Renting Channing Hall and the Gym with a broker and event packages – FAQs

First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
Rick Hoyt-McDaniels
Renting Channing Hall and the Gym with a broker and event packages – FAQs
September 10, 2017

    1. What’s the idea?

We would work with an event broker, Carlos. The name of his company is Carlos Decoraciones. Carlos will promote event rentals in our building and add value by selling event packages.

    1. How is working with a broker and creating event packages different from the event rentals we already do in Channing and the Gym?

Carlos will work to increase the number of events we host in Channing and will promote our Gym as a second event hall.

Carlos will add value to our facilities by offering packages. The packages allow renters to pay one fee to Carlos who then makes all the arrangements for decorations, catering, etc. Carlos’ added value will allow us to charge more rent for the hall.

  1. How many more events?

Carlos thinks that we could rent Channing Hall and the Gym potentially Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, every weekend. He’s very optimistic!

Sonia and I agree that we should not attempt to host parties on Sundays due to conflicts with our church programs and with other Sunday rentals.

Sonia and I agree that a reasonable goal for party rentals would be two per weekend. That’s about 100 parties a year – about three times what we do now.

  1. How much more could we charge? (More details discussed in Question 16)

Carlos proposes:

Present           Proposed        Expenses        Proposed Total

Channing Friday       2000               2200               800                 1402
Channing Saturday   2000               2500               937                 1563
Gym Friday                1500               1800               903                 897
Gym Saturday            1500               2000               1057               943

  1. How do we get paid?

We would get paid a straight rental fee per event.

  1. How does Carlos get paid?

Carlos’ fee is included in the amounts he charges for the packages. In effect the renter pays Carlos for the convenience of buying a package.

  1. Sounds great. What do we need to do to make this happen?

We need to refinish the floor in Channing (Status – We have selected a contractor and are checking references)

We need to paint Channing. Carlos has a recommended color. (Status – Sonia is following-up about the color and getting an estimate from Steve Hinman)

We need to replace several of our old folding tables. Carlos suggests we buy 60” round tables instead of rectangular tables.

Carlos would like us to move the piano out of Channing during the parties. Sonia suggests we roll it into Severance.

Carlos is interested in “investing” in setting up our gymnasium as a more attractive rental space. He would like to paint, put sound proofing material on the walls and hang chandeliers.

Carlos would like to decorate the gym as a party space and leave up the decorations permanently. He suspects that it will be difficult for people to see the gym as appropriate for a party unless they see it decorated. Photos are not as effective, he says.

  1. Will Carlos need storage space for his party supplies?

No. Carlos’ crew will arrive at the end of every party and take away all of the decorations. Nothing will be left in Channing or stored at the church.

Carlos proposes that the Gym decorations would stay up permanently.

  1. On party rental days what would the schedule be?

Set up begins at 10am
Party starts at 5pm
Party ends at midnight (Fridays) or 1am (Saturdays)
Clean-up crew finishes about 5am

  1. Would we be able to have party rentals in Channing and the Gym and also rent Fritchman to the Firmes congregation?

On Friday and Saturday evenings the Firmes congregation rents Fritchman from 7pm to 9pm. We have had past experience with parties in Channing and the Gym and the congregation meeting in Fritchman simultaneously. It takes coordination and cooperation but this has worked.

However, this question starts to show the limitations of our ability to earn income from renting space. We have a finite number of rooms and a finite number of hours in the day. There is a maximum capacity that we cannot go beyond.

  1. What about parking?

The Channing rental fee includes parking in the Westmoreland Lot

The Gymnasium rental fee will include parking in our underground lot.

The Firmes en la Fe congregation renting Fritchman does not use our parking because most of their members walk to church from the neighborhood.

  1. Would we be able to have worship and afternoon meetings in Channing Hall?

If we don’t have parties on Sunday there would be no conflict.

Rolling the piano back and forth between Channing and Severance every week (as Carlos suggests) would be very hard on the piano, and on the floor.

I suggest we leave the piano in Channing.

Or we could move the piano into Severance permanently and have our worship in Severance.

  1. What staff would First Church be expected to provide?

On Saturdays we employ a person to be on site during the set up time. 10am to 5pm. $15/hour ($105). (We don’t need this person on Fridays because we already have church staff working on Friday during those hours).

We employ a valet to supervise the underground parking. 5 to midnight on Fridays. 5pm to 1am on Saturdays. $15/hour ($105 or $120)

We hire a team of two security guards during the party hours. ($238 on Fridays, $272 on Saturday because of the extra hour.)

We employ a two-person crew to be on site during the party and to clean up afterward. 5pm to 5am. $20/hour ($480 total)

  1. Who can we hire to do this work?

The security guards and valet come from professional companies.

The on-site set up worker for Saturday has been Guadalupe Roman, the same woman who cooks Sunday lunches for the church, and who works Saturday mornings with the UPLA Groceries for our Neighbors program.

In the past we have hired Sonia and her husband, or Maira and her husband to be our on-site staff during the parties and clean up afterward (12 hours of work). We cannot continue to use Sonia or Maira in this capacity.

If Sonia and Maira work for the church more than 40 hours in a week we need to pay them over time – time and a half. (Sonia’s regular work schedule is 32 hours/week. Maira works 35 hours/week).   Overtime pay would increase our expenses.

More important, though, we can’t have our weekday office staff also working regular 12 hour overnight shifts on the weekends. Especially if we plan to have 2 parties every weekend.

This means we would have to hire new staff to work the parties. This adds another layer of complexity. These new workers would be part time, occasional workers. They would not be as dependable and responsible as Sonia and Maira. They could not represent the church the way Sonia and Maira do to our party guests. These workers would not have the authority to resolve issues that might arise with neighbors and/or police.

Who would hire these workers? Supervise them? Fill in for them when they suddenly aren’t available?

  1. What other expenses would we face?

I estimate $80 per party:

Increased use of utilities (electrical and water use)

Increased wear and tear on the building

Increased use of supplies for bathrooms

  1. How much money could we make?

Current          Current          Proposed        Proposed
Income                        Friday             Saturday        Friday             Saturday

Rent                            $2,000             $2,000           $2,200            $2,500


Set-up staff                0                      $105               0                      $105
Guards                        $238               $272               $238               $272
Valet*                          0                      0                      0                      0
Onsite / clean-up      $480               $480               $480               $480
Other expenses         $80                 $80                 $80                 $80

TOTAL per party      $1,202             $1,063             $1402             $1563

*Channing rentals use the Westmoreland lot, which doesn’t require a valet.

Current          Current          Proposed        Proposed
Income                        Friday             Saturday        Friday             Saturday

Rent                            $1,500             $1,500           $1,800            $2,000


Set-up staff                0                      $105               0                      $105
Guards                        $238               $272               $238               $272
Valet                           $105               $120               $105               $120
Onsite / clean-up      $480               $480               $480               $480
Other expenses         $80                 $80                 $80                 $80

TOTAL per party        $597               $443               $897               $943

Current Monthly                   Proposed Monthly
# of parties    subtotal          # of parties    subtotal

Channing Friday                   1                      1202               2                      2,804
Channing Saturday               2                      2126               3                      4,689
Gym Friday (0)                      0                      0                      1                      897
Gym Saturday (0)                 0                      0                      2                      1,886

MONTHLY TOTAL                                        3,328                                      10,276

ANNUAL TOTAL                                          39,936                                      123,312

An annual increase of: $83,376

  1. What’s the effect on our annual deficit?

If we are able to host two parties every weekend, at the rental rates Carlos thinks we can charge, we would be able to increase our annual rental income by $83,376.

$83,376 is enough to erase our average annual deficit of $80,000/year (average for the last 10 years). We would still be about $20,000 short of closing our actual deficit for our current fiscal year.

  1. What about the effect on our church programs and mission?

If we had to meet in Severance that would be a problem. I think we would start to feel pushed out of our own building.

Parties on two nights every weekend would probably generate complaints from the neighbors and possibly the police. Someone at the church would have to deal with those issues and complaints.

As with all solutions to our financial problem that depend on increased rental income, generating that income requires time and energy from the church staff, minister, and lay leaders that we cannot then use to support the church’s mission.

  1. So what’s your conclusion?

I have my doubts that we can rent Channing and the Gym as often as Carlos claims, especially at the increased price he imagines we will charge.

If we are able to rent Channing and the Gym as often as Carlos claims then we will run into problems with our existing tenants, with our neighbors and with increased burdens on office staff, minister and lay leaders. 96 parties a year is a lot!

Even in the best case this plan just barely meets our minimum financial needs. Our budget is already very tight. This plan would not give us the financial resources we need to breathe easy and grow.

I do not believe that our church will thrive under the inconvenience of sharing our space this way. I believe this will feel like an additional burden holding the church back from fulfilling our mission.

I worry about the reputation we will get in the neighborhood for appearing, in effect, to be an event hall available for rent rather than a spiritual community organized for a religious mission

I worry that our historical identity as a liberal church will be obscured by our new status as an event hall.

However, given all the caveats above, and, as long as we also convene the Property Committee to begin moving forward on that idea, I see no reason not to give this a try. Let’s see how it works over the next six months or so. We should carefully monitor the results to see if we are hitting the income totals we need to hit. And we should reassess how we feel about the arrangement once we’ve been experiencing it for six months.