My First Neighborhood Council Meeting

Last Thursday I attended a meeting for the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council, held less than a block away from me. I’ve had some interest for a while to get more involved in the community, and thought seeing how one my neighborhood council works would be interesting.

This is dry stuff, so I’m sticking it all behind the jump…

Instead, I walked away with the impression that my local neighborhood council is an ineffective waste of resources. Maybe I’d just attended a bad session. Or maybe the problem should simply incite me to get involved and try and contribute what I can to improve its usefulness. Alas, I’m a blogger so the first thing I have to is complain about it here.

When I first arrived, there were a dozen people in the “audience” in front of the council that out numbered them. By the time they finished discussing such topics as “outreach” and how councilmembers would be compensated for expenses, almost and hour and a half had passed, and the number of average citizens in the audience had dwindled down to four.

One item that was discussed at length was an outreach event called “Splash Bash”, held last year at Hollywood & Highland. From what I could gather, this was supposedly the largest and most successful “outreach” event in the short history of all L.A. Neighborhood Councils. The idea was to entice residents to come to the event for free food and hear about what good the council has done, in an effort to get people more involved. On a personal note, this is the first time I had ever heard of “Splash Bash”, in spite of the amount of reading I do about events going on in my neighborhood. After a lengthy debate and discussion, they finally voted to move forward on another similar event this year.

To be fair, a few other local items or real relevence were discussed, but not before most of the residents who’d shown up to see the procedings had left.

Unfortunately, many of the items that were put forward to vote on seemed to indicate that the councilmembers proposing them had done a weak job of researching issues surrounding said items. Paul Woolsey proposed that all streets in Area 3 (the Whitley Heights neighborhood and surrounding area) have speed bumps installed didn’t seem aware of the logistical and rational reasons behind why the DOT might refuse to do so. Area 5 committee chair Michael P. Peyer was insisting that plans for a cell phone tower at the corner of Mulholland and Outpost be modified for aesthetic reasons, but admitted he never contacted the cell phone company (Verizon) to find out if changing such plans might impact service.

There was a also a motion by Area 8 committe chair Ken Jones to be reimbursed a little more than $50 for some flimsy signs he’d made that read “NO SMOKING IN THE CANYON” that he passed out to other councilmembers and the four people remaining in the audience. He explained the idea was to keep these in your car, and to hold them up if you saw another drive in the Hollywood Hills who was driving while smoking. I couldn’t for the life of me recall if there were any roads in the Hollywood Hills, besides Cahuenga, that had more than one lane in either direction that would allow me to pull along someone and flash the sign. This isn’t to mention the dangers of driving with one hand throughout the hills and canyons, so you could “tsk tsk” someone for smoking.

After this, I had to leave, so I missed the next item on the agenda: an update on the Hollywood Central Park being proposed to be built over the 101 Freeway. While this is outside of our Neighborhood Council district, I understand that discussion is relevent as the park’s construction and operation would strongly impact our residents, but I’d have preferred to hear more about what the Council was actual doing to improve my quality of life.

For all I know, this is typical of larger Neighborhood Council meetings, and more productive stuff is happening that gets reported at smaller committee meetings. Any insight is appreciated…

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5 Replies to “My First Neighborhood Council Meeting”

  1. I’m sad that your first experience with Neighborhood Councils was not a positive one. There are those in the City that do talk about the neighborhood more. Reseda NC seems to be doing well, as evident by their City Nerd Award. Also, Mid-City West NC has been fairly successful (they set up a police Sub-stuation a few years back). I’d not give up on the whole system based on your first experience. Out of 87 councils, not all are as good as the best or bad as the worst.

    I guess the last thing I’ll say is the only way to truly improve the effectiveness of your local Neighborhood Council is to get involved. With a slate of candidates (think college elections), a council can be transformed. Whether for better or worse -that’s up to the citizens who get involved.

  2. Yes, NC meetings can get a bit tedious with talk of reimbursements and bylaws. I personally believe those should be left for later in the agenda as a marketing technique. Put the hot-button issues first and the boring must-do administrative work to the end.

    A lot of the good work gets done in committees. With a committee I co-chair in the Sherman Oaks NC, we just had an outreach event to make constituents aware of emergency preparedness. We have also tackled issues such as transient encampments, CHP relations, illegal businesses operating out of homes and succeeded at them.

    Another committee, the Beautification Committee which is made up of the NC, the HOA, the Chamber and the Bid are doing community clean-ups every month.

    Lots of work can get done, but it is up to each individual to step it up and do what they can. After all, we are all volunteers when it comes to this.

    I look forward to hearing more tales from your NC!

  3. i hear ya dm… went to a few local council meetings and to say that i was less than impressed would be an understatement… lol…what a smug self important bunch of twats…then i realized that you get what you paid for… and these are all volunteer weekend warriors… my friend got elected and said they were the biggest idiots she ever met… what a waste of city money! they should get rid of them and funnel the money into more cops on the street!

  4. The L.A. City Council LOVES the NC’s. It keeps the neighborhood gadflies yelling at each other, instead of yelling at the City Council.

    Scientology also loves the NC’s also because it gives them more pull in the areas they are trying to absorb into their collective. Don’t take my word for it. Ask your NC how many are friends of L. Ron.

  5. So true. The Scientologists love the NCs. I thought I’d volunteer my time and attended my local NC Public Safety Committee meeting (I live in Silver Lake) only to discover that the head of the Committee is a local Scientologist crazy lady. It was obvious to me that she didn’t care about fighting crime but was only interested in setting up an emergency system just like the one that had Scientologists setting up tents at Ground Zero on 9/11. So when a disaster hits Silverlake, you can sleep easily knowing the Scientologists will be running things. Creepy.

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