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Community Engagement in Planning and Development: Neighborhood Councils in Los Angeles

Mark Elliot, Kyu-Nahm Jun, and Juliet Musso
This paper presents preliminary evidence of the manner in which neighborhood councils in Los Angeles are engaging in land use and planning. Charter reform in 1999 in Los Angeles authorized creation of a system of neighborhood councils charged with increasing participation in city governance and making local government more responsive to community concerns. Neighborhood councils were intended to place community members in a position to act rather than merely react to policies and decisions handed down from City Hall – what scholars of political engagement describe as doing politics, rather than merely being attentive to politics. While NCs were endowed with advisory capacity only, the charter created several channels to facilitate their provision of input on city policy formation and administration: • Provision that neighborhood councils would have an opportunity to provide budget input to the Mayor to be considered in development of the annual budget; • Development of an early notification system to inform community members of matters before the city council and its boards and commissions; and • Requirement that neighborhood councils monitor service delivery and meet regularly with departmental officials.