From the L.A. Daily News, January 24, 2013
A recent fight over a proposed $3 billion bond issue for street repairs illustrated the growing influence of neighborhood councils in Los Angeles City government, as they exerted enough influence to keep the measure off the ballot for now.
The success in that case represents an evolution for the councils, which at their inception a dozen years ago were seen as potentially powerless because they held no real voting authority in city matters. But through wider participation and exerting a louder voice, observers say, they are now fulfilling the influential role envisioned for them when voters revised the City Charter in 1999.
“This is what it was meant to be,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at California State University, Los Angeles, and who served as the top aide to the appointed Charter Reform Commission.
“They were meant to be a strong community voice and weigh in on major issues. It might be annoying (to the City Council, but the whole idea was to create a different form of review and allow the community to weigh in.”
The street bond proposal from Councilmen Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino provided the perfect vehicle for neighborhood councils to weigh in.
Englander and Buscaino proposed on a Friday afternoon to have the council vote the following week to place the bond on the May 21 ballot, without any formal staff reports and only sketchy details on the cost for the public.
Neighborhood council groups, starting with the Los Angeles Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, and supported by the Valley Alliance and others, called for a 60-day delay to allow time for review of the proposal. City Council offices began receiving telephone calls of protest from homeowners. The public outcry forced the council to (more…)