On Wednesday, February 6th, the Neighborhood Council System launched its Plan Review process with the working groups made up of present and former NC members from across the City. As a representative in the Central/East Region I was accompanied by a group of NC heavy weights; some new to the system, eager to immerse themselves, and some seasoned veterans who had been part of the initial founding of neighborhood councils, had worked in and with several City departments and who’s experience would be invaluable to the huge process we were about to undertake.
We elected our co-chair, and I nervously accepted a vice-chair nomination before we began with the day’s business: stakeholder definitions. Throughout the discussions the only thing more impressive than the experience and knowledge that comprised our diverse group of panelists, was the passion and earnestness with which the audience that joined us expressed their public comments, suggestions, frustrations and solutions. It was obvious that everyone in attendance had roots and a shared history in their neighborhoods, and it reminded me of why I volunteered to be a part of this process in the first place.
My first job, as soon as I could drive, was at a bakery in Lincoln Heights. While the owners saw much potential in me, only I knew how under qualified I was for the task of inputting and tracking their orders with all of their major accounts. Every day, close to the end of my shift, one of the owners would sit with me and review each error on every invoice, for me to fix before I left. This carried on for at least a month, and every day that I worked they met with me, and explained what I had done right, and what they thought I should have learned by now. Every day they took the time to meet me half way, and after every meeting, though I may have been disappointed with how I struggled to learn the system, I was more and more motivated and encouraged to do well and make every effort to, at least, meet them half way.
Like any normal 17 year old punk I quit that job near the end of the summer, but those values jumped out at me when we kicked off the Neighborhood Council Plan Review last week. The concerns raised represented a sincere desire to not only shape the responsiveness of the Neighborhood Council System, but to set the framework for the future generations of Neighborhood Councils that will more closely align community needs with the decision makers we’ve elected and the decisions that they make.
As the NC system has developed into what we have now, ahead is an opportunity to review and improve the things that work the best and possibly standardize them: Defining a stakeholder; Open Meeting Laws, Elections & Boundaries; Funding; The work of NCs; DONE & BONCC; NC Education and Leadership Development.
For the next few months, the working groups will have public meetings and everyone is encouraged to attend or to talk to your Neighborhood Council about the plan review process. Bring us your insights, your concerns, and your vision, and meet us half way as the groups work to shape a Neighborhood Council System that works for all Angelenos.
Hector Huezo, Highland Park Neighborhood Council Board Member
For more information on the Neighborhood Council Plan Review ans Reform Initiative, visit EmpowerLA.org/NCPlan