On Tuesday, January 7, 2014, LA’s Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (Commission) voted unanimously to adopt six (6) of the Neighborhood Council Plan Review committees’ recommendations and officially forward those recommendations to LA City Council’s Education and Neighborhoods committee. The recommendations if adopted by the City Council and signed by the Mayor would impact how Neighborhood Councils do their work. The Commission took their actions after considering both the results of a survey designed for Neighborhood Council leaders on these issues, as well as the resolutions submitted by a number of Neighborhood Council boards. The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (Department) also provided supporting analysis. The Commission and Department express gratitude to all those who took the time and energy to provide their input.
The six (6) recommendations adopted by the Commission address the following areas and include the following language:
1) Early Notification System
“An Early Notification System be established by each City department, commission, and the City Council, and its committees to provide Neighborhood Councils with a minimum of 60 days notice of any proposed action. For any proposed ballot measure or ordinance Neighborhood Councils must receive at least 60 days notice.”
2) Initiation of Council files
“Neighborhood Councils should have the right to open Council files. No Neighborhood Council board member shall be required to file a financial disclosure form for a Neighborhood Council to open a Council file. There shall be no limit on the number of Council files that a Neighborhood Council may open each year.”
3) Community Impact Statements
“City agendas should once again include the full text of the brief Community Impact Statement from each Neighborhood Council submitting one, with links to any background materials that were provided as support. Any time a Community Impact Statement is, for whatever reason removed from a subsequent agenda, the City Clerk will send a notice to the Neighborhood Council.”
4) Neighborhood Councils presenting at public meetings
“Official Neighborhood Council or Neighborhood Council Alliance representatives addressing the City Council, its committees, City commissions, and boards be granted up to 5 minutes of presentation time separate from general public comment, to present the official view of the Neighborhood Council Board or Alliance. Neighborhood Councils should receive priority as City entities and be called for comment before general public comment.”
5) Funding and Grants
“Unexpended neighborhood council funds should be kept in the neighborhood council system, received and administered by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.
Neighborhood Councils should be allowed to provide funds to city departments provided that the equipment benefits stakeholders, that in addition to the initial requestor there is documentation of the need from a higher level of the department, and that the transfer is accompanied by an MOU, agreement, or a form similar to a neighborhood purposes grant.
Overriding principle should be that in the absence of conflicts of interests, the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment should be empowered to seek and receive funds appropriate to their mission and support their operations.”
“The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment is to be permanently placed in charge of administering elections.”
Can Neighborhood Councils and individuals still weigh in on these recommendations? Yes. Once the City Council receives the recommendations and once Council files are created, Neighborhood Council boards can officially weigh in through Community Impact Statements and individuals can share their thoughts through public comment.
Finally, while six (6) NC Plan Review committee recommendations were adopted by the Commission, three (3) additional NC Plan Review committee recommendations have yet to be heard and/or decided upon. At its upcoming Board Planning Retreat on Monday, January 27, the Commission will consider a motion about establishing best practices for monitoring the delivery of City services. And at its upcoming regular meeting on Tuesday, February 4, the Commission will consider two motions regarding 1) Neighborhood Council posting policies and 2) Training requirements/offerings. For further details as they become available on the upcoming Commission meetings, follow the EmpowerLA Events Calendar at EmpowerLA.org.