By Sue Favor
LOS ANGELES — Filing for Neighborhood Council candidacy began last week, once again giving Los Angeles residents a unique chance to be a part of city government.
Various positions on each of the 99 region-specific council bodies are up for election through the end of March, as voting will occur on a rolling basis. Candidate filings and elections will begin with Region 5, which includes the Hollywood, Pico and the greater Wilshire area.
The Neighborhood Council system was founded in 1999, in an effort to better represent residents of the diverse and differing communities of Los Angeles. Each council serves as an advisory body to the city, and advocates for its community on issues like development, homelessness and emergency preparedness. Councils are divided into 12 regions that run from the San Fernando Valley to Harbor City and Watts.
The size of each council group varies from seven board members to 35. Each council has its own board structure, with seat representatives that reflect the population. For example, some boards have seats for renters, while others have seats for equestrians.
Council members are elected by members of their community, and serve their terms as volunteers. Most board positions are two-year terms, with a few at four years. Elections are staggered so that half of the body is elected every two or four years. Each council body serves about 40,000 people, and each has a taxpayer-funded budget of about $37,000 per year. Monthly meetings are open to the public.
South L.A.’s 15 neighborhood councils are part of Regions 9 and 10, which extend from Watts to the West Adams neighborhood. Each board has combinations of representatives, at-large representatives, business owners, youth representatives and others.
Many councils have at least one vacant seat open right now, creating opportunities for new or returning board members to be elected.
Neighborhood council positions can be filled by “anyone who is part of the fabric of daily life” in their community, according to the city. That includes those who live, work or own property or a business within the council’s boundaries. Those who attend school or church within the area can also be on the board, as can the formerly incarcerated.
Though neighborhood councils are officially advisory boards, they have exerted influence considerably over the last two decades. Recent victories have included negotiating a city ratepayer’s advocate position on the Department of Water and Power Board; fighting for suitable building and zoning codes; and working with the city of Los Angeles on budget issues.
Candidate applications are online only: https://clerk.lacity.org/elections/neighborhood-council-election
Councils by region: https://empowerla.org/councils-by-service-region/
Councils by link: https://empowerla.org/councils/
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.