North Westwood Neighborhood Council recap – Dec. 1
By Justin Jung
Dec. 4, 2021 6:01 p.m.
The North Westwood Neighborhood Council is the official neighborhood council representing UCLA, Westwood Village and the North Village to the Los Angeles City Council. Council meetings are held each month and open to the public via Zoom.
The Dec. 1 special board meeting was presided over by Mario Hernandez, a neighborhood empowerment advocate from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment of the city of Los Angeles.
On Oct. 7, the NWWNC was placed in Exhaustive Efforts, a probationary status, for a tentative three-month period because of noncompliance with an agenda posting policy. The council meeting was controlled by Hernandez because of the Exhaustive Efforts status.
During the Exhaustive Efforts period, council agendas will be set by a neighborhood empowerment advocate and all committee meetings will be suspended.
In addition to Hernandez, general manager Raquel Beltrán and neighborhood empowerment advocates Jose Galdamez, Raul Preciado and Daniel Johnson were present at the meeting.
There were no comments by public officials.
There were no board announcements.
- Jacob Wasserman, a member of the NWWNC Homelessness and Community Health Committee, said he was disappointed that the NWWNC was prohibited from discussing potential Community Impact Statements on homelessness and transportation during the December council meeting because of Exhaustive Efforts. Wasserman added he was disappointed the council was unable to discuss recent LA City Council ordinances on homelessness and the opening of the scoping period for the Metro Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project. Wasserman also said that the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment’s management of Exhaustive Efforts amounted to suppression and that discussing these topics would not be timely or burdensome to the department.
- Steven Sann said that under public meeting transparency regulations, members of the public should be able to see which council members are present at a virtual meeting. Non-panel members at the Zoom meeting were unable to view the full list of current attendees. Sann added that in person, the audience could see all the members who are at the meeting but that this was not possible with the Zoom settings used at the council meeting.
- Representatives from the city of LA and Department of Neighborhood Empowerment delivered a presentation about neighborhood council rules and procedures, as part of the Exhaustive Efforts work plan.
- Beltrán said that the department will adhere strictly to its work plan during Exhaustive Efforts to help the council address its issues and represent the community effectively.
- Deputy city attorney Ruth Kwon said the office of the city attorney works to advise on municipal legal issues and that she is assigned to assist the NWWNC. Kwon added that when a neighborhood council faces a legal issue, the chair or president will be the legal liaison. However, during conflict-of-interest cases, Kwon would work directly with the council member implicated, and in some cases, advise a recusal from action, she said. Kwon also said that in some cases, a single council member’s conflict of interest may prohibit the entire council from acting on an issue and that since legal technicalities can be very specific, concerned council members should discuss with Kwon in advance of taking action.
- Hernandez said that all NWWNC members are now in compliance with trainings required of all neighborhood council members by the city. Hernandez added the city clerk’s office funding division is responsible for the neighborhood council’s payments, budgets and monthly expenditure reports, and that Shawna Dungo is the funding representative assigned to the NWWNC.