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A ‘Hellish Bureaucratic Loop’ (And Other Headlines)

A color coded map of L.A. shows the boundaries of neighborhood councils in each of the 15 city council districts
Go to an interactive map and enter your address to see which neighborhood council you live in.
(Courtesy City of L.A.)
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Earlier this year, I shared with you the 411 about neighborhood councils and how they serve our communities. My colleague Brianna Lee told you how they work, how you can join and how to vote for the members. These advisory groups can’t pass laws or force city officials to take action, but they can offer their perspectives on laws and programs that impact their area. Members serve as a liaison between their neighbors and the wider city government.

But, there’s just one problem: neighborhood council members say the agency that oversees them — the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) — is in disarray.

The Chaos Inside The L.A. Neighborhood Council System

In her latest article on L.A.’s neighborhood council system, Brianna investigated the systemic issues that exist and spoke with dozens of council members about what isn’t working. Among the problems they cite: too many complex rules, communication screw ups and red tape. There were also stories of harassment, bullying and so much more.

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Last year, for example, the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council created a plan for more community engagement. Even though a DONE representative originally called the plan “amazing” in an email to board members, he later told the council, just weeks before its annual funding was to run out, that it had violated a finance rule and needed a work-around.

“We pulled it together, but at the end of the day, we went from the most enthusiastic body to the most disappointed [and] beat down,” said Michael Tessler, the former chair of the Hollywood Studio District council, calling the process of working with DONE a “hellish bureaucratic loop.”

And this wasn’t the only drama to go down within that council.

In February, nine members of its board quit after a DONE representative forced them to spend some of their funding on a Sheriff's Youth Foundation event. Soon after, the general manager of DONE resigned due to increasing criticism of how she was running the 99 neighborhood councils.

Since then, Mayor Karen Bass has promised to evaluate the system.

Brianna has more in her story on the chaos within the neighborhood council system and what might be needed to fix it.

There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

  • The Los Angeles City Council will vote on changes to Mayor Karen Bass' budget proposal on Thursday. Her motel program to help unhoused people, called Inside Safe, is among the biggest and most controversial items.
  • On Wednesday, the L.A. City Council decided to move voting on the Bulgari Hotel project in Benedict Canyon to August. Here’s why the project is controversial.
  • Environmental justice activists held a rally Wednesday outside the Port of Los Angeles to call for more help from federal, state and local leaders to more quickly clean up the county’s two ports and limit pollution. The South Coast Air Quality Management District reports that idling cargo ships and other port activities contribute to more pollution than all the cars on the freeway. 
  • Want to get involved in creating a more diverse judicial system in L.A. County? My colleague Caitlin Hernández wrote about the efforts to diversify judges, existing pipelines and a new “judicial leadership academy.” 
  • Tonight join How to LA host Brian De Los Santos in conversation with artist River Garza at the Autry Museum of the American West. Get tickets here. Arrive early and you can stroll through the gallery, or listen in remotely.
  • The public is invited to La Plaza de Cultura y Artes to write or draw on the Community Quilt of Hope in honor of late L.A. politician Gloria Molina. If you'd like to share your thoughts on how Molina impacted your community, message us at
  • Farm Aid, in partnership with Migrant Clinicians Network, now offers mental health and other resources through a Spanish-speaking hotline operator to assist stressed out farmworkers
  • A new California law that makes it a requirement for the state’s Justice Department to hold police officers accountable when they kill someone is currently having issues with victim's families. Families of people who were shot by officers say that they have had to wait longer than expected for investigations to finish. 
  • Many California Community College students make plans to transfer to University of California or California State University. But EdSource’s Ashley A. Smith reported on why students have found it difficult to make that transition. 
  • It could cost up to $21.5 billion to clean up California’s oil wells. ProPublica investigated why the oil industry is declining and why it will cost more than industry’s profits.
  • The ills of social media have been well documented, especially the effect on the mental health of teenagers. We all need to limit our scrolling. Perhaps teens themselves have the solution to help us stop?
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  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

Wait! One More Thing...

Hop In, Foodie. Let's Take A Visit To The Orange Curtain

A light blue plate contains a golden-brown fried pork cutlet cut in slices, next to a side of light green cabbage.
Pork Donkatsu, Yoko: House of Donkatsu
(Anne Marie Panoringan
for LAist)

After a nice, breezy skating session at the Long Beach Pier, I like to try out new restaurants nearby. Well, once again our LAist resident foodie Gab Chabrán has some overlooked gems we should try out that aren’t too far from the beach.

Today, Gab is taking us to the Orange Curtain, which is the border between Orange and Los Angeles counties. He’s going to tell us about dishes at nine restaurants you should try out — from egg sandos at Crema Cafe & Bakery to Korean sweets from the Old Ferry Donut, like the creme brulee flavored donut that has a torched glaze and cream custard filling.

If you’re in the mood for some Peruvian-Japanese food, make sure you check out the Higo Chicken. Gab’s description of some of the meals there have my mouth watering for a taste:

“First-timers will be inclined to go the saltado route by way of tomatoes, red onion, rice and fries before selecting lomo (beef) as the desired protein. Switch up the saltado by exchanging rice with spaghetti then removing onions and you’ve got tallerin. Take a gander over where the magic happens and gawk as the cooks expertly wok to their own rhythm, doling out generous servings of well-seasoned eats like arroz chaufa, combining scrambled egg, green onions and bell peppers into fried rice.”

Read more about these 9 restaurants to try here.

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