The following report is an evaluation of the progress of the Neighborhood Councils established in the city of Los Angeles beginning in 1999 in order to alow more citizen participation in municipal government and planning. Click on the link below to read the full report, and visit the D.O.N.E. (Department of Nieghborhood Empowerment) website for more information. - Editor
Reporting on a study supported by the James Irvine Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, and the USC Urban Initiative
In June 1999, Los Angeles voters enacted charter provisions creating a citywide system of Neighborhood Councils (NCs). The charter states that the broad goal of the reform is “to promote more citizen participation in government and make government more responsive to local needs.” Three years have passed since the City Council approved a plan for charter implementation, and the 2006 charter-mandated review of the Neighborhood Council system is approaching.
Other cities required many years to implement fully a Neighborhood Council system, suggesting that the Los Angeles system is still in a formative stage. This briefing considers whether midstream corrections are in order, and suggests benchmarks against which to evaluate outcomes over time.2 The criteria applied in this evaluation include democratic legitimacy, the extent to which NCs provide meaningful input on city decisions (relevance), and the extent to which NCs appear to have the potential to influence City policies and develop relationships that bring together diverse groups within and across communities.
We find that:
- Democratic legitimacy requires policy reforms to ensure that Council elections are fair and inclusive:
- Policy relevance necessitates development of avenues for systematic participation in City governance;
- While it is too early to evaluate their long-term input, we suggest several benchmarks, including the quality of NC activities and impacts, the development of social and political relationships, and the impact of the system on political efficacy and attitudes toward City government.
To Read the full report click HERE...
See also the D.O.N.E. website: