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.