Ten Suggestions This New Board Should Consider
By Nick Antonicello
With a new board about to be sworn to office, the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org) has an opportunity to reform its operations and become more responsive and effective for the community it serves and elected to represent.
While an advisory body that is composed of volunteers, the 21-member VNC moving forward should consider several ways it can become a true repository of community feedback that can serve as a conduit between the council office (CD-11) as well as other city, county and state government agencies.
Here are ten suggestions this new board should consider moving forward:
Meet twice a month. The agendas are far too long and the interest of any stakeholder will wane after several hours of deliberation. Two meetings per month will get the board to address issues in a more timely and effective manner.
Meetings should have an expiration after three hours. No board meeting should drag on where the stakeholder is forced to sit through a bureaucratic process that is cumbersome, boring and seemingly ineffective. By limiting the time and meeting twice a month, the content before the board will be addressed in a more unruly fashion and stakeholders will have a greater participation in these government meetings.
Reform the BY-LAWS and Standing Rules. Most, if not all the candidates supported changing the archaic notion of only being able to vote for a single community officer. There are several rule changes that should be considered as well as the number of standing committees and the overall mission statement of this board during it’s term of office. An effective Rules Committee is paramount for this board to create greater activity and transparency.
Actively recruit stakeholders to serve on committees. Outreach is critical to ensure that Venice has a strong base of community support and that can happen by actively seeking as many residents as possible to serve. All committee chairs once seated need to actively engage Venice for more committee involvement, especially when it comes to new members for the all-important, Land Use & Planning Committee or LUPC.
Bring back the Farmer’s Market table. COVID-19 ended the weekly ritual of having a VNC presence at the Friday Farmer’s Market and that lack of engagement needs to be brought back. It was a reliable venue to meet fellow Venetians, ask questions and discuss the community’s concerns. This table needs to be a priority once again when this new board is seated. It is also a way for board members to personally meet the constituents they serve.
Rebuild a positive relationship with the CD-11 Council Office. With a new councilmember brings a new opportunity to have a restored relationship with the one elected official most important to Venice. Councilwoman Traci Park is a hard working and engaged elected official that resides in Venice. It is imperative the board’s leadership have and open dialogue with her as well as her staff. Invite her to meetings and invite members of her staff to attend the numerous committees that discuss issues such as the future of Oceanfront Walk, parking, homelessness and the plethora of other issues that Venice really wants to talk about.
Build a better brand. While engaging in government Town Halls is important coming out of COVID-19, sponsoring events that are fun and family friendly are just as important. Venice was born on the Fourth of July, the VNC needs to offer events that are engaging and memorable like a dog parade or dancing under the stars at the Venice Pier. The more the VNC does to outreach, the greater the overall effectiveness of the board’s ability to credibly represent Venice.
Bring back the annual barbecue and picnic. This annual barbecue and picnic in cooperation with the LAFD brought different segments of the community together. Currently, no such event exists. The VNC needs to consider events around holidays that will draw residents. Reviving the barbecue is a good first step.
Engage parents and the Venice school community. The best place to recruit volunteers is an alliance with school-age parents which then makes the VNC more family friendly. Events around holidays like Halloween for example is a great opportunity to draw from this well. The public schools here in Venice are at the heart of the community, especially Venice HS. An engagement strategy with parents and kids are critical moving forward.
Better and frequent communication with the Venice community online and through Social Media. The VNC brand needs to be saturated to Venice stakeholders. Current brand visibility Is minimal and for the most part, unknown. The goal should be to communicate with every Venice resident via email and that a coordinated effort to build that data base as well as traffic to the website become an immediate priority. The VNC brand should be accessible and visible on Facebook, Instagram and yes, even Tik Tok as well as Twitter. The VNC must be newsworthy in a positive fashion and a venue and source of community engagement all of the time. It needs to become the place and destination for locals to access and engage. In a community of some 30,000 residents dependent upon it’s boundaries, the communication arm of the VNC needs to be considered valuable and important. Branding tools need to be created that make that case to the community.