CITYWIDE – It’s no Bloods and Crips but some neighborhood groups are expanding their boundaries and causing a few turf spats.

Santa Monica Mid-City Neighbors was operating unofficially for years trying to get its paperwork straight. Many years ago Mid-City was an officially recognized group but it lost its title thanks to lack of participation.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica) recently contacted City Hall on behalf of the group and Mid-City Neighbors reclaimed its official recognition in February. An officially recognized neighborhood group is eligible for City Hall-assistance in the form of an annual newsletter and $4,000 check.

After Mid-City’s official recognition, one resident living between Santa Monica Boulevard and Colorado Avenue – an area that had previously been represented by the Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA) – decided she’d rather be a Mid-City neighbor. She noted that she’d been represented by the previous iteration of the Mid-City and asked to be annexed.

Under Mid-City bylaws, a resident has to collect 40 signatures from residents in the annexation area, said the group’s President Andrew Hoyer. She pulled it off and in March Mid-City voted to expand its boundaries to include the stretch between Santa Monica Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard.

The Pico Neighborhood leaders initially had some concerns, particularly with Hoyer’s characterization of the stretch as “historically” a part of Mid-City.

“It’s been a part of Pico,” said Pico Neighborhood board member Gloria Garvin. “When Mid-City decided to annex it they thought that Pico had taken it but is historically a part of the Pico neighborhood.”

Both Garvin and the group’s Co-Chair Oscar de la Torre ultimately expressed a desire for harmony with Mid-City. The section will become an overlay: An area represented by both neighborhood groups.

“We just want to make sure all of the voices are being recognized,” de la Torre said. “We want to respect those groups and work with them. Anyone who lives in that area can choose to be a part of the PNA or Mid-City or both.”

There’s one other overlay in the city: North of Montana Association and Wilshire Montana Association Coalition share the north side of Montana Avenue.

Meanwhile, Pico Neighborhood did some expanding of its own. Traditionally, the neighborhood runs west to Lincoln but in March the membership voted to expand into Downtown, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

“Residents in that area, not so much Downtown, but by Seventh Street and west of Lincoln said they were interested in PNA,” Garvin said.

De la Torre said that the development in that area, which didn’t previously have an officially recognized neighborhood group, greatly impacts the whole of the Pico Neighborhood.

What leadership didn’t realize was that there were some unrecognized groups already in the area.

Ellen Brennan, who heads the unofficial South Beach Neighborhood Association, was not happy.

In Brennan’s mind, her group covers a strip of Appian and Moomat Ahiko ways. South Beach used to hold regular meetings in Shutters on the Beach but they don’t any longer, Brennan said.

She took the reigns of the group in the 1990s when happenings at the Santa Monica Pier were causing issues for residents.

“Back then the noise from the roller coaster was so loud it sounded like a helicopter was in my apartment,” she said. “We got that problem solved in three days.”

She felt like the Pico Neighborhood Association was stepping on her toes.

“It was the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard,” she said. “They are, excuse my French, way to hell and gone to the other side of town. Their problems are way different than ours.”

She went to the group leaders and had “quite a shouting match” over the move.

“I made it clear it was not discussible,” she said. “You started it. You end it.”

Garvin said it was honest mistake. She’s proposed that the PNA recede its boundaries to Ocean Avenue, a move that Brennan said she’d be happy with.

Garvin will bring it up at the group’s meeting next week but it’s unclear – given that boundary changes require a vote from the entire membership, which only gather once a year – if the change will be immediately possible.

Melissa Lindley does community outreach and works with the neighborhood groups for City Hall. She said there is nothing that would stop a neighborhood group from, for example, expanding to encompass the entire city.

City Hall leaves most of the decisions to the groups themselves.

“They are self-governed and they have to adhere to their own by-laws,” she said. “We support them in a few ways with city programs and when they want to participate in those they have to meet our requirements.”

 

dave@smdp.com

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