Tuesday, October 15

Editorial: WWNC shouldn’t be allowed to share jurisdiction over the Village with NWWNC


After years of broken promises and shattered dreams, the Westwood Neighborhood Council is like a lingering cold for Westwood Village.

Westwood Forward, a coalition of students, homeowners and business owners that spearheaded a vote to subdivide the current jurisdiction of the WWNC, aimed to create a new neighborhood council that is more representative of community interests. Its efforts were rewarded with a majority vote by Westwood stakeholders to create the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, a jurisdiction including North Village, the UCLA campus and Westwood Village.

In a last-ditch attempt at a power grab, however, the WWNC made a ridiculous proposition to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, a city body that oversees neighborhood councils and their bylaws: Why not have both neighborhood councils – the WWNC and NWWNC – share the Village?

Neighborhood governance is no playground sport, though. Shared jurisdiction would add layers of confusing bureaucracy to a commercial area whose governance must be streamlined to attract and retain quality business.

BONC should give no credence to the WWNC’s proposition. Doing so would run contrary to the spirit of the recent democratic vote – one in which the WWNC lost fair and square.

What makes this proposition even more ridiculous is the fact that the WWNC floated the idea before the NWWNC vote was undertaken. The council even submitted a request to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which oversees neighborhood councils and is under BONC’s purview, that the Village be designated a shared resource.

The Village area does not meet the city’s criteria for allowing council jurisdictions to overlap. It also doesn’t classify as a historical landmark, disqualifying it from the city’s exception to the prohibition on overlapping council districts.

The WWNC has insisted since the proposal of the NWWNC that the initial drawing of boundaries was unfairly skewed toward the demands of the Westwood Forward coalition. The council’s current demands are now just one in a long line of roadblocks the WWNC has erected to prolong the inevitable.

The community has spoken, and it’s clear the Village does not want the WWNC’s oversight. In fact, the Westwood Village Improvement Association, a nonprofit organization formed by business and property owners tasked with improving the Village, endorsed Westwood Forward’s proposal precisely because of the WWNC’s ineptness at attracting and sustaining business activity. Given that this was one of the main gripes that propelled the Westwood Forward campaign, it would be ludicrous to even consider giving the WWNC any control over the Village area.

Sure, it may seem the WWNC has the knowledge and experience necessary to oversee the Village. That notion, however, was dispelled the moment a majority of business owners and stakeholders voted out the WWNC. The council’s insistence on maintaining control over the Village is nothing more than an empty political maneuver, not a genuine attempt to better the neighborhood and its businesses.

BONC needs to honor the votes of hundreds of Westwood stakeholders. Business owners saw the WWNC as a bad cold – the city should let them shake it off.

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  • Lisa Chapman

    Oh Daily Bruin, this one is just sad. And incorrect, and biased. We knew we would be petitioning for shared resources as soon as Westwood Forward announced their hostile takeover (oops, I mean subdivision plans). We qualify for shared resources in every single category that DONE lists. Major thoroughfares, public use buildings, 56 historical buildings, shared schools, places of worship, and data showing Westwood Village was built to service the needs of the neighborhood and surrounding communities, etc. We have over 300 pages of documentation to support this. The Daily Bruin’s responsibility is to research these facts before issuing this false narrative, here. And of course WW Forward won their election. They had everything they asked for, and could possibly want. They were funded by Douglas Emmett, and supported by the BID. They had polling hours on a Tuesday, during classes, They served pizza to student voters, and pulled in students every hour on the hour with misinformation, stating that if they did not vote yes, Rocco’s would close and there would be no nightlife in the Village. They were told that WW Forward would get them affordable housing! We know this because we had observers there all day, witnessing these things. There were blatantly false pamphlets made up by Alex Helmi about the current council and it’s record with the Iranian community. You don’t get to make your history up, our record shows what we have done. We had no choice on the voting day or hours, most of our working families could not even come and vote because of the hours. That is the way DONE wanted things, because the goal of the mayor was to get 100 Neighborhood Councils during his term. Many of us want WW Forward to have their own council, it is one the reasons we did not list the campus and North Village as a shared resource, even though both of those areas qualify to be in every sense of the word as well. We just believe it is a very bad idea to have college students making all the decisions in a commercial area that has been supported by the neighboring community for 90 years. People that know about environmental issues, land use, transportation, and city governance, not to mention zoning laws. The WVIA (BID) is made up of property owners only, not business owners, so please correct. The property owners pay into the BID. A majority of them had no idea about WW Forward, as almost zero outreach was done by this group. As far as adding layers of bureaucracy, it didn’t have to be this way, and hundreds of communities have multiple groups to present to for approvals, Westwood would be no different. All of this could have been avoided had the students decided to just run for the current council. Perhaps you should take a closer look at WW Forward’s leader, Michael Skiles, who as the president of the pro life movement at Princeton had the view that women who had abortions should be jailed. The same person who also threw his own treasurer under the bus in another DB article on mismanaged finances, instead of taking personal responsibility. ASUCLA is a fiscal failure, so the track record of WW Forward’s leadership should be called into question.

    • planestrainsautos

      So somehow Westwood Forward was simultaneously funded by property owners and unknown to property owners? Also, you’re conflating GSA with ASUCLA (different funding sources & governing boards).

      But the main point of the column is being missed here, Lisa: there was a vote, and the voters have spoken. It was made very clear that a majority of Village stakeholders wished to SUBDIVIDE and place the Village in the hands of a new council (the ballot asked about subdivision, not partial subdivision with partial joint ownership).

      In the US we respect the results of elections, no matter how tough that can be for those whose candidates did not win. Attempts to circumvent direct democracy are not a good look and should not be rewarded by the City. It would be far more respectable if you were to request DONE to hold another election, this time asking the voters whether the Village should be a shared resource. But I have a feeling you won’t be doing that…

      • Lisa Chapman

        Thanks for responding, anonymous poster. I stated that WW Forward was funded by ONE large property owner, it was not supported by a majority of property owners in the Village, no outreach was done to most, feel free to poll them if you wish. GSA appoints to ASUCLA, which is the connection I was alluding to, but thanks for your clarification. DONE is who sets the rules for shared resources, not us, we are following their rules,as every other Neighborhood Council that has shared resources and boundaries have done. So as far as an election, no, that is not per their rules and regulations. We chose this route, because we knew the elections would be rigged in favor of the students, and they very much were. It was a very flawed process that could have been challenged in court. And as far as elections in this country, you must be referring to elections that are fair and balanced on both sides, correct? If so, your comment here has no relevance.

        • Hooraj

          Lisa, you and the WWNC did no real campaigning, only complaining.

          You did everything to whine about how unfairly the WWNC was being treated and to shout about the lies that the NWWNC were spreading, but nothing to explain why people should vote for keeping the WWNC.

          Thousands of people voted and you never took a chance to inform a single one here as to why the WWNC works for them–you just complained about what day the vote was on (when anyone could register to vote by mail if the day didn’t work), complained about how the NWWNC were liars (when you yourself were told by your own council members on Facebook that one of your reasons on a list of reasons not to vote for the NWWNC was false), and complained some more on top of all that. You are still complaining.

          The WWNC’s every move in regards to the election and trying to game the system to not lose power afterwards has been disgusting to watch–you all didn’t even try to win anyone to your side.

          The WWNC’s grasp for power is cynical and disgusting, and anyone paying attention finds the WWNC’s behavior revolting. You are tarnishing all the good you’ve done and can still do. I hope so badly that whoever is in charge of ruling over if the Village should be shared reads your posts here. You have made yourself into a complete ghoul by trying to silence everyone who voted–congrats.

          • Lisa Chapman

            There is no grasp for power, that was on the part of WW Forward and the subdivision, not by us. We could not inform anyone on this site about the WWNC, and all the great things we do, because it would have been torn down by WW Forward and the students, just as it was whenever it was brought up. Yes, thousands of people voted, and the students voted under false pretenses. They were told that this new neighborhood council would give them certain things, like affordable housing, which it cannot, and never will. I have the right to complain when falsehoods are presented to the public by this newspaper. I have a right to acknowledge that they have not researched their facts while reporting. All of this is true. There was no winning students to our side, not after the smear campaign put out there since December, and the vitriol by the students at our meetings. We concentrated on those that knew what our mission was and is, and who were able to sort out facts vs. fiction. There is no gaming of the system, we have asked for shared boundaries and resources since we found out about the subdivision plot. I am not trying to silence anyone. The 57% that voted for the new council will lose absolutely nothing by sharing boundaries. Other NC’s do this in the city. They could have chosen to run for existing seats, it would have been easy. They bagan the playing of hardball, and we need to defend our rights as well.

          • Hooraj

            Lisa, you do amazing work for the community’s homeless. It’s hard to not forget about your heart and true care at times by how you argue here–because the person you present here is pretty much a monster.

            Please try to at least reflect a little on why the WWNC lost–it wasn’t just based upon empty promises (though those didn’t help). The hubris and entitlement you show here isn’t a good look. I do hope people reading this look up the good you and the WWNC have done, because you all have done good, but do a poor job of letting people know and do a great job at seeming paranoid and uncaring about all your constituents.

          • Lisa Chapman

            A monster? Wow. Not even sure what to say at this point. I will reply, and then you can have the last word. I have volunteered in this community for 30 years, with no expectation of reward or accolades, I volunteer because I want to see my community grow, be stronger, and matter. I want peace between neighbors, and I want us to solve real world problems, like homelessness, and lack of public school funding. The list goes on. I want us to be accepting and diverse, and unique. I want the Village to be close to what it once was, which is why I have worked so hard to bridge gaps of perception, and views that we don’t really want success in the Village. We do, and we all love the Village. We created the student engagement committee to deal with student issues and ideas to bridge the gap until the next election. In fact every single thing the students asked for, we approved. I know you feel I am complaining, but I have seen the hard work and volunteerism of this council derided, and wronged. Lies and manipulation have been the order of the day since the subdivision launched, and I have felt the need to defend the dedicated volunteers of this board. And I have defended our record. I am proud that we have given more money in Neighborhood Purpose grants to our community than any other NC in the city. I am proud that we support UCLA and the entire community’s charities and public events. I am very sad that WW Forward decided to go this route, instead of running for the large number of available seats they could have run for on our council. THAT would have been the most democratic process. So here we are. We have been left with this. So there is no choice but to share the Village and work together. There is no paranoia or lack of caring. Our constituents are all of this community, and that is what we signed up for in the first place.

          • Hooraj

            You claim to love the community, but refuse to listen to it.

            The community voted. Westwood Forward ran, but the community voted. The community disagrees with you and the WWNC’s leadership. Please listen to the community you so value–they spoke and showed WWNC the door. The community was not fooled, the community is fine. The community asked you all to step aside and you all are burning up any good will by refusing. The community should be disgusted that you don’t listen to it.

            You say you care for the will of all the community, but your behavior says you care only for yourself.

          • maverick

            Good riddance. The students are just as much if not more a part of Westwood as you rich WASP’s. Change is a-comin! Must hurt not to know you are not a part of it.

            And so you can’t complain about anonymity:

            -Maverick Mudge, second year, UCLA Bruin

          • Lisa Chapman

            My comments 6 months ago were not directed at you. Secondly, not much has changed, there are two councils overseeing Westwood. Students, Renters, Homeowners, and the community stakeholders. It’s not about power, it’s about doing what is best for everyone who lives and hangs out here. You, on the other hand, seem quite angry. I am hoping in your third and fourth years at UCLA you will be able to gain some maturity and learn to speak to others with some respect. Here’s wishing the new council lots of luck.