One of the reasons (and there are many others) there continues to be what City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins laments as an “adversarial relationship” between neighborhoods and City Hall is rooted in this question: should City Hall share decision-making power with neighborhood organizations and residents? Neighborhood organizations and residents believe they should share the power to decide about what best serves their particular priorities and needs for funding. City Hall believes neighborhoods should have no decision-making power and accept being engaged to participate in its decision-making processes by offering their views about City Hall plans such as the 2040 Comp Plan and, in this case, the Neighborhood 2020 Plan framework.
At the May 6 City Council committee meeting, City’s Neighborhood and Community Relations department (NCR) staff asked for the current 2020 Plan framework to be approved. The NCR staff framework not only reinforces current prohibition of neighborhood organization and resident decision-making power, but also further restricts it. In simple terms, it is a blueprint for the colonization of neighborhoods by City Hall.
Whatever concerns there are about sharing power with those not elected to hold it, it is clear City Hall has not and will not always make the best decisions about policies and practices directly affecting the lives of people, their neighborhoods, or their communities. Many years of evidence from community and social change efforts across the country confirm the more shared power, ownership, responsibility, and accountability, the more likely the best intended results will be produced.