12/21/2010 01:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

An Activist L.A. Commission Prepares for 2011

The year 2010 will go down as an extremely active and involved year for BONC, the L.A. City Board of Neighborhood Commissioners.

In early 2010, the Commission closely monitored and held multiple hearings throughout the city on the proposed merger of DONE, the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, with CDD, the Community Development Department.

The Commissioners probed the merger concept and garnered public input from City Hall officials, NC Board members and community stakeholders on any expected benefits and potential drawbacks of such a merger.

After the merger was cancelled by the City Council, the Commission helped to recover funds for five staff positions at DONE that had already been transferred to CDD and set aside during the pre-merger timeframe.

In late 2010, the Commission began an examination of the current definition of "factual basis stakeholders," as defined by a City Council ordinance, and held hearings into that definition's potential impact on the integrity of NC citywide elections. Following those discussions, the City Attorney also weighed in on that subject in a letter to the Commission detailing his office's own concerns.

During the year, the Commission began a series of discussions on ways to promote stricter adherence to State law that mandates Ethics Training for each NC Board member.

Also in 2010, the Commission closely monitored the City Clerk's work on the citywide NC elections, and held hearings as to the turnout and overall impressions of the quality and administration of those elections. That oversight and dialogue with the City Clerk regarding the future of NC elections is continuing.

In June, 2010, the Board said farewell to its President, Michele Siqueiros, who had served ably as Commissioner for five years, and the BONC elected its new Commission President, Al Abrams.

Daniel Gatica was elected Vice President, and in the fall, we welcomed a new Commissioner, Carlene Davis, representing the South Planning Area.

Commission members participated in and spoke at the CD2 Town Hall meetings held by Councilmember Paul Krekorian.

The Commission certified and welcomed three new Neighborhood Councils into the system: Westwood, Northridge South and North Hills East.

BONC supported and encouraged the work of the NC Bylaws Task Force. After receiving their final report, the Commission formally approved one of their key recommendations: A new citywide policy establishing a common structure and table of contents for all 92 sets of NC Bylaws.

Going forward in 2011:

The Commission is going to continue looking into the current definition of "factual basis stakeholders" and its effect on fair and transparent NC citywide elections.

The Commission will be discussing a possible new citywide policy directive that would establish one or two seats on every NC Board reserved only for factual based stakeholder voters and candidates who would only be able to run or vote for those seats. This remedy has already been shown to be effective by several NCs, such as Tarzana and Venice, which have written this rule of set-aside seats for factual based stakeholders into their bylaws.

The proposed policy would prevent individuals outside an NC's borders from possibly flooding the polls with non-resident "voters" seeking to take over an NC Board.

The Commission will also look into the potential weakness of allowing "self-affirmed" factual-based stakeholders to vote by instituting a requirement for stronger proof of residency with physical ID verification and voter pre-registration, two recommendations that were suggested by the City Attorney.

The Board will be discussing the results of the CD2 Town Hall meetings held in 2010, as spelled out in the final report provided by Councilmember Paul Krekorian and his staff.

We will be teaming with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and the Ethics Commission to create online Ethics Training for the City's Spanish-speaking and Korean-speaking NC Board members who have not had access to the required ethics training in their native language.

The Commission will be certifying new potential NCs coming into the system including North Hollywood West, Westlake, and others.

We will be working with the City Council members who serve on the Education and Neighborhood Committee, the City Clerk and staff, and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to help increase awareness for more efficient and more highly publicized NC elections in 2012.

In 2011, we will be assisting the new NC Mentoring Teams to help the under-performing Neighborhood Councils "learn the ropes" and reach their full potential. We will also be looking into the possibility of establishing Regional NC Grievance Boards, under the Commission's jurisdiction, for local resolution of disputes and complaints.

BONC will be encouraging City Departments and other City Commissions to help NCs better monitor the City's delivery of services to its communities and neighborhoods.

We will work with the NC Budget Advocates to insure a close relationship with the Mayor's budget development team -- and we will be collaborating with DONE, the citywide NC Alliances, and the newly formed NC "Bylaws Resource Teams" to insure that modernization of NC bylaws continues and evolves.

The BONC is an "open door" Commission and we always encourage live and written public comment and input on all issues facing the NCs and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, for whom we set policy and provide oversight.

We welcome all NC Board members, stakeholders and Los Angeles residents to attend the Commission's meetings which are held twice a month.

One BONC meeting is held on the third Monday of every month, at 11:30 AM, at City Hall, in Room 1060. The second monthly Commission meeting is held at various locations throughout the city, on the first Tuesday of every month at 6:00 PM. All venues and upcoming agendas of the Commission's meetings are posted in advance on the Department's web site.

(You can learn more about the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners and find the monthly meeting schedules here.)

I want to thank all of LA's community and neighborhood activists, the staff of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, the Mayor's Office, and especially my fellow Commissioners, Linda Lucks, Daniel Gatica, Esther Cepeda-Hatch, Karen Mack, John Kim and Carlene Davis, for their help in making 2010 a very productive year.

The Commission intends to stay on top of all the critical issues facing Neighborhood Councils in 2011, and we look forward to another promising and effective year ahead.