Echo Park council takes steps to improve attendance and participation

By Mary A. Allen

The Echo Park neighborhood council met on Tuesday night to consider proposals to improve attendance and conduct in a meeting that was punctuated by heated exchanges between board members and yelling and screaming by members of the public. The  meeting began 20 minutes late as a lack of a quorum prevented the council from taking up an agenda that – ironically – included a proposal to make it easier to conduct committee meetings with fewer members present. Once enough voting members showed up, the board of governors approved  two new rules regulating speaking time and conduct, the passage of which triggered some tense remarks among the sharply divided board. “This board is a failure,” said member Stephen Stickler.

Public comment ensued, with community members yelling out of turn and prompting a defensive stance from the board leadership.

The governing board of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council also approved reducing the number of board members required at both the Budget & Finance Committee and the Public Safety, Outreach and Community Concerns committee in order to increase the likelihood of achieving the quorum necessary to conduct business.

Other issues taken up at the meeting:

Encouraging Developers to Give Back

In an effort to encourage developers to use and purchase resources within the community, council passed an item that creates the policy or condition where projects over $5 million dollars are required to hire locally and purchase goods and services from local businesses. To assist with this effort GEPENC will establish a neighborhood job bank to share with developers. Future developers in Echo Park will be able to turn to the neighborhood council when looking for labor and supplies.  However, as an advisory group, the neighborhood council has no power to enforce any commitments made by developers.

Police Presence
Senior Lead Officer Lewis Ford from Rampart Division reported a reduction in crime south of Sunset Boulevard and attributed some of the improvement to the closure of Echo Park Lake He cautioned residents that displaced Echo Park Lake denizens may now be lurking in neighborhood alleys.

As part of a current campaign promoted by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Officer Ford alerted residents that they can “Just say no”, if stopped by police. According to tenants of Constitutional Policing, citizens are not required to respond to police officer questioning. That is unless, police have probably cause or reasonable suspicion. Then you may as well just put your hands up.

Budget Items Approved

  • $500 retroactive approval for support of Rampart Division’s National Night Out on August 2, 2011.
  • $350 for four pop-up tents to be used for GEPENC outreach events
  • $500 to defray annual GEPENC printing costs
  • $300 for participation in Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) annual congress on September 24
  • $500 to support Foreclosure Town Hall event on September 17

Dates to Note

  • September 17   Free Northeast LA Home Rescue Fair Assembly Member Gilbert Cedillo’s Forclosure Prevention Town Hall 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Goodwill Industries 342 N. San Fernando Road
  • September 24,  DONE sponsored Annual Congress of Neighborhood Councils

Opportunitites for Participation

  • Help staff Assembly Member Gilbert Cedillo’s Northeast Home Rescue Fair on Saturday, September 17. Morning and afternoon shifts available. Call Communications Director Conrado Terrazas for more information (323) 225-4545.
  • Represent your neighborhood as a GEPENC Stakeholder. Vacancy open for District 2.

New member
The board approved the appointment of community member Kwazi Nkrumah as Stakeholder in GEPENC District 1.

No comments

  1. “Future developers in Echo Park will be able to turn to the neighborhood council when looking for labor and supplies. ”

    Turn to the neighborhood council for labor help? Oh wow. That is hilarious.
    I guess they’re really trying to chase away the developers!

  2. Those “heated exchanges” and “yelling and screaming” are so de rigeur for the Neighborhood Council that sane people who might consider participating in local politics are driven away very quickly. I lasted 1.5 meetings before I gave up. Nothing was getting done and everyone had an opinion they felt needed to be expressed loudly, whenever they wanted.

  3. Ms. Allen:
    If you ever need an exact account of a meeting pertaining to the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council (not the “Echo Park neighborhood council”), please contact me. I have been taping this neighborhood council for three years, and at times your take on last night’s meeting is different from what was recorded.
    The facts, Ms. Allen, the facts.

    Cindy Ortiz

    P.S. I do believe this neighborhood council is taking resumes (yes, resumes!!!) to fill representative (not stakeholder) positions in district 1 and in district 2.

  4. It is disappointing that the journalist failed to cover in any depth the remarks
    made by elected representative, Stephen Stickler, GEPENC District 4. His summary of the lack lustre performance to meaningfully serve community was
    revealing and accurately presented. This from a two-term elected Representative.
    Where were you Mary Allen when Stephen Sticker gave his analysis? How unfortunate that the journalist was not present at the June 2009 GEPENC Grievance Hearing as well……..

  5. It is unfortunate what came out of last night’s neighborhood council meeting was the quote of a Board Member who has attended 4 or 5 Board meetings over the last 18 months.

    His remarks and point of view were not completely accurate in regards to the accomplishments of the neighborhood council. I could imagine it being difficult to understand given the limited time and energy one could dedicate to the neighborhood council with that type of attendance record.

    While I respect his point of view on the structure and leadership of the neighborhood council, I respectfully disagree on the overall assessment of the board being a “failure:.

    I agree that we can always improve and grow in our leadership roles on the neighborhood council, especially in our outreach with the local community.

    However, the neighborhood council has worked hard to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood through its many neighborhood clean ups, support of local schools, libraries and recreation center activities.

    We are very proud of the support we provide to community events, such as, Echo Park National Night Out, Big Sunday, the California Coastal Clean Up, the Echo Park Community Parade, the EP Time Bank, all of the 6 elementary schools in our neighborhood and numerous other community initiatives.

    One only needs to read the various articles on this blog to get an idea of the kind of work the neighborhood council has done over the last few years.

    It is unfortunate that many times a lot of the great community work we do is lnot fully covered. We can do a better job in informing the community.

    There are some professional stakeholders who sole purpose seems to find the negative in everything. These handful of people will find fault in anything and everything we do regardless of its merit and positive impact.

    I am very proud of the work the members of the neighborhood council have done to support the community, make our neighborhoods safe and increase the quality of life as best we can.

    I invite community members to get involved with the neighborhood council and its various activities throughout the year.

    Finally, I appreciate the work the EastsiderLA and its reporters do to inform the community of the many interesting happenings around the neighborhood.


    Board President

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