Viewpoint: Pacific Palisades Community Council Advantages Highlighted

By Maryam Zar
Community Council President

I very much enjoyed your light-hearted review of our recent PPCC meeting

With regard to your suggestion that we convert from a Community Council to a Neighborhood Council, I have to say that from an NC standpoint, they get the short end of the stick.

At Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC) meetings (comprising 13 Neighborhood and Community Councils), I hear NC leaders lament their lack of autonomy. They feel they work for the mayor and are beholden to the City. They get their marching orders from City agencies that ask them to advocate for one thing or another, and feel they have no choice but to comply.

Even the City “funding” that you conceptualize as a generous trove that comes with no strings, to be spent “on us,” isn’t so. The money to NCs either doesn’t come in or, when it does, it comes with strings. This prompted the new WRAC Chair to host a “Treasurers Meeting,” so that someone from the City could coach NC treasurers.

To demonstrate how difficult that money is to spend, take for instance last month when the Zimmer and Melvoin LAUSD campaigns wished to participate in a WRAC-sponsored forum. Members were eager to host the event, but none of them contributed money to fund the forum.

So it was up to the Brentwood Community Council and our own Community Council, who had autonomy to act without City approval, to provide the certificate of liability insurance and $190 to secure the space and hold the forum. PPCC chairs and presidents before me can attest to the fact that we are far better off as an influential CC than yet another NC. A good example is the recent massive show of West L.A. Traffic police on our streets, in response to our call for action on motorcycle safety. That came with effective advocacy rooted in good relationships built by our CC leaders, with a sensible undertone and a responsible track record.

It is simply perilous to this community’s well-being to suggest that an NC would serve us better than a long-standing, well-respected CC, powered by dedicated community volunteers.

Two years ago, the PPCC held a meeting to discuss the issue of CC versus NC. Speaker after speaker made it clear that the PPCC was doing a fine job of representing the interests of this community, and that it had carved out and cemented the kind of voice that other communities are trying to attain, through the formation of NCs. All speakers emhasized that there were numerous bureaucratic guidelines, indeed hur- dles, which regularly inhibit the work of NCs.

In my view, having formed our Community Council back in 1972, well before the NC system, we here in the Palisades have carved a special place for our CC in the halls of city, state and county government.

The PPCC and its volunteer board effectively represent this community. We candidly debate the issues that affect our town in an open and commendable manner. If there are elements that in the view of some need amending, we are all best served by working to perfect this body, not reinvent it.

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