April 13, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Brentwood Beat: Note to the BCC– Let the People Speak


I think the BCC, or Brentwood Community Council, has been a good thing. Since its formation, the community has a central point of communication to hash out issues of importance.

But the BCC is starting to remind me of seventh grade student council. At the beginning of each meeting, all kinds of committee reports are given. It can take up to an hour or more to go through some pretty ho-hum items. Finally, after all that, time is allotted to take up new business – which, on occasion, includes issues that have people pretty excited.

Typically, all sides are invited to state their cases, which is appropriate. Then, after all the presentations have been made and members of the community council have asked all their questions, there is a tiny bit of time left over at the end of the meeting for members of the audience to express themselves, ask questions, make suggestions, etc.

But there’s never enough time for citizen input. Tensions rise, people start yelling, the meeting is adjourned, and everyone leaves frustrated – or angry, even. There’s something wrong with this picture. The people have a right to be heard, to ask questions, to get answers.

In the last two months, the issue has been a proposed restaurant at the Country Mart called FARMshop (see story, page one). The nuances of the issues, whether it’s FARMshop or something else, are often complicated. Just when you think you’re getting your head around an issue, having listened to a 20-minute presentation from one side, the other side weighs in and you get a very different view of the same picture. And then — just as the discussion is finally getting to the heart of an issue, the meeting is over — and everyone’s unhappy.

I think all the reports at the beginning of the meeting ought to be made quarterly instead of every month. Or, if these reports are considered that important, maybe every report-giver gets two minutes – max – to make his or her report.

Or maybe the reports can come at the end of the meeting, after the main issue, if there is one, has had a thorough airing (including time for citizen input).

Yet another option would be to have the chairman suspend committee reports for a month if he or she knows there’s a hot potato that needs to get handled. All that stuff can be posted on the BCC website for those who really care.

On those occasions when there’s a packed house because of a hot potato issue, wouldn’t it make sense to jump right in and not keep a room full of people waiting?

The point is, the people want to speak. They want to be heard. Members of the BCC are there to serve the people. They aren’t serving the citizens if they never listen to them. The meetings need to be restructured to make time for full discussion. I believe most members on the BCC would agree with this. They too must be frustrated.

The BCC needs to come up with a way to properly manage its agenda, figuring out a way to set aside meaningful time for real community input on the issues people actually care about. That’s what the BCC is here for, isn’t it?

in News
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