For years the Mid-City area of Santa Monica has not had a neighborhood group to represent them but that is about to change. A group of Mid-City residents have been meeting regularly in order to organize a new Mid-City Neighbors (MCN).
The original Mid-City Neighbors became inactive in 2004 because of the lack of manpower to keep it going. As a result, area residents are concerned that they do not have a voice in important city decisions.
Efforts to activate MCN began in summer of 2009 when the Santa Monica Bay Human Relations Council created a program called “Kids with Cameras.” The photo essay project was designed to help the youth to get to know their neighborhood better and to help identify and seek solutions to issues in their area.
Community members had the opportunity to view an exhibition of the photographs and discuss organizing Mid-City Neighbors at the McKinley Elementary School on October 3, 2009. They also discussed some of the issues they felt should be addressed by a new MCN organization. Residents mentioned the need to meet face to face with those wishing to develop projects in the area. Also discussed were their concerns about having St. John’s Hospital as a neighbor due to the problems with hospital sewage and worries about siren noise from ambulance trips to their new emergency room. Parking and traffic problems and ways to increase gardening in the area were also mentioned.
The city has been advising neighborhood organizer, Gregg Heacock, and other Mid-City residents on such details as bylaws, boundaries, membership, and non-profit status for the new neighborhood group. The following are the proposed boundaries from the draft bylaws. “The northern boundary runs east along Wilshire Blvd. from Lincoln Blvd to Centinela Avenue. The eastern boundary runs south along Centinela Avenue from Wilshire Blvd. to Colorado Avenue. The southern boundary runs west along Colorado Avenue from Centinela Blvd. to 20th Street. The Western Boundary runs north along 20th Street from Colorado Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard. The southern boundary continues west along Santa Monica Boulevard to Lincoln Boulevard. The western boundary continues north from Santa Monica Boulevard to Wilshire Boulevard.”
Heacock told the Mirror that a significant change from the way MCN was organized before was the proposal to have three membership classifications. Resident members would live within MCN boundaries, have voting rights, and can serve on the Board of Directors. Liaison members who reside in neighboring areas contiguous to MCN and selected by the Board of Directors to serve as an official liaison to the neighboring area would also have voting rights. In addition, one liaison member from the geographic area of the Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA), Wilshire/Montana (Wilmont), and Northeast Neighbors of Santa Monica may serve on the Board of Directors and MCN committees. The third classification is associate members who live outside MCN’s boundaries who cannot vote but can participate in meetings and on committees.
Another change mentioned by Heacock was the proposal to have a 30-day waiting period after some pays their dues before they are allowed to vote. This is being proposed so that “a large number of new people cannot come all at once to an annual meeting, join immediately, and take over the group.”
In an e-mail to the Mirror Council member Kevin McKeown stated, “Neighborhood groups are one of the best ways a Council member gets to understand the distilled concerns and recommendations of residents, and Mid-City is the very heart of Santa Monica. Back when I was chair of Wilmont, I worked closely with Mid-City on issues of parking and the impacts of commercial corridors on adjacent residents.
The resurgence and reorganization of MCN is good news for everyone who lives in Santa Monica. Along with NOMA (North of Montana Association), Wilmont, PNA, FOSP (Friends of Sunset Park) and OPA (Ocean Park Association), MCN will give residents a more powerful voice — both in local, neighborhood-specific decisions, and in larger policy issues that affect our entire city.
Heacock stated that the next steps would include the “Can We Talk” meeting with City Manager, Rod Gould, on December 6 and organizing an annual meeting.