Best Practices - Vol. IV

Mayor Joseph Kleitman

Neighborhood Preservation Strategy

One of the City's top priorities over the past two years has been the development of a Neighborhood Preservation Strategy (NPS). The NPS was developed in response to growing concerns about community living conditions, including aging apartment buildings, gangs, graffiti, overgrown yards and general blighting conditions. The primary focus of the NPS was to develop a dialogue with the community and its residents about City programs, practices and operations in order to obtain input on what should be changed or improved. The basic premise of the NPS outreach is that residents best understand what is needed in their neighborhoods and that it is the City's role to listen to these concerns and, where possible, redirect City resources to address them. The NPS is a dynamic process, not a static plan.

From January 1995 through May 1997, the Council Neighborhood Committee (a three-member committee of the City Council) held 12 neighborhood meetings with all parts of the community. Over 900 community residents attended these meetings. The most important accomplishment of the Neighborhood Preservation Strategy was establishing an improved connection with the community. The neighborhood meetings put residents in contact with the City and "put a face" on City Hall. These meetings were well received and a major achievement by themselves.

While the process of meeting with all areas of the City was a major focus over the past two years, there were a number of specific accomplishments that also evolved directly or indirectly from the NPS. These include:

  1. The development of Action Plans for all eight neighborhoods that were part of the NPS consultation process. The Action Plans were mailed to all attendees and provided immediate feedback about what the City could do in the short term and long term to address the concerns and questions that arose during the meetings.

  2. Increased legal resources for code enforcement with the addition of a new Senior Deputy City Attorney in the City Attorney's Office.

  3. The establishment of an interdepartmental strike force to deal with problem code enforcement cases.

  4. A better understanding of the importance of basic City services like code enforcement, neighborhood traffic control, Police Department traffic enforcement and street sweeping.

  5. The establishment of the Central Information Center to improve access to City services.

  6. The streamlining of the Housing Inspection Program in order to focus more efforts on problem properties and to devote less time to compliant properties.

In 1997, the City is continuing the community consultation process. In addition to continuing the neighborhood meetings, the major focus for the City this year and beyond will be the implementation of the various ideas that have evolved from this process. The major lessons or messages taken from the neighborhood meetings are to: find ways to promote community participation and involvement; make City services easier to access and more user-friendly; improve the City's responsiveness to community concerns; and identify ways to improve basic City services.

Contact: Jim Lynch, Office of the Mayor, (415) 903-6306

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