When considering joining the board, a common question a lot of folks ask is, "what are my responsibilities? How much time does being on the board require?"
First of all, thank you for your interest in serving as a Neighborhood Council board member! Or your decision to just learn about it and think about what we do. We appreciate you.
The Neighborhood Council system tailors LA's municipal government to the City's communities, ensuring that recognition and accommodation of these communities' diversity is built into City governance. We are a volunteer board, working together to accomplish this through projects we propose, supporting local organizations, and outreach promoting cty and county resources.
The amount of work you put in really varies based on how involved you want to be. You need to attend the Stakeholders Meeting, which takes 3-4 hours every second Monday of the month. At that meeting, you get updates from each committee and project, Liaisons, government offices, and we hear stakeholder comments on things happening.
That's the only "required" element of being on the board, as we need quorum on meetings and votes. What might add more hours to your week or month also helps clarify a bit about our responsibiities:
Attending committee meetings. We do deeper dives on racial justice, unhoused and homelessness, planning and land use, outreach, the budget, and the occasional project-specific ad hoc committee. Attending and giving input is a few more hours a week.
If you co-chair a committee, you prep for the meeting and lead it, so that's a few more hours on top.
Each committee is working on various projects. Plus there are many that don't have a set committee (if it involves under 4 people, or is not a big topic that requires its own set discussion time each month). So if you join Racial Justice Committee's efforts to engage with the Wilshire Police Department, that involves formulating questions and prepping for more meetings with other NCs and with the police chief. If you join the outreach team's tabling days, or help with the blog or social media, or the effort to turn Alta Loma Elementary's campus into a park that can be enjoyed on weekends, all of that is more organizing and more time depending on how involved you become.
There are other coalitions and committees between neighborhood councils, and some board members serve as liaisons to these, keeping everyone else informed of what is happening at a wider level.
Sometimes the board is approached about a topic and other times you as a board member push initiatives. Researching, writing, and bringing Community Impact Statements or other positions to the wider board takes some time, but can also be coordinated between board members or neighborhood councils.
The LA City Clerk estimates 10-20 hours a week, which is a high bound but would be ideal for an involved member. It's not required and it's fluid based on the week, depending on the projects and the meetings you have with various city agencies.
Because of all the above, there is a lot to learn. The initial days as a board member are front loaded with work. You learn about the Brown Act and why public input requires meetings and decisions to have certain timing, you learn Robert's Rules, do the trainings from the City. Another optional training if you join the Planning and Land Use Committee. Then talking to your mentor on MINC and asking all of your questions, learning relevant history, etc etc.
If you join the board through the May election, there's a week or two of lag time between results and the actual swearing in. Some of this prep can be done before actually become an official board member. Once you do and have access to the official trainings, you need to complete them in order to vote at meetings. Other trainings offered include communication, coalition building, conflict resolution, and how to develop positive interpersonal relationships that bring about an atmosphere of equity and inclusiveness.
The important thing to remember is that you are not doing this alone. We have great, vocal stakeholders and many local community partners. We have an entire board of individuals who are working through this with you, supporting you on your projects, and similarly working through the City's processes. Reach out with your questions!