Venice stakeholders have approved a new set of bylaws for the community’s Neighborhood Council.
At a special election held Monday, May 1st, in the Westminster Elementary School auditorium, Venice community stakeholders voted 217 to 139 to ratify the bylaw changes approved by the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council board of officers March 29th.
Only a simple majority was required for ratification of the bylaws but 61 percent of Venice stakeholders at the election voted to approve the revisions.
The Venice Neighborhood Council bylaws will now be forwarded to the city Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) for review and final certification.
The Venice Neighborhood Council ad hoc Bylaws Committee developed the bylaw revisions over a period of six months, with the goal of making the bylaws more effective and efficient, said L.J. Carusone, bylaws committee chair.
“They will create a more representative system for Venice,” Carusone said.
With the bylaw ratification, the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council will now be known simply as the Venice Neighborhood Council — a change made to develop name consistency with other Neighborhood Councils throughout the city, Carusone said.
The new bylaws will allow the opportunity for more independent candidates to serve on the board and make it more difficult for slate candidates, or interest groups, to control the majority of board seats, Carusone said.
“One of the goals was to bring the community together,” he said. “This presents an opportunity for more diversity.”
Carusone said a major change in the bylaws is the makeup of the board of officers.
The Venice Neighborhood Council currently has seven executive officers, seven district officers and seven at-large officers.
But when the new bylaws go into effect, the seven at-large and seven district officer seats will be replaced by 14 community officer seats.
The 14 community officers of the Neighborhood Council will represent the community as a whole and not just a specific district.
Each Venice stakeholder will be able to vote for only one community officer candidate.
Neighborhood Council president DeDe Audet said the idea of having 14 community officers was to allow for different “interest groups” to represent the community.
“It’s going to be interesting and it’s certainly something very new,” Audet said of the community officer position. “The feeling is that this will give more minority groups an opportunity to participate.”
Other major bylaw changes include the definition of a stakeholder as being a person 16 years or older who lives, works or owns property in Venice, and that Neighborhood Council elections will be held in September to help increase stakeholder participation.
Bylaws Committee members said the revisions will also allow for a “strengthened committee structure,” in which Land Use and Planning Committee members will be comprised of non-board members.