Wednesday, December 11

WWNC to pursue shared custody of Westwood in event of council vote loss

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the Westwood Neighborhood Council oversees the Pershing Square community. In fact, it oversees the Persian Square community.

Members of the Westwood Neighborhood Council said at a meeting Wednesday night they want to share custody of Westwood Village if community members vote to create the North Westwood Neighborhood Council.

The council unanimously passed a motion to designate the Village a shared resource between the current council and the proposed North Westwood Neighborhood Council. Westwood Forward, a coalition of students, homeowners and business owners, submitted an application to form the new council in December, and voters can decide whether to approve the council’s formation on May 22.

If approved, the new council would split from the current council and consist of UCLA, Westwood Village and the North Village. Currently, the Westwood Neighborhood Council oversees a larger region of West Los Angeles, including the Persian Square community and Holmby Hills, in addition to the areas within the boundaries in Westwood Forward’s council proposal.

Sandy Brown, council vice president and Westside Regional Alliance of Councils representative, introduced the motion after submitting a letter to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, the city department that oversees neighborhood councils, requesting the Village be made a shared resource.

According to the department’s plan for city councils, neighborhood council boundaries cannot overlap unless the overlapping area is intended for public use, like a school, police station or park, or contains a cultural or historically significant landmark.

Brown said the department and the city attorney’s office rejected the council’s proposal to share the Village, but added she thinks the city was unclear about its reasons for the decision.

Gibson Nyambura, a neighborhood council advocate from the department, said although the Village contains some landmarks within its area, the department and the city attorney could not consider the entire Village a shared area. He added a newly formed North Westwood Neighborhood Council and the current council could consider shared boundaries should Westwood Forward be successful in its May vote.

“If Westwood Forward wins the election to form a new council, the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners will do a boundary adjustment, during which both councils will have an opportunity to bring things like this up,” he said.

Although the council approved the motion despite disagreeing with the city’s ruling, the boundaries cannot be officially changed without city approval.

Michael Skiles, president of the Graduate Students Association and a member of Westwood Forward, said he thinks the council’s vote was an attempt to undermine the coalition.

“I want you to know that this is yet another attempt to cloud the election and prevent your constituents from exercising their right to make a democratic decision,” Skiles said. “This is petty, and the city has already told you this is illegal, and yet you continue to try and do it to cast a dark cloud over the election and discourage your constituents ahead of this election.”

Council President Lisa Chapman said she thinks the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment is using the Westwood Forward coalition to create more neighborhood councils, since adding new councils increases its budget.

“We’re not stupid here, we know that Mayor (Eric) Garcetti wants to get the city to a hundred neighborhood councils,” Chapman said. “I’m totally fine with (Westwood Forward) having a neighborhood council, I think they should have one for the students, but this has become a free-for-all.”

Former council president Jerry Brown said he thinks Westwood Village is a public-use area and believes the city attorney’s decision should be overturned.

“Westwood Village … is an enormous shopping center, it is an entertainment center, it is an educational center, it is a museum center,” Jerry Brown said. “To say that Westwood standing on its own is not a shareable asset is asinine.”

Voting locations have yet to be decided. All stakeholders are eligible to vote if they attend classes, work or operate within WWNC’s boundaries for any other reasons. Voters need to self-affirm their stakeholder status in order to cast their ballots.

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Senior staff columnist

Said was an assistant Opinion editor from 2018-2019. He previously contributed as an opinion columnist for the section and writes about issues surrounding diversity and student life. He also manages the Daily Bruin's various podcasts.

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  • Hooraj

    As a member of the community who is not a student, I am more than happy to vote for Westwood Forward on May 22nd and have them represent me. They are not a student organization, they are a community organization supported by residents, workers, students, and other members.

    The current council should be focusing on making their case to the community and not on crying foul or trying to weasel their way into keeping power. That they aren’t able to explain why they deserve to stay in power speaks volumes.

    The current council seems unwilling to accept that the community is going to get to have a fair vote regarding the future of the area. It is disrespectful to the community to try to deny this choice. Stop whining and make your case so the voters can make a more informed choice.

  • Lisa Chapman

    Thanks Hooraj, it’s always great for the public to hear opinions from those hiding behind their anonymity while trashing others. The WWNC is not “weaseling” to stay in power. Our council doesn’t go away even if Westwood Forward happens to win this election. And if they do win and form a new council, the power in Westwood Village will be shared between the two councils, as that is how the city has written it’s rules. We are just illustrating the obvious. Our record makes it’s case, and Westwood Forward has no record. You may vote however you like, and obviously you are free to insult the WWNC as you wish, and as you always do, behind your anonymous posts. Who is more transparent do you suppose? We support a fair election, and thus far, the city has only been fair to one side, and it’s not ours. But here’s to a fair election!
    Daily Bruin…please correct…it is PERSIAN SQUARE, not PERSHING SQUARE. Thanks.

    • Hooraj

      If your record is Westwood over the past years, then your record definitely makes a case, loud and clear.

      Here’s an example of where I think you display how bad you are for the whole community. Your council wanted this vote held on the weekend so that the homeowners who work outside the area will be able to participate in the vote. That has been your “side.” Westwood Forward wanted the vote during the week so that workers and students are able to more easily participate in the vote. It was decided to have the vote during the week and with hours until 7pm (I believe) to try to best accommodate the most amount of people. I think it’s a fact that this gives the most amount of people the opportunity to vote, so it was a fair decision (number of workers + students > number of homeowners). For the smaller group that can’t make it to the vote, I believe that mail-in voting is possible.

      You see this as unfair because your “side” has been disadvantaged.
      I see this as fair because the largest amount of the community will be able to vote, no matter their status.
      There are no “sides” when it comes to holding this vote, it’s about allowing the most amount of stakeholders (students, homeowners, renters, workers, and other community members with everyone equally having one vote) the opportunity to vote.
      So yes, you are whining about the vote being fair just because it’s not on the weekend.

      Also, the current council doesn’t even seem forward thinking enough to realize that a lot of community members who never paid attention to community governance are going to be voting in this upcoming election. Instead of wasting time complaining about conspiracies concerning Mayor Garcetti or that someone anonymous is “trashing” you, perhaps use this opportunity to explain who you all are, what you all have done, and what your ideas for the future are in contrast to Westwood Forward. For whatever judgment I make, I offer constructive criticism on how to change.

    • maverick

      I cannot wait for you stingy old trolls to get ousted from making decisions for our college town. It is amusing watching all of you desperately clutch onto the power that is now finally shifting into the community’s hands.

      • Lisa Chapman

        LOL. Talk about trolling, this was from 6 months ago! get a life!

  • Hooraj

    Vote by mail registration is now open!

    Takes only 5 minutes and anyone who works, lives, owns property, or just has a community interest can sign up for a vote by mail ballot – you DO NOT need to live in Westwood, you only need to have a connection to the area.