Los Angeles’ Neighborhood Councils have now been around since the late 1990s and there are now 95 of them. Some have been part of the system from the beginning and some are new to the city’s family. But all of them have to follow city and state laws as well as their own bylaws.
So why is it that some NCs in Hollywood don’t grasp that idea that they are not here to please individual board members, individual stakeholders or individual businesses? Is it really that hard to follow simple rules that even the LA City Council has to follow?
In Hollywood we have six Neighborhood Councils: Central Hollywood (CHNC), Hollywood Hills West NC (HHWNC), East Hollywood (EHNC), Greater Griffith Park (GGPNC), Hollywood United (HUNC) and Hollywood Studio District (HSDNC). CHNC was one of the first ones certified and currently is one of the NCs that do not like to follow the city’s posting requirements for Neighborhood Councils.
The citywide plan requires that NCs post at a minimum of five posting locations and these locations are listed on most, if not all, agendas of this NC. So it should be pretty easy to find out what is going be discussed at an upcoming NC meeting, right? Wrong! Information about the CHNC meetings is very hard to come by these days.
First they don’t post online much and second, one can never find any of the posted agendas at their listed locations.
Community stakeholders were in for a shell-game when they went ahead on Sunday, November 11, 2012 to find the CHNC PLUM Meeting agenda for its Monday, November 12, 2012 meeting. The locations listed on an older agenda might give you the names of the places and the address that goes with it, but once you got to the Frances Howard Goldwyn Library at 1623 Ivar Ave for example you wouldn’t have been able to see the agenda even if the gate to the main door was open. Yes, the gate was closed and hence the agenda was inaccessible if it was even posted.
Now you can march or drive on to the next location, let’s say the St. John’s Armenian Church, which is located at the corner of Vine and Lexington, but you would have been disappointed here, too since their gates were closed as well and no agenda was visible at any of the doors either.
Third time is the charm you say? Well, not in this shell game if your next stop was the Corner Restaurant on Highland and it is located at 1156 N. Highland Ave. First of all the restaurant was closed by the time the stakeholders arrived. What a shocker. After inspecting every door and window you wouldn’t have been able to view the agenda from the outside either since it wasn’t posted there. Taking a chance of asking the employees who were leaving the joint one was given the answer that the CHNC does post inside the restaurant, but no current or new agenda was available. They even went ahead and suggested to go to the Hollywood City Hall, which for sure would have the agenda there.
Given the option to go to the Hollywood City Hall, which is roughly 0.6 miles away from the Corner Restaurant or making the next stop at the Hollywood Schoolhouse, which is just up the street on Highland and only about 0.1 miles away, the stakeholders decided to go the shorter distance since it was closer and it was cold outside.
Having visited three sites without any posting this one had to have it, right? Wrong again! – The truly shocking part though is that this location belongs to one of the CHNC board members! Why she couldn’t post it’s beyond anybody’s imagination.
No luck at four out of the five locations does discourage many, but not these stakeholders who were determined to find the agenda that evening. And what do you know? It was posted at the Hollywood City Hall location on Fountain Ave. WOW!
So, one NC did post at ONE location, even though the charter and the Citywide Plan says they have to post at FIVE. Let’s see how the other NC did for that weekend, shall we?
The Hollywood Studio District NC (HSDNC) had had its problems in the past when it comes to postings, but they did okay for a couple of times, so why was this month’s agenda yet another concern you wonder? Well, if you have three pages of an agenda ALL three pages need to be clearly visible or easily accessible to the public.
Having only the first page of the three page agenda posted from the inside of a window at a business that is not open the entire 72 hours prior to the meeting does not qualify for that reason.
Again, the HSDNC has to post its agenda in its entirety at five locations and this means that all three pages need to be visible at all times.
How else can the public review the content of the items that might be voted on at the board meeting?
When our stakeholders located the agenda at the Produce for Less Market on Melrose it was clear that there were more things listed on the agenda than just the first page said, especially since the first page indicated the very same info at the bottom of the page: Pg. 1 of 3.
But the remaining two pages were neatly tugged away behind page one, which is clearly not something one could read unless you have x-ray vision.
This happening at one location might be something to overlook, but having this situation reoccur at two other locations might be more than a coincidence and more a total disregard to the Brown Act and the public and the citywide plan.
Okay, so three out of the five posting locations had the improperly posted agenda, but what about the remaining two locations?
You would be out of luck if you went to Lemon Grove Rec Center, one of the first original posting locations for the HSDNC. No agenda was posted here at all, even though this would be prime location for it, since it is available to the public’s review 24/7.
The fifth and final location our stakeholders marched over to is the Tidal Wave Restaurant on Sunset Blvd within the Gower/Gulch shopping area. Again, this location is one of the original posting locations, but NO agenda was posted here either.
The windows of this restaurant are accessible to the public 24/7 and yet nobody went to post the three page agenda here … not even the first page.
Granted that the CHNC did post their entire agenda at one location which happens to be the location of the meeting itself, they could be considered to be in compliance with the Brown Act but not with the citywide plan.
The HSDNC did not have that luxury, so the inquiring public attended their meeting, even though the NC was put on “alert” about the non-compliance with the Brown Act via e-mail correspondence prior to the meeting.
To the public’s surprise the HSDNC did the right thing! They did hold the meeting, which gave the attending public a chance to meet the board, meet some of their Senior Lead Officers and mix and mingle over a slice of pizza, but the Board did not vote on any of the listed items, even though some of them were truly time sensitive. In fact, the HSDNC is calling a special meeting to be held as a joint meeting with its Bylaws and Election Committee. This shows that there is room for improvement and that the HSDNC is doing the best they can to correct the matter and therefor the HSDNC deserves a big pad on the back and big thank you.
So, why should we all care in the first place? Simple! The NC’s use public funds which is your money! Shouldn’t you be kept informed about where your money is being spent on? Or what development goes up in your neighborhood? Or what type of neighborhood events through the NC are coming to a neighborhood near you?
Do you know what your NC is up to these days? Do you know who your NC reps are? Here is a link to the NC data base page from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE):
The troublesome part of it all is that some NC’s do not seem to care and DONE does not interfere nor does the City Attorney give a ….
Playing a shell game like this is something one would look forward to in New York City, but being a pawn in the game of hide and seek is not anything anyone of us here in Los Angeles has signed up for.
This article is strictly the author’s opinion …