Ten years are enough. I am resigning from the board of Neighborhood Council Valley Village as of the end of this calendar year.
I was part of the founding board. That was back in October 2003. I have served as Treasurer from the formation.
I was a reluctant candidate that year. As a matter of fact, I entered as a write-in at the last possible moment.
The turnout in 2003 was somewhere around 20. It exploded in 2005 when mansionization became a hot topic. A pro-development slate bent on allowing mega-homes on small lots mounted an aggressive effort to control the board. They succeeded in winning a slim majority. My at-large seat was the most competitive as I was up against the slate’s heavyweight. I won by 11 votes. My opponent and I each racked up over 400 votes.
What I recall the most from that contest was the bitterness of the third place finisher. He mustered barely 70 votes. He was an attorney and threatened to sue me for allegedly engaging in “dirty tricks.” Quite an accusation when you consider I was away for almost all of the campaign while dealing with a serious family medical emergency. Nothing ever came of it, but he did file a protest through the Independent Election Administrator. No documentation was provided as there was no cause.
Mansionization continued to dominate the council’s agendas. Heated meetings ensued. Angry and divided factions filled the Colfax School auditorium. The pro-mansionization Orthodox Jewish community engaged in rancorous exchanges with the rest of the neighborhoods. It was an ugly time for Valley Village.
The pro-mansionization faction reached too far and passed a motion that would allow different floor area ratio standards, which would create two communities with divergent objectives.
The motion, although approved, was unenforceable, but it did galvanize the residents of Valley Village to come out in force in 2007. Over 1,000 votes were cast. The pro-mansionization slate was crushed. I received around 900 votes.
Along with my allies and colleagues, we saturated the neighborhoods with flyers in the days and weeks leading up to the election. We left nothing to chance. After all, the future character of Valley Village was at stake.
Since then, election turnouts have been in the hundreds. I have earned the highest vote counts over the last three elections. Overall, Valley Village has consistently led the north and south Valley NC regions in turnout. The total population of the community is about 23,000. I would be willing to bet we have the highest average per capita turnout in the entire system and higher than experienced in some precincts in citywide elections.
Mansionization was not the only battle we faced. Our board was firmly against Measure B, the selfish scheme of IBEW’s Brian D’arcy to featherbed his local’s employment numbers. We fought for the construction of the Orange Line, one of the most useful and successful of transit projects in the city. There were many other issues as well, but our involvement always had a common denominator – sound management and constructive participation at both the board and committee levels.
I am proud to have served the stakeholders and appreciated the opportunity to work with such competent colleagues. I also respect those who held opposing views – they stepped up to represent their constituents in the true spirit of grassroots activism.
I will remain an active stakeholder and continue to write about local and NC developments – there will never be a shortage of topics.