By Josh Premako, 4/05/2012
City officials may bring in mediators to help smooth things out as the Mid-City West Community Council reboots its planning and land use committee, which had nearly all its members removed March 6.
The executive council decision to remove all members of the 12-person board — save Chair Stan Brent — came in the wake of what has been described as a contentious environment. Brent is in the midst of drafting a recommendation for new appointees.
Neighborhood councils are overseen by the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. General Manager BongHwan Kim said Tuesday his department might have mediators meet with Mid-City West officials.
“Grassroots democracy can be a full-contact sport,” Kim said. “We’re going to see if we can facilitate a session to get along.”
In a statement to the board at the council’s March 13 meeting, Chair Sheryl Turner described community stakeholders and project applicants as “continually whipped around like badminton pucks among the strong personalities and personal agendas of certain members.”
The Mid-City West Community Council is one of 83 certified Los Angeles neighborhood councils. Its 45-member board weighs in on community concerns including renters’ issues, land use and development. About 42,000 people live within the council’s boundaries.
Friction among council members is not uncommon, Kim said. In general, he said, councils are entrusted with governing themselves.
“It’s really hard for us to get directly involved in the problem solving,” he said.
Brent is in the midst of drawing up a plan with recommendations for new committee member appointments, which will likely go before the executive council at its next regular meeting May 1.
While the decision only requires executive council approval, Brent said it could be wise for the entire 45-member council board to review the recommendations.
“It might behoove Mid-City West to let everybody have a say,” he said.
The motion to remove practically the entire committee was a surprise to some. Jim O’Sullivan, president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, said he’d seen tempers flare at past meetings, but nothing that would call for such drastic action.
The agenda for the March 6 executive council meeting included an item referring to “updated additions/deletions and new appointments to all committees,” which turned out to be nearly the entire planning committee.
On March 21, the La Brea-Willoughby Coalition submitted to the City Attorney’s office a complaint and request to “cure and correct” alleged violations by the executive council of the Brown Act, the state law that governs public meetings.
The City Attorney’s office did not return calls by Wednesday afternoon.
The coalition’s complaint charges that the public was not properly notified in advance of the potential action that would be taken by the executive council.
Turner said the executive council’s action was nothing scandalous.
“Members of the board are added and removed all year long,” Turner said. “It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
“I think everybody’s just ready to let it take its course… and get a great program together.”