entrenched bureaucracy, and Portland’s bureaucracy is both deep and entrenched.

IMO, the best thing progressive-minded people can do in the upcoming year is to vote for City Charter reform; the commission form of government is both racist and regressive, and has been banned by the courts almost everywhere else in the USofA.

As for CityBikes, I’d be more than willing to step up if some reasonable specific actions are requested by the larger CityBikes ownership community. Mediation does sound like a better idea than court but there should still be a contingency plan if mediation doesn’t work.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

Barbara Bernstein had an excellent interview with Steve Moskowitz on her “Locus Focus” show on KBOO this morning, which raises a number of serious questions about the “City Charter reform” ballot measure, which people will vote on w/o fully comprehending what its ramifications are:

https://kboo.fm/media/111024-changing-portlands-city-government-part-2

I highly recommend listening to it, before voting on the measure.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

Daniel, the problem you are describing is endemic in Portland, getting city approval for anything new (or anything at all) can be a labyrinthian process involving multiple City Bureaus and State Agencies (e.g. OLCC).

This can of course be overcome if you throw enough resources at it, which is why traditional capitalist developers succeed at it better than coops and other smaller operators, many of whom are more altruistic than focused on business, and probably aren’t MBAs to begin with.

IMO, the real question is whether or not the original CityBikes model is still viable and/or important in today’s corporate world. Personally, I think it is; I was there when a small grocery coop grew up into Whole Foods, and there are certainly tradeoffs.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago

Pointing out a lie from Bob regarding when and why he hired a lawyer. The initial ‘intent to dissolve’ letter sent by Bob’s lawyer is dated March 16. This does not square at all with Bob’s quote in this article “It was only when Thompson “delayed and deferred” that conversation for two months [which would mean May or later] and then began sending harassing letters, Kamzelski says, that he hired a lawyer.”

This would indicate Bob had already hired a lawyer even before having the conversion with Noel about how the Articles indicate how they could cut out past owners.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

Perhapse Bob was dealing with your developer neighbors? Your Portland bike shop annex turns out to be the last holdout on your block, all the other properties are owned by a single developer. The idea that it is in the interests of an outside developer, to the tune of several million dollars, to encourage the demise and subsequent sale of a venerable bike coop is beyond the imagination of some Portlanders doesn’t mean that it isn’t the case.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

David,

Re “The idea that it is in the interests of an outside developer, to the tune of several million dollars, to encourage the demise and subsequent sale of a venerable bike coop is beyond the imagination of some Portlanders doesn’t mean that it isn’t the case.

If such is the case ( very high selling price), that would argue against dissolving Citybikes and using sales capital to address the coop’s structural needs. If Bob ever had a cooperative owners approach and mindset, it has not been in use for some years.

Past owners need to stay involved in some basis to ensure the ship does not run aground from being effected by the destructive business norms that permeate the culture.

MC
MC
1 month ago

I’ve read and considered all the comments. The action of Bob retaining a lawyer is clearly not in alignment w. the 7 Cooperative Principles.

As a business owner, that’s his legal right. If the bylwas state “full consensus” than that should be the legal requirement for the decision to dissolve or not dissolve the organization.

Does Citybikes have a board of directors?

One change to the organization that might help with the financial viability is paid membership like at People’s Coop.

As a member of People’s, you get to vote on the BoD, attend BoD meetings and have some say in the direction of the Coop.

A couple of other Cooperative Principles I think Bob should be taking into consideration.

5. Education, Training, and Information
Communications about the nature and benefits of cooperatives, particularly with the general public and opinion leaders, help boost cooperative understanding.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
By working together through local, national, regional and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies, and deal more effectively with social and community needs.

7. Concern for Community
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by the membership.

If memory serves, KBOO was having some difficulties a few years ago with their BoD and I think they reached out to People’s Coop and/or CDS Cooperative Development Services.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

MC, Excellent observations and suggestions. These are the principles I’m eager to help assure become part of Citybikes’ reputation again with operational structure that can not go ignored.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

People’s is owned by the customers; it is not a worker-owned collective. That’s why it has a board of directors: to represent the owners and deal with the management (which is a collective, but has no ownership stake). When you “join” People’s, you’re actually purchasing a share, and are entitled to a slice of the profits. This arrangement sounds a lot like capitalism to me.

If the management were the owners, there will be no need for a board, which is probably why City Bikes doesn’t have one.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Maybe this 2012 BP article is incorrect, but in it there’s a statement about the CB Board of Directors. Roger N. also mentions the CB BoD in these comments.

All Co-ops in America exist and have to interface w, our Capitalist system. In this article, there’s a screenshot of the the CB articles of incorporation which lists the class of Shareholders, A & B.

Co-ops have to do all the same business, legal & financial things for profit co-ops have to do which includes the legal mandate to make a profit for the owners/shareholders.

The big difference with Co-ops they’re organized, how decisions are made and how the business operates. They’re also usually more committed to community participation and doing things that are beneficial to the community but may not be profitable.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

Co-ops don’t “interface with” capitalism, they are a pure form of capitalism, and could not exist without it. My neighbors and I pool our resources to start an enterprise that serves the community and returns any profits to us. That’s about as free market as you get.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts,
Your description of cooperatives does not square with many kinds of cooperatives, nor how they are perceived by so called free marketeers in high finance.

These give needed deeper insight:

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago

When one reads an article about a topic with which one is intimately familiar, one is invariably disappointed with the way it is depicted, even when the author is a conscientious journalist like Jonathan Maus, who seeks to deliver an accurate account of a situation w/o favoring either party. It is frustrating to give an in depth interview only to have one remark quoted out of context or see the topic framed in a manner which one feels misrepresents ones position. (I wan’t interviewed, but an accurate quote was used from one of my e-mails).

The former worker/owners of Citybikes are not, at this time, in a legal dispute with the current worker/owners. We do however support Noel Thompson’s desire to keep the co-op going as a community resource. When I turned the business over to the workers at the end of 1989, after four challenging years, I envisioned it continuing in perpetuity, with young idealistic people taking the reins from their forebears with fresh energy and ideas.

I gave them my blessing and a book called “We Own It”, which I had purchased from Laughing Horse Book Collective. They borrowed the text from other worker owned cooperatives to draft their articles of incorporation and bylaws. Being aware that the success of a business is generally the result of a lot of “sweat equity” early on, they added a clause (3) pertaining to the distribution of assets in the event that the co-op were to be dissolved at some point in the future, so that contributions form previous worker/owners would be retroactively compensated. Unfortunately, they did not remove the original, contradictory paragraph (2) and their lawyer apparently didn’t catch the discrepancy. We, the former owners, believe that the intent is clear, even though the language is confusing and, as Bob said, it is up to lawyers to make that call, if he, Bryce & Claire (with whom I have also had friendly interactions in the past) prevail in their (to my mind) misguided attempt to dissolve the co-op and attempt to abscond with its assets.

Prior to opening Citybikes, I was a member of the Bicycle Repair Collective, a non-profit community bike shop, founded in 1976, which shared the same premises at 1912/1914 SE Ankeny with the Bicycle Commuter Service (predecessor of the BTA), for five years. One of the first things that I learned there was that collective decision making required one to set aside one’s personal interests and consider what is in the best interests of the group or entity. I would add that one should also consider what is in the best interests of the community and the planet. It has been suggested that rather than lawyers, Citybikes Workers’ Cooperative should engage the services of a skilled, open minded and unbiased mediator to adjudicate in this matter. I’m inclined to agree.

I was instrumental in renting and ultimately purchasing the “Annex” at 734 SE Ankeny. It served its purpose in Citybikes’ heyday, but is now an albatross. I agree with my friend and former co-worker/owner Sara Stout, that it should be sold. If I were a member of Citybikes’ board of directors, I would advocate for the proceeds being used to settle any debts that the co-op has and use the remainder to establish an endowment to cover any losses in lean years, employ all workers during the winter months and fund special projects, such as the very successful apprentice program that Sara and I established at the Annex, which enabled us to hire cooperatively minded people (especially women) who did not already have experience working on bikes.

I would also continue to advocate for all workers having the option to become owners after six months or a year, so that Citybikes may carry on and thrive in perpetuity, as a true worker owned cooperative.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

Thank you Roger for very thorough historical accounting and clarity around the situation and your position.

I didn’t know about the apprentice program the you & Sara started at the Annex That’s good work!

This may just end up being a cautionary tale about the devil in the details and making the extra effort to ensure things are right on any and all legal paperwork.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

I agree with you Roger re selling the Annex, depending on debt load and repair details of that property. If a plan to fix then rent or sell at below market rates to a community-serving enterprise is a financial reality, I’d prefer that direction.

On all your other points I’m 100% with you.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

I like the idea of a mediator, but only if all parties agree, in advance, to abide by his/her decision. The good thing about lawyers and legal proceedings, is that they result in a definitive outcome. The bad thing, of course, is having to pay them $250 an hour, sometimes, ad infinitum.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

An arbitrator makes decisions, a mediator helps people find consensus and make the decision themselves.

mcl pedaler
mcl pedaler
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

From a former non-owner employee of Citybikes: Thank you, Roger, for bringing this history to light. I agree with previous suggestions about selling the annex, reorganizing and rebuilding the co-op, and clarifying Citybikes’ cooperative principles with help from previously listed sources. I worked there 24 years ago and loved working there. Yes it’s a different world now, but it distresses me to witness this turmoil. I sincerely wish for an agreement to mediation. I would love to see Citybikes being a co-op well into the future.

Daniel
Daniel
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

So you’re the person who never bothered to get a conditional use permit for the Annex.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

I was one of six worker/owners at the time. We rented the front half of the building and moved the bicycle refurbishing part of our business and our office there. We also had all of our parts delivered there and supplied the Mother shop by (non-electric) bicycle, with a trailer. When the owner died and it came up for sale, we bought it. We made all decisions collectively.
There was a print shop in the back of the building, which had occupied the premises since it was built in 1954 (as I recall). When the owner retired, we expanded into the whole space and began to also sell new bicycles to address the demand for the type of bikes people were requesting (such as hybrids).
I don’t know anything about a “conditional use permit” and don’t recall any mention of one in the 13 yrs that I worked at the Annex. If we had been advised that one was necessary, I’m sure that we would have complied, as we did when the city established the requirement that we register every used bike purchased with the police.

Daniel
Daniel
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

It’s just an interesting dichotomy to observe, 5 years after I really cared. I ended up not leasing the Annex (and signing a 3-year lease for $7000 triple net per month, increasing by 3% per year along with tenant improvements that I’d pay for, which was what Citybikes was asking for the space) because of that fact. You bought commercial real estate and didn’t have to pay much attention to zoning law, I had to pay attention otherwise I wouldn’t be able to lease it.

I also never got a reply from anybody at Citybikes regarding this issue, even months into lease negotiations. I had an email thread going with Noel and Bob, and this fact was why I had to walk away – I said that verbatim in email to both. It’s pretty depressing that you all just left the space empty, and are now fighting over who gets the scraps when you sell it. What an incredible waste.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

Agreed Daniel, Another incident of less than adequate management that we past owners want to support realignment about. Noel is on board for it. Gotta accentuate the positive, learn from and alter … not repeat past mistakes.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

Pretend you are a greedy capitalist pig of a developer of the worst sort, a person without scruples. You own all the lots on your block except for the City Bikes Annex, and you know from past experience from other unscrupulous developers that if you own a whole city block and you ask city council nicely, they’ll pretty much let you build whatever you want no matter how high, code or no code.

How might you go about acquiring this last lot for the best price with the least amount of pain?

City Bikes is a member coop with “A” shares who have essentially no say in how the coop is run and “B” shares that make all the decisions, particularly about selling property (the only decision we the developer cares about). The number of “B” share owners has historically varied, at least as many as 6 but now just 4. City Bikes like most worker coops probably doesn’t do much on background checks, so getting your people on the coop “B” ownership “board” without the opposition knowing it is not particularly hard.

How is my analysis wrong so far?

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

According to the Jonathon’s reporting in this article and Roger N’s comments there isn’t now nor ever has been any Class B shareholders.

According to Roger that is an artifact from the Cooperative Bylaws template that they used from the “We Own It” Book.

The worker-owners can buy in as Class A shareholders only and former worker-owners have no shares. Their shares are bought out when they resign.

However, my understanding is the intention during forming of the Coop was that former member-owners would get a share of the proceeds from the sale of assets according to the hours they worked as they put in sweat equity to build the business to that funded the buying of assets that are sold.

It’s conceivable some developer walked into the Coop and talked to Bob about buying the building. It’s also conceivable Bob would like to have the $ from the sale to put into his own business. It’s also possible Bob thinks Citybikes is a failed business and just wants to dissolve it instead of taking on the work to make it successful.

The last scenario seems to be the most likely based on Jonathon’s reporting and comments by former worker-owners.

The bylaws state “full consensus” for business decisions such as dissolving. Noel doesn’t want to dissolve CB so Bob hires a lawyer because Oregon state law says simple majority for such decisions. As I understand the current standing is 2 for dissolving, 1 for not and 1 on the fence.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

My understanding is that the Class B shares are what we called the “fair share”, which is (or was when i was a worker/owner) $2,000, taken out of our pay checks in $50 increments and repaid after relinquishing ownership. I think that Class A shares are or were voting shares – one per worker/owner. We never used the terminology, which as MC wrote was in the language borrowed from other worker owned co-ops.
We have no reason to believe that a developer is behind the mutiny, although when we purchased the Annex building in 1999, we learned that the owners of the rest of the block were disappointed that we had snagged it before they even knew that it was available..
It’s absurd to suggest that the business is unsustainable. I started it with $2,000 and when I passed it on to the co-op, its only assets were the inventory and tools. If the Annex building were sold, they could pay off their debts and capital gains taxes and have plenty left to cover any future shortfalls for some time, allowing Noel to recruit people who believe in the co-op ideal and enthusiasm to carry it forward together.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

Ah, so if I understand you correctly, a $2,000 investment gets a worker-owner 1 share that gives voting, dividend and proceeds from sale of assets rights in proportion to how many owners there are.

For example, 4 owners, each gets 1 vote, 25% of the profits, 25% of any proceeds from the sale of assets.

So, there’s just 1 class of share, it’s Class B and each worker-owner can only invest in 1 share for $2,000.

CB isn’t selling Class A and Class B shares to the public at different prices to raise funds for working capital.

Furthermore, as a worker-owner can’t invest in the org. by buying more shares, the hours worked is considered a sweat equity investment in the org. which is why the clause about distributing proceeds from the sale of assets to current and former shareholders based on hours worked since incorporation.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

There are about 50 former owners. There are currently only four worker/owners, which is part of the problem. Fifteen years ago there were 16 worker/owners. Profit sharing is calculated according to hours worked in a given year. If the owners work 60% of the hours, then 60% of the profits would be divvied up amongst them and paid out over a five year period.
Citybikes has never sold shares to the public. All working capital is derived from the “fair shares” contributed by each new owner and any retained profits. Citybikes has taken out loans on three occasions that I’m aware of to be able to make payroll over the winter after a lean year (including for some non-owners), which were paid back over a five year period. They have also held and mostly paid off a couple of mortgages as well as invested in a lot of renovation and upgrades to the mother shop. All this was financed by income from running a successful bicycle repair shop.
If Citybikes were to continue in perpetuity, as envisioned (by me at any rate) all assets would continue to be held by the co-op and controlled by the current owners (at any given time). The former owners would only receive a share if the co-op were to be dissolved and the third clause of that section of the articles of incorporation were deemed to supersede the second clause.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  roger noehren

Agreed, Roger.

MC
MC
1 month ago

I’m curious to know why these allegations on the GoFundMe page aren’t articulated in this article or in the comments.

“Among other violations, the guilty parties have 1) not worked the minimum required hours in 2021 and 2022. 2) Have refused to participate in required meetings. 3) Have failed to adequately staff the shop.”

Reference – https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-citybikes-workers-coop

Pretty serious allegations of negligence of duty, business mismanagement and unmet work reqs. per Coop bylaws are only mentioned on the GoFunMe page. I think providing any evidence in support of these allegations used for fundraising are reasonable.

This would be far more credible and actionable than public outcry & claims of “greed, sabotage, absconding with the Co-op assets” and the like.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

MC,

I could not agree more, but I’ll try… ; )

The details of those claims are in a document I’ve been preparing but was not ok”d by other group members by Jonathan’s deadline. Maybe this can be info for a follow up BP story, or at least once we get the legal ok from Noel’s lawyer to present the data, I’ll post links to it here in comment-land.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Lacy

Brian, thank you. I apologize for suggesting these might be false accusations used for fundraising. I guess sometimes all the corruption in the world makes me distrustful and I jump to negative assumptions upon seeing a discrepancy of info.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

MC,
It’s important to be accurate and forthcoming. None of what we’ve stated to the best of our knowledge looking at past records is inaccurate. We’ve not posted the minute details bc we’ve not gotten the OK from Noel’s lawyer to assure we have standing to state online these claims wo having to deal with Bob sending more letters to either me or Noel trying to not have his reputation hurt. The moment his lawyer gives the green light we’ll be posting what we can.

That said, the minute Bob agrees to abide by the duties he signed up for when he applied to be an owner is the minute we’ll end the community organizing effort.

This has always been Bob putting his foot in it by ignoring several very clear duties he and Bryce have violated, some for at least 2 years.

roger noehren
roger noehren
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

Former worker/owners have no say in the internal politics or operations of the co-op. There are policy & procedures for addressing issues that arise within the co-op. The four worker/owners are the board of directors. It’s different from a consumer co-op like People’s, which has a separate overseeing board that is elected by the members.
We also have no say as to whether the co-op is dissolved; we’re merely advocating for it’s continuance, which we believe is desirable for the local community and for the future worker/owners who we anticipate will make it thrive again as a fun, cooperatively run workplace (with mandatory dance breaks).

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

How does a worker collective with a small number of owning workers and a larger number of regular employees compare to a more traditional partnership arrangement?

Partnerships seem stable over time, whereas worker collectors do not.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I suspect City Bikes, having been in business for 32 years, is completely unwilling to consider any other business model; but just in case they are, here is a short simplified summary of each business type from the Federal Small Business Administration (SBA).

https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/choose-business-structure

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Thanks for the link. Interestingly, “collectives” (or worker-owned co-ops) are not mentioned, though consumer-owned co-ops (People’s, REI, et. al.) are.

I’m not proposing any solution for Citybikes, I’m just trying to understand how (or if) these two similar sounding ownership structures differ.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m not sure if this is helpful, but Co-ops may or may not be collectively managed where every worker is also a manager. People’s & Alberta Food Co-ops are collectively managed. I don’t think REI is.

But there are Co-ops that have managers & workers.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

That is true — the collective management is independent of the cooperative ownership structure. You could have a privately owned company that is collectively managed (if the owners were willing to support the high levels of inefficiency such management entails), just as you can have cooperative ownership with standard employment (like REI). People’s and Alberta have both cooperative ownership and collective management.

Exactly how cooperative ownership differs from other shareholding arrangements seems mostly a matter of degree — in a coop, owners are usually limited to a single share and may not be able to sell them except back to the organization, but they do (usually) entitle you to a share of the profits and the right to vote, just like a more traditional shareholding company.

Every time I’ve given the matter much thought, I’ve concluded that consumer and worker cooperatives are just part of the broad spectrum of arrangements possible under the umbrella of capitalism, and aren’t really that different from the more traditional structures.

I should say that I really like co-ops, and am a member owner of several.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

“Every time I’ve given the matter much thought, I’ve concluded that consumer and worker cooperatives are just part of the broad spectrum of arrangements possible under the umbrella of capitalism, and aren’t really that different from the more traditional structures.”

To this I’d say do more research, get involved more w those Co-ops like going to the BoD’s meetings and even chat up the workers.

I’ve been involved w. both throughout my time in Portland. I think they’re quite a bit different just starting w. the fact that as a worker you’ve much more say in how the biz is run day-to-day but also in how the biz grows & develops.

The legal & financial side is much less different but that’s due to the structure of those systems that imposes limits & challenges to doing things differently.

And this reality is why there are so few Co-ops in America than in the rest of the world even Canada.

‘The Italian Region Where Co-ops Produce a Third of Its GDP’

https://www.yesmagazine.org/economy/2016/07/05/the-italian-place-where-co-ops-drive-the-economy-and-most-people-are-members

I think the biggest problem Co-ops face though is a workforce & community that isn’t educated and/or skilled in cooperation, collaboration and being community oriented.

We’re great at competition, capitalizing, extracting, polluting, producing & consuming without any regard for environmental and human consequences.

We and the planet would be much better off with a slower, steadier economy that isn’t designed for market speculation & turning profits for the Capitalists & wealthy class every quarter.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

the fact that as a worker you’ve much more say in how the biz is run day-to-day but also in how the biz grows & develops.

That may be true at some co-ops that have a management structure that is conducive to that. I’m less sure that’s true at REI. I think it’s more a reflection of the scale/outlook of people drawn to start co-ops than it is an intrinsic characteristic.

We and the planet would be much better off with a slower, steadier economy that isn’t designed for market speculation & turning profits for the Capitalists & wealthy class every quarter.

I concur.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

True. REI is member-owned cooperative but not collectively managed like People’s, Alberta, Citybikes.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I apologize if this is obvious to you but it wasn’t for me, even as the son of 20 yr union worker & union president, who went to college, argued w. him about NAFTA from the point of view of the ivory tower & then many years later apologized for being a naive A student w/o a clue about how stuff works in the real world.

But anyway, the traditional structures of Capitalism were created by wealthy people w. Capital to efficiently create more capital as quickly as possible for them w/o any regard to the workers or the earth for that matter.

Almost all worker rights that you enjoy were fought for, bled for & died for by our working class ancestors. I made an assumption there you’re not a member of the Walton family.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

You could have a privately owned company that is collectively managed (if the owners were willing to support the high levels of inefficiency such management entails),

For example, Cargill Inc is a major grain shipping company that is collectively managed by the fourth and fifth generation of the family, entirely privately-owned.

just as you can have cooperative ownership with standard employment (like REI).

Farmers Union Coop is a farmer-led coop common in many small Midwestern towns; American Crystal Sugar, which produces 15% of all sugar in the US, is a farmer-coop with high-yields through very strict field rotation policies and sustainable fallow plantings; and Reunite is an Italian wine producer-coop.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Reunite on ice; Reunite so nice.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Yup, same brand. An Italian coop. Benetton is another, for small textile companies. The members of the coop are themselves small firms and corporations who are not good at exports and marketing, so they band together to form what is essentially a marketing company, but governed in a coop structure, so everyone has a say.

To a certain extent, coops are a modern extension of the medieval guild system, part of the per-capitalist non-mercantilism economic system in Europe. As others have already pointed out, the guild masters (senior workers) together largely manage operations and determine who trades what with whom, rather than the customer, an individual manager, an owner, or a corporate board, and the purpose of the coop is not really to make a profit as much as it is to employ people, serve the community, and (in a very catholic Europe) to serve god (or some higher order today.)

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

This looks like a really great resource with lots of info on all the thins Co-operative that I found on the US Federation of Cooperative Workers website.

https://www.tesacollective.com/study-guide-to-the-cooperative-movement/

mcl pedaler
mcl pedaler
1 month ago
Reply to  MC

This link has a very interesting interview with author Jessica Gordon Nembhard on Blacks and co-ops and why they couldn’t openly embrace them.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  mcl pedaler

I’m really glad you mentioned this. That’s the first time I visited that website and I just quickly scrolled through it to get an idea of what all was there.

Definitely very interesting and worth my time.

Scott
Scott
1 month ago

I’m sorry to hear about the conflict at City Bikes. The shop has been an important part of our community for a long time. It is organized such it can provide lower cost parts and service to people who really need it. In fact, it is an important resource for all of us. We have lost several shops over the years that filled that role. I really hope there is a way to keep City Bikes alive.

MC
MC
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott

Yes! There were times when I had the $ to buy new & support the biz and there were times when I didn’t. I was very grateful to find good used parts & helpful, knowledge folks to keep my bike rollin’.

A few times I was able to sell a few used items I had that didn’t need and then use the store credit to buy something I really did need.

At a lot of other retail shops in town you can’t talk to the mechanics. Most of the time when I’ve been able to talk to them they’ve helped me solve my problem w/o buying anything new or just talked sense into me when I was hellbent on buying some new shiny thing I didn’t need.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago

If you tried to sign the petition and got an error page, the initial petition got hacked. Here’s a new hopefully better protected Save Citybikes Petition.

Thanks for your community support.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

This is disappointing. While I have had mixed experiences over the years at City Bikes, I believe in the concept of a co-op and like to support them when I can. Last year Bob was telling folks that he was going to continue with CB as an owner in hopes that he could convince the other owners to close so that they could collect on the sale of the properties. To me that seems against the spirit of the co-op and all the work that former owners had put in to gain those assets and the trust of the community. If anything, they should sell the unused building, pay off debts and reinvest in the operation. If that’s not what Bob and some of the other owners are interested in, then they should resign and allow new folks to come in and reinvigorate it. If the CB lives on, I really hope they reorganize more like Peoples- have a board of directors and a membership model. Peoples is far from perfect, but the decisions are put in the hands of more people when there is an elected Board and members who get to vote.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
1 month ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Anon,

Agreed re modeling to secure board support.

Would you be willing to post here or email more details re Bob announcing his plans to stay w cb in order to reap asset rewards?

Send to
comm.to.save.citybikes@gmail.com

Thanks!

JEFFREY BERNARDS
29 days ago

As a news junkie, I found this article informative, comprehensive and well researched. Thanks for the awesome reporting

Peter Young
Peter Young
25 days ago

This is a copy of the letter that Citybikes’ present owners sent to Noel Thompson declaring their intent to close the shop and divide the assets. Note: the date is before Bob’s statement about closure…

Brian S. Jolly
Attorney
Admitted in Oregon
bjolly@fwwlaw.com
121 SW Morrison Street, Suite 600
Portland, Oregon 97204
phone 503.228.6044
fax 503.228.1741
http://www.fwwlaw.com
121 SW Morrison Street, Suite 600, Portland, Oregon 97204
March 16, 2022
Via Email and Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested
opticopter@gmail.com
Mr. Noel Thompson
1408 NE 28th Avenue
Portland, OR 97232
Re: Citybikes Workers’ Cooperative
Dear Noel:
This firm represents Bob Kamzelski, Claire Nelson, and Bryce Hutchinson in connection
with their respective interests in Citybikes Workers’ Cooperative (“Citybikes”). This letter is to provide
formal notice to you that our clients intend to wind up the business, liquidate its assets, and distribute the
net proceeds to the four of you.
While our clients would much prefer that the four of you work in coordination to close
down the business and liquidate its assets, we have advised them that they have the power to do so with
or without your cooperation.
Based on our review of the Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, and ORS Chapter 62, three
members of Citybikes have the voting power required to take the necessary steps to voluntarily dissolve
the entity. Accordingly, three members also have the power to liquidate the assets, and under the terms
of the Articles and under Oregon law, all net proceeds will be distributed equally among the current
members.
If you are interested in continuing the business on your own, our clients are willing to
give you flexibility to secure financing to purchase their interests in the cooperative. If that is an avenue
you wish to pursue, please let me know right away.

copy of letter provided by Peter Young – former owner and 24 year veteran of the co-op.

Peter Young
Peter Young
23 days ago

You’re welcome.

survivor79
survivor79
29 days ago

Bob is an abuser.

Brian Lacy
Brian Lacy
26 days ago
Reply to  survivor79

I’ve heard this accusation from others. Abuse 99% of the time is unresolved trauma learned early in life. My compassion ends when an abuser fails to take the destructive outcomes of their actions and thinking/ subconscious patterns seriously.

If you think this can play role in saving CB consider reaching out to our email or give me a hello anytime on my cell 503 975 2391.

Speaking truth heals znd it s empowering!