On Wednesday, December 18, 2013, LA’s City Council voted unanimously to approve CF 12-1682, changing the name and definition of the Factual Basis Stakeholder to Community Interest Stakeholder, defined as those who have a “substantial and ongoing participation within the Neighborhood Council’s boundaries.”
The ordinance now goes to the Mayor for his signature and then must be posted before it becomes effective, anticipated to be around the end of January, 2014, which is in advance of any of the upcoming Neighborhood Council elections scheduled to take place in March, April, and May of 2014.
In preparation for the transition from the current Factual Basis stakeholder definition to the impending Community Interest stakeholder definition:
The EmpowerLA website has been revised so that this statement appears at the top of each Neighborhood Councils 2014 Elections page with asterisks on the Board Seat, the Candidate Qualifications, the Voter Qualifications, the Elections Manual, and the Acceptable Forms of Documentation:
*Pending legislation may result in a revision of the definition of the Factual Basis stakeholder, which may impact the qualifications to run and to vote for Factual Basis seat(s).
The City Clerk and the Independent Election Administrators will advise all Candidates filing as Factual Basis Candidates that the open seat’s name and qualifications are subject to change when the Ordinance becomes effective, at which time they would have three business days to offer additional documentation, if necessary, in order to qualify for the newly defined seat.
The City Clerk, when certifying Candidates, will offer two forms of certification; one for Candidates that are certified and one for Factual Basis Candidates who are “Certified pending anticipated Ordinance which may require additional documentation.”
Vote-by-Mail voters that file as Factual Basis Voters will be notified that the pending change in the definition of the Factual Basis Voter may impact their qualifications as a VBM voter.
The LA Times writes, “The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to tighten the rules for who can vote in neighborhood council elections after complaints that an overly broad definition of community stakeholder had allowed outsiders to manipulate results.
The new rules mark an ongoing attempt to refine the neighborhood governance system, struck in the late 1990s after the San Fernando Valley secession movement to give residents a stronger voice in city politics.
Previously, anyone could vote in a neighborhood council race just by displaying a receipt for a latte from around the corner, as proof of having a vested interest in a community — a “Starbucks stakeholder.”
Now voters must either work, live, own property or show membership in a community organization within council boundaries. The new language changes the voter definition from someone who “owns property” to someone who “owns real property.”
The City Attorney writes, “On October 1, 2013, City Council requested that our Office amend the definition of a “Stakeholder” in the Neighborhood Council system. City Council asked that we
change the definition to reflect that membership will be open to anyone who lives, works or owns property in the neighborhood and also to anyone who declares a stake in the neighborhood as a Community Interest Stakeholder. “Community Interest Stakeholder” is defined as a person who affirms a substantial and ongoing participation within the Neighborhood Council’s boundaries and who participates in community organizations with areas of focus that include, but not limited to, educational, non-profit or religious. In addition, City Council requested that the term “own property” be defined to mean “own real property.” The requested change is reflected in LAAC Section 22.811 (a)(2), which states:
“that neighborhood council membership will be open to everyone who lives, works or owns real property in the neighborhood and also to those who declare a stake in the neighborhood as a community interest stakeholder, defined as a person who affirms a substantial and ongoing participation within the neighborhood council’s boundaries and who may be in a community organization such as, but not limited to, educational, non-profit and/or religious organizations;”
In addition to changing the stakeholder definition, City Council also asked for certain changes to the Neighborhood Council board structure. Specifically, City Council asked that any at-large positions on the Neighborhood Council Board be open to all stakeholders and not simply community interest stakeholders. Thus, City Council asked to remove the requirement that Neighborhood Councils provide governing board positions reserved for Community Interest Stakeholders provided that there is an at large position for which all stakeholders may vote and run. In addition, City Council requested that Neighborhood Councils be allowed to “determine the number of governing board seats that will be allocated to the Community Interest Stakeholder.” City Council also requested that the affirmation of those Community Interest Stakeholders proposed in the Neighborhood Councils by-laws be consistent with and equal to the affirmation required of stakeholders who live work or own property. The requested revision is reflected in LAAC Section 22.810.1 (b)(2)(C)(iii)(1), which states:
“The governing body must, to the extent possible, reflect the diversity of the neighborhood council’s stakeholders. All stakeholders must be eligible to vote and run for at least one board seat. Neighborhood councils may allocate their board seats to specific stakeholder categories and establish stakeholder eligibility requirements in voting for the board seats. If a neighborhood council allocates its board seats to specific stakeholder categories, then the neighborhood council must include at least one seat for which every stakeholder is eligible to vote and run. Neighborhood councils may not allocate a majority of their board seats to a single stakeholder group, unless approved by the Department upon a showing of extenuating circumstances. The election procedures created by the Department or City Clerk pursuant to Section 20.36 shall require, in a situation where neighborhood council requires that a stakeholders to provide proof of eligibility, that proof of stakeholder status for community interest stakeholders must be consistent with and substantially equivalent to the evidentiary proof required of stakeholders who live, work or own property.”
For more information on Stakeholder definitions, how to run as a Candidate, serve as a Volunteer, or participate as a Voter in the upcoming Neighborhood Council elections, visit EmpowerLA.org or email or call 818-293-8683 (vote).