Louis Krokover has been the president of the Encino Neighborhood Council for the last two-and-a-half years, and a member for around seven-and-a-half years. He did not stand for re-election in the recent elections, and is moving onto pastures new. Patch caught up with Krokover to talk about his time in office and his thoughts on the Neighborhood Council system.
Will you miss being a part of the Encino Neighborhood Council?
It’s been totally enjoyable and totally stressful and I’m going to miss a lot of people. I’m moving to Sherman Oaks. I will still have an Encino business and so could've run for the Business Area member at large seat. But, talking to past presidents and other L.A. City officials, it's time for the captains to change comand. If you have someone who stays in as president long-term, it doesn't alow the community or the other members to learn.
There's a time when you have to let go. Once you’re president, if you stay on after not being president, it's hard! You see things are wrong but you can’t change it. You move on.
It's been fun the last two years, but the last year has also been a hard year. A lot of stress was applied to the Neighborhood Councils and Executive Committees that shouldn't have been. Neighborhood Councils do have a purpose for their comunities. The problem is that we are not given the claws and the teeth. The bylaws state that we are an advisory board. The community for some reason thinks we make the laws. We don't. That's what the City Council and Commissioners are for. We are just a Neighborhood Council voted in by the community to be a representative to them to the City Council and Commissioners. Without claws and teeth, no one says they have to listen to us.
How can the ENC have more "claws and teeth"?
We need to get the community involved. With around 300 voting in the election, do they speak on behalf of the 40,000 people who live in Encino? Not where I went to math school. That's telling me that the majority of the public doesn't care. The community only comes out when something has a negative impact on them personally. Otherwise, they don't show up.
In New York City, they have Community Boards rather than Neighborhood Councils, with volunteers who are appointed by officials. Could something like that work here?
That's right. You are not elected by the community you are appointed in New York. Here, we have 15 L.A. City Council members and a mayor. So, let's just use that number of 15. We should use that number as the basis for all the Neighborhood Councils. The number of seats based on the number of L.A. City Council members. One L.A. City Council member gets to appoint one member from each community. There's your 15 seats. That list then goes to the Mayor for final approval. Since they are all appointed seats, you give them teeth, just like commissioners. It's still an unpaid position, but you have a staff person who is a city employee, from the secretarial pool perhaps, and they assist the commissioners. They get to use city facilities to hold meetings at no charge. Now, they hear an issue and they can vote on it, or make their recommendation to the presenter and send their findings over to the City of Los Angeles, where they get weighed like other commissioners do. That's my opinion after watching the procecss over the last seven and a half years. Also, selected seats, like the Homeowners [Representative], don't get a free ride. So the community doesn't elect us, the L.A. City Council appoints us, and it's not two or three years, it's one.
What have been some of the highlights of your time with the ENC?
I was really glad to see the community take a postion on the Mermaids café [cabaret and bar] and come out in force and speak in unison and make the commissioners and City Council hear our concerns about a nightclub so close to a state park [Los Encinos] and the neighbors that surround it.
Another was working with the developer at Legado and hearing the community speak out against the color scheme [of the building] and having a meeting with the L.A. City Council to modify the colors.
And the community standing up to save Los Encinos [Historic State Park]. I was very glad I was part of that. I was glad I got the governor and Senator Fran Pavley and [Senator] Bob Blumenfield to hear us and take a position. Those are accomplishments.