UC Santa Cruz’s bike co-op is celebrating its 20th anniversary — without a home. The co-op, a student-run shop that sells parts and provides cheap bike repair, moved out of the Redwood Building in Quarry Plaza due to construction to make the building more earthquake proof.
The year-long construction forced other student organizations, including the Student Union Assembly and the Big Five ethnic organizations, to relocate to temporary offices. The bike co-op wasn’t so lucky. They’ve had to suspend operations, which they estimate served 800 students a month.
The bike co-op doesn’t receive funding from the university and paid rent for its space in the Redwood Building, said Chet Mahoney, a UCSC fourth-year and co-op volunteer for three years. Although a nonprofit run by student volunteers, the co-op is considered a business by the university, Mahoney said.
“They don’t have to treat us the same way [as student organizations] because we are in a totally different category,” he said.
According to Mahoney, there was talk of the bike co-op receiving a temporary space but miscommunication led to the plans falling through.
“We thought administration was going to provide us a space with the other orgs, but we realized that wasn’t going to happen three months before the move out,” Mahoney said. “It was a little awkward. They wanted to help us, but people always get caught up in the bureaucracy.”
Second-year Darwin Li represented the bike co-op in the Student Union Governing Board (SUGB) meetings last year. SUGB fought for a temporary space that met safety, accessibility and centrality needs after rejecting the university’s offer of trailers in the Crown/Merrill parking lot. After months of petitioning and bargaining for a space that met SUGB’s requirements, the tenants were offered space in the Cowell apartments. The bike co-op wasn’t included in this offer, and were given alternate suggestions for places to look, Li said.
“I can’t put all of the blame on anybody or any organization,” Li said. “It was a tough situation finding a space on campus. Ultimately, it was really our responsibility.”
Current SUGB chair Sauli Itzel Colio said the relocation isn’t ideal for any of the Redwood Building tenants, and attempts were made to include bike co-op representatives.
“During our meetings we reached out as much as we could to the bike co-op,” Colio said. “We did all that we could. In the end [the construction] is something that was imposed on us. It’s not our fault.”
The bike co-op said they can return to the Redwood Building by next fall, but Mahoney worries the construction may end up taking longer.
“My biggest concern is that people are going to forget the bike co-op or learn to depend on something else,” Mahoney said.
Bike co-op volunteer Nathaniel Ng is concerned that a lull in business will make it difficult to get cheap parts for next year from distributors. The bike co-op stashed its supplies at volunteer’s houses, Ng said.
“We won’t be able to sell anything for a year,” Ng said. “You have a lot of distributors you use — it’s really tricky — you don’t want to mess up those distributors.“
The co-op hasn’t given up on finding a space for the year, another volunteer Hanna Inman said.
For now, the bike co-op will act as a resource for people who have questions about their bike troubles, Mahoney said.
“We are still going to be out there to help people. If you have a question you can ask us over email. We’ll do our best to help people over email and Facebook,” Mahoney said. “We can’t actually fix your bike, but we can help get your bike fixed.”
Find the bike co-op on Facebook under “The Bike Coop” or email them at email@example.com.