By Dan Brin
President & Co-Chair
West Hills Neighborhood Council
Last month I was invited to join a roundtable of Neighborhood Council presidents at City Councilmember Mitch Englander’s 12th District field office in Chatsworth.
I was surprised when, in his opening remarks, Mitch singled out our West Hills Neighborhood Council’s monthly Community Cleanups as a “shining example” of neighborhood activism.
Then I thought about it some more and concluded I shouldn’t have been surprised at all.
Under the leadership of WHNC Beautification Committee Co-Chairs Reeyan Raynes and Tony Brosamle, our cleanup teams have grown in strength and numbers over the past year. Sometimes as many as 40 volunteers of all ages will show up to clear weeds, pick up trash and sweep the sidewalks of our community. (Our next cleanup is set for Saturday, Sept. 17, at 8:30 a.m., starting from the corner of Platt Avenue and Candlewood Way.)
No wonder the Los Angeles Daily News recently ranked West Hills among the cleanest neighborhoods in the Valley!
This is just one way our West Hills Neighborhood Council serves as a “shining example” to other Neighborhood Councils across the city.
As our group of presidents sat around the table in Mitchell Englander’s office, we talked about our biggest challenges. Homelessness was a challenge we all shared, but we also discussed the difficulties many Neighborhood Councils have in finding and keeping people to serve on their boards of directors. Some of them have trouble getting enough directors together to hold a legal meeting.
This is not a problem in West Hills.
Our board recently lost two of its 25 members when Esperanza Butler and Nicole Flessati resigned. We are sad to lose Esperanza and Nicole, but we won’t need to struggle to find candidates to fill their seats.
Within two weeks of announcing the vacancies on Aug. 4, our ad-hoc Board Vacancy Committee received 12 applications from interested members of the community. The number quickly grew to 20 applicants before the deadline passed on Sept. 3.
The WHNC’s Board Vacancy Committee, headed by Charlene Rothstein and Steve Randall, has its work cut out as it interviews all of the candidates and submits its observations to the entire WHNC board on Oct. 6. The board will then vote on which candidates will serve out the remaining terms of the two open seats.
All of these candidates want to contribute to the energy and focus that makes our WHNC stand out among the 96 Neighborhood Councils in the City of Los Angeles.
We have so many outstanding committees and subcommittees — Zoning & Planning, Environment, Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, Communications, Homelessness, Public Health, Youth & Education, Government Relations, Budget, Bylaws, Community Center/Senior Center, etc. — that it’s a constant challenge to keep track of their activities. Many, if not most, of their meetings are packed by board members and others in the community.
We have plenty to learn from other Neighborhood Councils, of course, but we are justifiably proud of our WHNC and the people of West Hills. Our community is truly a “shining example” of citizen activism in the City of Los Angeles.