FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
LA City Council Proposal Threatens to Shut Down Neighborhood Councils
LOS ANGLELES, CA – 9 May 2009: A budget proposal being voted on by LA City Council on Tuesday 12 May removes millions in allocated funds for Neighborhood Councils, the volunteer bodies that coordinate many civic projects, such as beautification and zoning, that normally cost thousands of hours of City employee time or just don’t get done for lack of manpower. Opponents of the move say the threatened budget cuts could wipe out Neighborhood Councils completely by denying them even the tiny budgets they’ve been working with up to now.
Neighborhood Council members throughout the city are protesting the move, saying that it will reduce the budgets of the Neighborhood Councils by 80%. They point out that the city council is ignoring the millions of dollars the city is saving by keeping these programs completely funded.
“Most of the budgets of these NCs go right back into the city, and have resulted in a huge wave of community volunteerism unlike any other program in history,” says Tomi Lyn Bowling, Land Use Committee Chair & 1st Vice President and long time member of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. “The tiny budget that keeps these Neighborhood Councils going is actually saving the city millions more for work now done by unpaid volunteers.”
The reduction to these budgets may in fact see the end of a program that has been hailed as a huge success and a model for the rest of the country. Currently the NCs each receives a meager $50,000 per year, most of which is used to fund school projects, pay for police equipment, and community improvement. The proposed cut would leave them each with just over $11,000. That is scarcely enough to cover their meeting space rental, let alone comply with their charter requirements of outreach into their communities. In short, this cut could shut the NC program down completely.
One NC Vice President submitted the following in a letter to the LA City Council in response to the proposed cut:
“…This city is so large and composed of so many different townships that it is so easy to become a lost voice and so hard to get anything done. The NC system was the remedy for that giganticness. The promise from the mayor at the time secession was looked at was that the NC system would be strengthened to give Angelenos the ability to get things done in their communities.
When adding up the thousands of volunteer hours that have gone into city projects as a direct result of the NC system it is unconditionally clear that this program not only doesn’t cost much but it saves millions of dollars in what would otherwise cost the city in labor and equipment…”
The LA City Council Budget Committee meets Tuesday May 12th at City Hall. Those who have benefitted from the NC programs are urged to attend and make your voices heard, or write to your city council members by email or fax www.lacity.org for contact info.
Tomi Lyn Bowling