The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners had a special meeting on Monday, October 29 at 6 pm at Hooper Avenue Elementary School in South LA.  During the meeting, the Commission and EmpowerLA celebrated the 15 year Anniversary of the Central Alameda Neighborhood Council.  Congratulations to the Central Alameda Neighborhood Council for 15 years of service and leadership in the community!

In addition, there was a robust discussion a number of topics including discussion on providing recommendations for Council File #18-0467 on “Neighborhood Council System Reforms”.  Thank you to the many Neighborhood Council Boardmembers and stakeholders who provided public comment over many meetings.  The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners took the following actions on the proposed Neighborhood Council system reforms:

Rebranding the Department

The Commission agrees that “DONE”, “BONC”, and “EmpowerLA” are confusing to the public and even to Neighborhood Council leadership. The Commission recognizes that “EmpowerLA” was created as a brand for the NC System without the need to amend the Charter or Administrative Code. However, the Commission does not support a charter change but would support efforts to make branding changes such as the logo, social media accounts, websites, and other marketing collateral, as long as these changes are phased in over time so as not to incur a major expense that could detract from other budget priorities.


Removal of Selections

The Commission does not support the recommendations to remove the selection process but recommends that the Department come up with formal guidelines for the selection process that are clear and ensure transparency.


Board Seat Equity

The Commission does not support this recommendation for a one-time review of NC bylaws. The Commission does support equitable board seat allocation. The Commission also believes that there is an existing process whereby Neighborhood Councils review their own bylaws, address issues of seat equity, and bring bylaws changes to the Department and the Commission for review and approval/disapproval. Therefore, this reform is not necessary. However, the process could be strengthened with more data on number of businesses, residents, property owners, students, community organizations, etc. The Commission encourages the Department to coordinate with the 2020 Census and the City Controller’s Office to identify opportunities to provide NC-level data from the Census, City business tax data, and other available data.


Uniform Voting Age

The Commission supports establishing a uniform voting age of 16, include individuals under the age of 18 on boards (subject to what the law allows), and recommends that the City Council discuss and vote on this.

VOTE: 3 Yes; 2 No; 1 Abstain

Required Training for Planning and Land Use Committee

The Commission supports this recommendation and encourages the Department to establish trainings for all chairs and vice-chairs of Neighborhood Council planning and land use committees. The Commission can establish certification requirements and consequences for non-compliance, similar to our ethics and code of conduct policies.


Roll-over Funding

The Commission established an NC Funding Working Group which came up with a series of proposals that we are still evaluating and may act upon. In the meantime, the Commission supports establishing a process for rolling over funds of up to $10,000, for one year only, at the end of the fiscal year. The Commission recommends that City Council consider a percentage of the total budget rather than a dollar amount as NC budgets can fluctuate year-to-year.


Removing Expiration of the Ability for Neighborhood Councils to Accept In-Kind or Monetary Donations

The Commission does not support this reform recommendation.


Same Day Elections

The Commission agrees with this reform recommendation and believes that same-day elections warrants further study; while uniform citywide advertising and outreach has its benefits, the logistics of qualifying candidates may be too burdensome for the City Clerk’s office.


Allow Neighborhood Councils to Use City Space

The Commission supports this reform and recommendations that City Council consider and vote on Council File 16-0298 on Neighborhood Council use of City space.


Share Best Practices with All Neighborhood Councils

The Commission supports this reform and recommends that City Council provide funds to set up a Neighborhood Council “wiki” where these best practices can be shared by NCs themselves, rather than funneled through the Department.


Point of Contact Between NCs and City Departments

The Commission supports this reform recommendation with the caveat that the President of each NC be the point of contact, unless otherwise appointed.


Clarifying Community Interest Stakeholder

The Commission also discussed how the definition of a community interest stakeholder might be clarified. Their recommendations on this matter are not yet finalized, but will be shared with the public at a future Commission meeting.


The next Board of Neighborhood Commissioners will be on Monday, November 19 at 1 pm at Room 1050 of Los Angeles City Hall.