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Funding for Area Councils Has to Wait

November 02, 2002|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

An attempt to push through $3 million for neighborhood councils before Tuesday's election on Valley and Hollywood secession fell one vote short Friday in the Los Angeles City Council.

The council had scheduled a special meeting to approve the long-awaited funding, but only 11 council members were present to act on the appropriation, which needed 12 votes for approval on first reading. As a result, though the council voted 11-0 to approve the motion, it must consider the matter again next Friday on second reading, when only eight votes are required.

Sandy Enfield, chairwoman of the Woodland Hills/Warner Center Neighborhood Council, said she was disappointed the money was not approved, but was glad some action was taken.

"It's about time," Enfield said. "It's going to allow us to go forward without having to use our own addresses and our own phone numbers and our own money."

Enfield, one of several proponents of the funding at the council meeting, said she and others have spent $1,100 of their own money organizing their council, which has been the only one in the city to endorse secession.

City officials have touted the advisory councils, which are elected by their communities, as an alternative to secession. But, three years after being approved by voters, the councils have been slow to get started. The city has certified 55 neighborhood councils, but only 18 have elected a board of directors.

In response to claims by secession leaders that the councils are powerless, city officials proposed that each become eligible for as much as $50,000 for expenses as well as community improvement projects.

"The time has come for neighborhood councils to receive their funding," said City Council President Alex Padilla, who scheduled the special council vote. "We've all been committed to empowerment of neighborhood councils and we are putting our money where our mouth is."

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