How Do You Like, or Not Like, Your Neighborhood Association?

Lately I've heard a lot from people who say their Neighborhood Association is broken.

There are widespread conflicts between board members, rival warring factions, seemingly everything but the actual engagement of weapons.

Or the opposite - total disengagement, people who don't even know they have a neighborhood association. Or when it meets. Or what it does. Or doesn't do.

I've got my own set of problems I could list, but I am wondering, how are things in your neck of the woods?

Views: 3

Comment by Kevin Murray on January 17, 2008 at 9:56pm
My Neighborhood Association is the best (Sun North). Granted, we have dues that we have to pay cus its also our water / sewer, trash, common area stuff.

I am new to the area, only buying my house back in May 07. From what I understand, a few years back our board did crap, but we now have good people on the board and the Assoication is in much better hands.

We also got a new mangment company to manage the money and day to day crap of running our neighborhood and the association. Since then we have had lots of neighborhood partys, including a christmas / holidy party this year. Also we were encouraged to decorate the out side of our houses and then they were going to judge the best. It was a 3-way tie. Also, for the first year, they decorated our club house too, and I must say they did a stealer job.

I must say that the Neighborhood Assoication makes living here very nice!

For anyone who cares, I live in Sun North Estates.
Comment by shotsie on January 18, 2008 at 10:37am
There was a proposal floated by the city representative to the NA's that the NA's be re-aligned to the borders of each elementary school, instead of the wildly uneven boundaries that evolved after a sub-division was built. In the NE quandrant, some NA's only contain 50-100 homes, while some are immense - containing 1000's of homes. Of course, all the present NA officers immediately squashed the idea, because they are comfortable with the present situation - ie, when matters are voted upon, a small NA vote is worth the same as the large NA.

There would be some major benefits to changing the district boundaries to reflect school boundaries - 1)the size would be more uniform, 2) local residents would immediately know their boundaries, 3) the schools could be "strong-armed" into providing a meeting place, 4) since half of our tax base goes into schools, maybe the NA could provide some input into the school system. (As long as this doesn't deteriorate into the PTO....), and 5) from the previous reason, maybe younger people with young kids would join, instead of all the retirees, who have nothing else to do.

Anybody have any thoughts on this?
Comment by chantal on January 18, 2008 at 3:56pm
Shotsie, that proposal makes sense to me. What are the downsides?
Comment by Secret ABQ on January 18, 2008 at 5:29pm
I have been in a neighborhood association for about a year now. I got involved because I wanted to stop the criminal activity in my area and make some positive changes for my kids. The experience has been horrible. There are a few people with nothing to do, who are control freaks, but also incompetant. They don't let "the public" into the group unless you agree completely - same church, same cultural identity, same high school, same political party, and political supporters. They regularly crucify anyone trying to make a positive difference with skills to make it happen. Especially younger people and people WITH an education. If you are young and educated you can just forget about getting involved. It will never happen. The so called public meetings are just the board members and their wifes and husbands, if that, most are divorced or otherwise single, with no children to care for.

They are also obsessed with zoning even though they do nothing about people who just do things completely illegally.

They don't follow their OWN bylaws; I don't think they even read them except to pick out one tiny sentence that supports whatever it is they want to do. In fact, they are currently trying to kick out a member on the board because she is a real no-nonsense tiger of a board member frustrated with trying to accomplish things and the board refusing to take action.

They end up becoming lawless communists holding up things unless it fits their vision. Things like when another group wants to provide a service for the community center or a business wants to develop something, they will not allow it unless they personally are friends with someone. They never directly SAY this but that is the way it happens.

But it gets more interesting because there are other board members who don't know a thing and show up once every 6 months to vote on something that another board member wanted them to vote on. It is crazy town, usa.

I guess I hate my neighborhood association. I am still on the board. Somehow I hope that I can make a difference but I will probably get kicked out soon. I think the only thing I can do is be friends with these crazy town usa board members so I can get them to approve things.

The city of albuquerque should vote to allow multiple neighborhood associations in one area OR they should ensure that there is a genuine representation by all neighborhood people who choose to get involved. And they should have some accuracy about who is really represented on a board. If only 6 old, retired, lonely, control freaks show up to meetings, then who do they really represent?
Comment by Chris on January 18, 2008 at 5:59pm
Sarah You just described my neighborhood association to a T. There may be a few Neighborhood Assoc. that are good but I know that mine is not representative of the views of the neighbors and live in panic that the neighbors might try to take their association back. There is no compliance to the by-laws and now if anyone disagrees they are accused of racial discrimination. Four board members resigned in December in protest of actions by the president who can't understand the difference between being president of the board and supreme ruler of the universe. I have found that I can get many projects done for the good of the neighborhood without the hassle of working with them. Projects I am working on now include a community garden at Loma Linda Community Center, an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids at the center, and The Girard Traffic Protests which will hopefully be expanded into a traffic study before long. I am on Rey Garduno's Community Advisory Board http://reygarduno.blogspot.com/.
I think the city realizes what is happening. The South Yale Sector Plan and The Great Street Project both were done at town hall type meetings where the association didn't have any more say than any other.
Comment by shotsie on January 18, 2008 at 6:56pm
"...the president who can't understand the difference between being president of the board and supreme ruler of the universe." - yeah, that fits our NA president to the T - except that he's folksy about it.

About that request from Chantal to add some downsides to my proposal to change the boundaries to match the elementary school boundary - gee, this is like being asked by my employer to list some improvement areas - I try to be as benign as possible. So here goes:
1) Most of the current board members are well-meaning and hard working, so re-drawing the boundaries would mean losing some of those people (but there are plenty of other volunteer opportunities and they can still attend meetings and such.) 2) The NA could be bigger (or smaller) - I guess the work would have to be delegated. 3) As stated above, the school boundaries could change - but the effected party could be permitted to choose one or the other. 4) APS could ignore the NA (at their own risk), or the PTO could take over the NA and just focus on school matters and not community issues. 5) Some school boundaries cross district lines - our NA does - so we actually benefit from having input into two counselors.

I had forgotten one big benefit of changing districts - right now, large areas of the city are not represented by NA's, because NA's are certified on a yearly basis, and require a quorum. We just had a very ugly and out-of-place office building erected on Eubank and Juan Tabo that had no NA input because there wasn't any. School boundary alignment would at least guarantee that some NA could have some input.

Another idea that I'd like to float is to put in term limits, both at the local NA and at the district level - these folks can always run for some other office, but I'd like different ideas on a regular basis.
And, have the city sponsor websites for each NA, so that resident will know about the local rulers, when the meetings are, what the views are - and, most importantly, have voting buttons for important issues (going to the city). I think the city could negotiate with some website guru better than the individual NA's can - the NA's that have them have variable quality, to say the least.
Comment by Ben Roberts on January 18, 2008 at 8:17pm
Wow, a lot of passionate opinions, and more than I can respond to. :) As far as re-drawing NA boundaries, one of the problems to me would seem to be getting agreement from all the parties involved.

For example down by UNM, where there are several relatively active NAs (Nob Hill, University Heights, Silver Hill) all in a relatively small area, redrawing boundaries along school district lines would mean merging some NAs and slicing up others.

How would you get that to work, and all the affected NAs to sign on, without making it an arbitrary decision by the City?

The diversity of neighborhoods throughout the City seems to indicate that no "one size fits all" solution is likely to solve problems of control, involvement, or districting. But I think these ideas have to be kicked around some.

As far as power-struggles go, in theory NA bylaws can vary but as far as I know each NA should have a yearly election, which is an opportunity to move out the old guard. And sadly in my experience, a lot of the reason that the old guard got entrenched in the first place is that they were at one time the ones willing to do the work required to make the association run. Although blocking newcomers from having their say doesn't help the cause.

As a newcomer to my NA over three years ago I found that I gained a lot more by being involved regularly on the board, and making alliances with the entrenched members, while pushing issues that were important to me. Its sadly political, but then so much of life is, particularly when you're talking about a variety of people in volunteer roles, most of whom are not community organizers. We're lucky in our NA that some are.

Term limits seem problematic, again because NAs are so different across the city - in that in some cases people are in a particular NA office due to an absence of anyone else willing (or able) to fill their roles. So in that case what would happen - just have that particular office empty?

The biggest problem I see with our NA (University Heights) is the difficulty in getting people involved to stay involved.

There are frequent complaints by people that they are uninformed, and that decisions are made by a small number of people, yet there's only so much you can do to get people informed, as far as flyers, email, etc.

When the NA is a volunteer body, and you have a very small number of people who regularly do the work it takes to organize and communicate events. And those people also have jobs, kids, loved ones who may need care, family, school and other community obligations.

In my narrow experience, the work done by NAs tends to be done by a few involved parties who are willing to be involved long-term, rather than just about a specific issue. It's unfortunate that there isn't more work that can be done to align the long-termers with the people who can or will only be involved on a specific issue. I'm not sure if there's a good way to get around that, other than a lot of work by everyone involved.
Comment by Secret ABQ on January 18, 2008 at 9:57pm
Chris "I have found that I can get many projects done for the good of the neighborhood without the hassle of working with them."
This is sad. I have heard it from other people also.

Shotsie The term limits also sound like a good option. But who would enforce?

Ben, taking 3 years to build alliances is a smart move. You are clearly politically smart and patient. I am not sure that I will want to spend that much time on it as I have only been involved for about a year. It would be great if there was some way to get involved and make some positive changes before 3 years went by.
Comment by Chris on January 18, 2008 at 10:34pm
Just want to point ot that it is not always the "old entrenched" who are controlling things. I think everyone has agreed the people have lost interest in the association. What happened with ours is very like when the far right took over the school boards by simply getting a majority of the 10% who turned out to vote and making life so miserable for the others on the board that we would rather not be there anymore. The only way to fix the problem is to get the people involved as I said on another discussion I strongly urge everyone to attend some of your neighborhood association meetings and see who is speaking for you and what they are saying. Before it comes to a stand down like Nob Hill.
Comment by Chris on January 19, 2008 at 7:45am
I thought that when I did get involved. If one could work with these people they woundn't be four board members short. Like I stated it is easier to do things with out them.

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