Q: What are neighborhood councils?
A: In September 1992, the City Council passed legislation designating eight neighborhood council areas whose boundaries correspond to the City's traditional planning areas with minor adjustments. Each neighborhood council serves as an independent, non-profit citizen organization to promote citizen-based efforts for neighborhood improvements. Each Neighborhood Council also establishes a partnership between City government and the neighborhoods it serves. Q: What do the Neighborhood Councils do?
A: The councils host presentations related to local issues, support community events approve or recommend projects for funding and generally act as a sounding board for citizens. Each council has an operations budget. The City provides financial and staff support to the councils. Assigned City department heads act as liaisons between the councils and the City. Each council is supported on a staff level by an urban planner who assists where needed, provides information, and facilitates neighborhood planning.
The Community Council meets to discuss common issues. The Bond Oversight Committee meets to review decisions and implementation progress for the councilmanic bonds for each council area.
Q: When and where are the meetings?
A: Each council sets its own meeting place and time. The public is welcome to attend. View the schedule of meetings for more information.
Q: Who can be a member?
A: Any resident or employee of a Tacoma neighborhood may apply to fill a vacancy on the council serving that neighborhood. The number of members varies from council to council. Members are elected to terms of one year in November.
Q: Who is eligible to join a neighborhood council?
A: Any resident, business owner, employee, property owner or member of an existing neighborhood group within a neighborhood council area.
Q: What incentive do citizens have to get involved in their neighborhood council?
A: For Tacoma to become a more livable, safe and united city, a broad and diverse cross section of citizens must join together to develop projects and implement positive changes in their neighborhoods.
Q: What are neighborhood councils required to do?
A: By ordinance, the City Council has required that each neighborhood council:
- Maintain itself as an independent, non-profit organization.
- Recruit a diverse membership.
- Meet at least four times a year.
- Review and make recommendations on the City budget.
- Develop an annual plan and supporting budget and provide them to the City Council through the Community Relations Office.
- Document activities in a written annual report to the City Council.
- Adopt by-laws and rules and procedures.
Q: In what kinds of activities do the neighborhood councils get involved?
A: Because each neighborhood council is independent, citizens from each neighborhood decide their own specific mission and activities, though they should: seek consensus and provide citizens with opportunities to advise the City Council on issues important to each neighborhood; undertake a wide range of neighborhood improvement projects as determined by neighborhood residents; with cooperation from the City, identify and develop solutions to mutual problems.
Q: How does the City support neighborhood councils?
A: With the creation of neighborhood councils, the City has made a commitment to:
- Mobilize existing resources to respond to the needs of Neighborhood Councils.
- Notify neighborhood councils of planned or proposed land-use projects, meetings, hearings, elections and other opportunities for citizen participation.
- Fund neighborhood improvement projects that benefit low-income residents or remove blight through Community Development Block Grant funds set aside by the City Council.
- Assign City staff as liaisons and support for day to day operations.
Q: What roles do the liaisons and support staff serve?
A: Liaisons are City department directors. Each liaison serves his or her neighborhood council by:
identifying and resolving special needs, requests, concerns or complaints; tracking and advocating for neighborhood council requests through City government to ensure timely responses; attending all neighborhood council meetings.
Support staff of the Planning and Neighborhoods Division:
- Provide information and arrange presentations.
- Prepare written materials.
- Coordinate with the councils and their planning committees in development of action strategies.
Q: Is this just another layer of government bureaucracy?
A: No. The neighborhood councils remove bureaucratic barriers so citizens can have direct access to the decision-making process as advisers to the City Council and as change agents for City government.
Q: Is there a way to share information between neighborhood councils?
A: Yes. Each neighborhood council has three positions on a 24-member Community Council, which serves as a forum for communication and discussion of issues of broad community interest.
Q: Where can I get more information about neighborhood councils?
A: Simply call the City's Neighborhood Councils Office at 591-5384, or email Carol Wolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is the difference between the neighborhood councils and the neighborhood business district associations?
A: The neighborhood councils are citizen councils which have been established by law and support in their work by a public funding and City staff. The neighborhood business district associations are private organizations.
Q: How can I serve on a neighborhood council?
A: Council members are elected by those who attend the regular meeting when elections are held. Planning committees each have members who are not elected.
Q: What are the neighborhood council planning committees?
A: Each neighborhood council has a subcommittee of board members and other citizens who discuss issues and make recommendations to the neighborhood councils. The planning committees look at how to spend available funds such as bond monies and they develop strategies for improvement.
Q: What is the Community Council?
A: Representatives of each neighborhood council meet monthly as the Community Council. This group discusses issues they have in common.