CITY WATCH-On February 3rd the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition … originally called a congress … will wrap up its eighth year. This seems like an appropriate time for a bit of introspection … and to consider whether the LANCC has lived up to its lofty promise of providing a citywide voice for LA’s neighborhood councils, diversity, education for NCs, education of the public, government and more. This is the first of a three-part series … a stage-setter … a repost of a CityWatch column on the LANCC published just a few days before the first official February 4, 2006 LANCC meeting.
(Photo: Then Councilwoman Janice Hahn speaks to first LANCC attendees.)
The New NC Congress: Will it Live Up to the Framers Vision?
By Ken Draper (January 30, 2006)
A coalition of Neighborhood Councils will launch their own Congress next weekend. The idea is that NCs citywide can gather to network and to discuss and act on issues. The coalition was formed independently with some of the same grassroots passion and energy that filled workshops and hearing rooms when Neighborhood Councils were forming five years ago. Whether this fledgling group can come together and fulfill their dream … and the vision of some of those who crafted the LA NC concept … no one knows for certain. But one thing we do know: It isn’t a new idea.
The seed for an LA system of Neighborhood Councils … then called “A Family of Neighborhoods” … was planted in the offices of then Councilman Joel Wachs back in the early 1990’s. Wachs offered the first motion to establish “independent neighborhood councils” in June of 1996. It included the following: “Additionally, leaders from each of the neighborhood councils will convene at least quarterly as a citywide Neighborhood Congress to discuss citywide matters such as City Charter amendments, ordinances, initiatives, programs, multi-cultural dialogue and the general overall course of the city.”
The motion also noted that the “key to success of neighborhood councils must be their independence from City Hall, and their ability to truly represent the diverse interests of their community.”
DONE GM, Greg Nelson, worked for Wachs at the time. While Wachs was the mover, Nelson gave birth to the idea, did the research and provided Wachs with the substance he needed to form his vision and belief in the NC concept. The Neighborhood Congress language that appeared in Wachs’ 1998 motion, came from a Nelson “Family of Neighborhoods” memo dated April 17, 1995.
Striking in both the memo and the motion is the emphasis on the importance of Neighborhood Councils being independent of City Hall and the great faith that these citywide neighborhood groups would deal with matters of such import as “City Charter changes, ordinances, initiatives, citywide programs and the general overall course of the city.” Heady stuff from these visionaries.
Now comes the test. Can Neighborhood Council leaders park their egos and cynicism at the door and fulfill the promise that Wachs … and the motion-signers, Mark Ridley Thomas, Laura Chick, Richard Alatorre, Marvin Braude, Michael Feuer and Rudy Svorinich imagined? The clock starts on the answer to that question on February 4. ◘
The history that lead up to the creation of the LANCC and the promises of that first LANCC Charter in Part 2 of this series … next Thursday.
(Ken Draper is the editor of CityWatch. He can be reached at Ken@CityWatchLA.com)
Vol 13 Issue 5
Pub: Jan 16, 2015