Los Angeles Retooling its Neighborhood Representation Experiment

After 10 years in operation, the Neighborhood Council system in L.A. represents a great deal of unfulfilled potential, say City Councilmember Paul Krekorian. With that, and the city's dire financial straits in mind, Krekorian is proposing reforms.

2 minute read

August 3, 2011, 6:00 AM PDT

By Tim Halbur

Neighborhood Councils are one of the more official avenues for neighborhood stakeholders to provide feedback about development in Los Angeles. Councilmember Krekorian discusses the Neighborhood Council system as well as the development reform effort recently announced in Los Angeles in this interview.

On Neighborhood Councils:

"About ten years into this, the neighborhood council movement has evolved. When it began, it was an effort to organize communities and give them a voice. Now, a decade into the process, we have 95 organized neighborhood councils throughout the city. We have passed the point of launching a new experiment in neighborhood democracy. We're now at a point of figuring out how to make the vibrant, robust neighborhood council process even better."

"There is a strong sense among almost all neighborhood councils that despite their advocacy for their communities, despite their volunteerism, and despite the passion and energy that they bring to this city, too often the power structure of the city neglects to take their views into account."

On development process reform:

"Everyone agrees we need to fast-track the process. At the end of that process, we won't necessarily expedite getting to "yes." We might also expedite getting to "no." The arbitrariness and inefficiency of the process aggravates developers, communities, and just about everybody. Business people and developers would rather have a fast "no" than a long, delayed "yes.""

"Unfortunately, most of the heavy lifting of this effort is going to require additional funding, for example, to create uniformity in the computer systems used by the various departments. As you pointed out, updating community plans and specific plans will take substantial investment, which we're not able to make right now."

Thanks to James Brasuell

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