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City approves first Westwood Neighborhood Council [Updated]

January 20, 2010 |  1:57 pm

Los Angeles' Board of Neighborhood Commissioners voted unanimously late Tuesday to certify the first Westwood Neighborhood Council, but it remains to be seen how the council's first board will be chosen.

About 400 people jammed Westwood United Methodist Church to air their views on whether the council was needed. The campaign for a neighborhood council has stirred controversy in Westwood, with longtime homeowners' representatives, who have wielded great influence over development and other issues for decades, squaring off against newer activists seeking to form a city-backed council. The new council will be eligible to receive city funds.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the area, suggested that commissioners defer their vote to allow for a 90-day cooling-off period. His proposal was rejected, as was UCLA's request that it be omitted from the neighborhood council's boundaries.

Despite the 7-0 vote, it remained unclear which path the new council would pursue to establish its first board. The formation team's bylaws would have allowed them to appoint themselves. But opponents contended that the board should be elected by stakeholders.

BongHwan Kim, general manager of the city's Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, said three methods for filling the 19-member board would be considered. 1) The department will persuade the city clerk to include the Westwood council in its April elections, an idea the city clerk has resisted. 2) The department will ask the city clerk to hire a vendor to hold the Westwood election. 3) The department will select a neutral party to join two council proponents and two opponents, who will then select others using agreed-upon criteria. That group would constitute the board until the next elections in 2012.

The battle appears far from over. Council opponents have incorporated a Westwood Community Council that they say would better represent the diverse community. That group appears poised to compete for the hearts and minds of residents and other stakeholders.

-- Martha Groves


[Update 3:38 p.m. BongHwan Kim, general manager of the city's Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, said three methods for filling the 19-member board would be considered. 1) The department will ask the city clerk to include the Westwood council in its April elections, an idea the city clerk has resisted. 2) The department will ask the city clerk to hire a vendor to hold the Westwood election. 3) A five-member selection committee (who would be precluded from consideration as board members) will develop criteria and processes for selecting 11 board members. Those 11 members will then select people to fill the remaining eight seats, using the same criteria and methods.
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