In one of my Musings on September 29, (“VIBRANT OR HO-HUM?”), I noted that while researching a story about Councilman David Ryu’s motion seeking to halt construction during the fire season in Very High Fire Severity Zones, I went to the Bel-Air/Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council Agenda (https://www.babcnc.org/docs/34485692-9891.pdf). I urged readers to compare that agenda with our local Pacific Palisades Community Council (pacpalicc.org). “One appears vibrant, organized and looks like it is taken seriously by government officials. The other . . . you decide.”
The response was rapid. One reader wrote, “Enough with the cheap shots about the Community Council. This is a volunteer group, working on behalf of Pacific Palisades residents, and Neighborhood Councils have a $50,000 budget to hire people.”
Mary Cole, who was active in the community before moving to Palm Desert, wrote: “Having served on the Community Council for many years, I am shocked to see the extensive agenda for the Bel-Air/ Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council meeting. I am surprised that they get anyone to serve. Our agendas never looked like that but we did get the job done!”
Circling the News noticed that the PPCC was not given a specific time to speak when the City Planning Commission discussed the multi-use building proposed for the former Jack-in-the-Box site on Sunset on August 27, although Neighborhood Councils were allowed. (Several PPCC members did speak during public comment.) The Commission disregarded the PPCC’s letter that strongly opposed the project.
Reviewing various projects listed on the PPCC website, I was reminded that our City Councilman, Mike Bonin, appeared to ignore the positions taken by our local council.
At the PPCC’s recent candidate forum for Area Representative positions, At-Large Representative Adam Goldsmith expressed interest in trying to determine how the PPCC could be taken more seriously by the City.
This would be a good project for PPCC members to pursue.
I also did some fact-checking about Neighborhood Councils. According to the Los Angeles City website: “Neighborhood Council board members are City officials who are elected by the members of their local communities, but they donate their time as volunteers.”
However, Neighborhood Councils do have a budget, and a booklet titled “Neighborhood Council Funding Program, Policies & Guidelines” spells out how money can and can’t be spent (https://clerk.lacity.org/sites/g/files/wph606/f/NCFP%20Policies%2007.19.18%20Final.pdf).
The booklet states: “All funding-related matters must be included on a board agenda, discussed and approved at a public meeting that complies with all Brown Act and other meeting notification requirements. The board should include enough information on the agenda regarding a funding matter so that the public can make a reasonable decision whether they would like to attend and provide their input on the matter.
“Pursuant to Los Angeles Administrative Code Section 22.810.1(g), NCs are to spend the funds on the functions, operations, outreach and projects of the NC.”
A Neighborhood Council’s annual budget “is comprised of the following expenditure categories: i. General and Operational Expenditures (comprised of three subcategories) 1. Office/Operational 2. Outreach 3. Elections, ii. Neighborhood Purposes Grants and iii. Community Improvement Projects.”
According to the booklet, Neighborhood Councils can issue grants to nonprofits and public schools and can sponsor or co-sponsor community activities. In Pacific Palisades, this could include the Community Council’s annual Citizen of the Year dinner and even Movies in the Park.
I think most Pacific Palisades residents would agree that whatever body represents this community, it should be taken seriously by L.A. City officials and Councilmember Mike Bonin.