An Open Letter from the Mission Hills Neighborhood Council Treasurer

As your newly elected VP/Treasurer for 2010-2011, I would like to take this opportunity to explain how the system works, and to put aside any concerns that any stakeholders may have about how and where your (taxpayer funded) neighborhood council funds are being spent.

For the coming fiscal year (July thru June), the City of Los Angeles (via the Dept of Neighborhood Empowerment allocates an internal account of $45,000 to each neighborhood council, along with a roll-over of any leftover funds from the previous fiscal year.

So, the MHNC will receive an allocation of $45,000. Note that I said an allocation; the money itself is not handed over to us. It is strictly maintained by the City. Access to these funds is only by Demand Warrant (a formal check request) or by a City issued credit card (for smaller purchases). There is NO petty cash account.

At the beginning of the fiscal year, the Treasurer prepares a budget proposal based on input from the Board. This budget proposal is then formally submitted at our monthly meeting to the Board of Governors for further review and modifications. Then the Board votes to approve the Budget Proposal. The MHNC Budget Proposal was posted on our website, and now the Approved Budget is posted. The MHNC Budget for 2010-2011 was approved, with minor changes, on Aug 05, 2011 by a vote of 9-0.

The Budget however, is not carved in stone. As the year progresses, the Board may vote to alter it as needs evolve.

All major expenditures must be approved by the Board. For example, even though the Budget was designed to include a future allowance for Neighborhood Watch signs (the topic had been discussed at the meetings), it will still require a formal motion (with specific details) to be passed by the Board before any actual funding can take place.

Once the Board has voted to fund a project, the actual payment process takes place in one of two ways.

Major expenditures are paid for by a Demand Warrant. A Demand Warrant is a formal check request submitted by the MHNC Treasurer to the Dept of Neighborhood Empowerment (D.O.N.E.). After they receive the check request, they will scrutinize all of the accompanying documents (check request signed by Treas and Pres; documents checklist, invoices/receipts, copy of minutes confirming the Motion related to the funding, and so on). Only after the check request passes this audit process, does a check actually be sent from the City to the vendor.

Minor expenditures are paid for directly to the vendor from a credit card issued by the City to the Treasurer. The Treasurer maintains receipts/invoices that must be matched up to Motions or operational expenses specified in the Budget. At the end of every quarter, the Treasurer must submit a reconciliation report matching all credit card payments with description and proper documentation.

Monthly credit card statements are sent to the Treasurer. Transactions are also posted online at  the D.O.N.E. site (which includes any Demand Warrants recently paid).

Each month, the Treasurer presents to the Board of Governors a report that includes all recent transactions (since the previous report). A copy of that report is read and signed by all present Board members to signify that they have been made aware of every transaction.

The City is strict!  For example, if we purchase any refreshments (e.g. water, soda, coffee, cookies) for a meeting, then we must include a copy of the sign-in sheet to justify the purchase.

Currently, there is no provision for any petty cash. All transactions must be Demand Warrants or credit card.

As you can see, the City is a very attentive watchdog about how and where we spend our money.

I should also point out that no salaries are paid to anyone in our Council. We are all strictly volunteers, nor are there any personal expense accounts nor perks. If anything, we tend to spend our own money on small things and never ask reimbursement (and yes, getting reimbursed is a very difficult process), but I think that we all just do it because we believe in what the Neighborhood Council means for our community.

Our Budget is in Excel spreadsheet form (.xls). Our books are maintained locally in QuickBooks. At least once a month I will post copies of our financial reports to the website, and any stakeholder is welcome to contact me with questions related to the MHNC finances or to examine our financial records. There are no secrets!

My email is:  [email protected]

Fred Ginsburg

Watering Days to be Based on Street Address, Rebates Increased, and Phases of Ordinance Simplified

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board of Water and Power Commissioners today approved a revised proposal to change the City of Los Angeles’ Water Conservation Ordinance. The proposed changes, which were approved by the Board and will now be forwarded to the City Council for review, will simplify the law’s water conservation phases and change the schedules for permissible outdoor watering with sprinklers.

The proposed changes will consolidate two phases in the current Ordinance, bringing the total number of phases down from six to five. Phases of the Ordinance correspond with severity of water shortage, with each increase in phase containing stricter conservation measures.

The proposed changes will also shift the days on which watering with sprinklers is allowed for odd and even-numbered addresses under Phases I, II and III of the proposed new ordinance.

“These changes respond to a direct request from the City Council and are intended to provide greater flexibility to our customers while they continue saving water,” said Lee Kanon Alpert, President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. “The Commission has requested and staff has agreed to keep us regularly informed on how the changes are being implemented and whether our conservation targets are being met.”

Presently, Los Angeles is in Phase III of the current Ordinance, restricting LADWP customers to outdoor watering with sprinklers twice-weekly. The proposed new Ordinance would allow watering three times per week on specific days based on street address, and with specific time limits based on type of watering nozzle.

Under the proposed new Phase II restrictions, customers whose street addresses end with an odd number – 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 – will be permitted to use their sprinkler systems on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, before 9 a.m.and after 4 p.m. Customers whose addresses end in even numbers – 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 – will be permitted to do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Addresses ending in fractions will be treated as whole numbers and observe the same day restrictions as others on their same side of the street, (ie: 4321 ½ would be regarded as 4321, an odd-numbered address.)

Sprinkler time limits under the new Phase II restrictions will be based on the type of nozzle used in the system. Spray head sprinklers and bubblers, which are non-conserving models, will be limited to 8 minutes per cycle and one cycle per day per watering station. Standard rotors and multi-stream rotary heads will be limited to 15 minutes per cycle and up to two cycles per day per watering station. The typical single-family home has non-conserving spray head sprinklers.

In an effort to better assist our customers, LADWP will increase the rebate on water-conserving sprinkler nozzles to $8/nozzle, which covers the purchase price. Please visit for more details.

All other components of the Ordinance, including the prohibited uses of water, will remain the same. Watering with sprinklers will continue to be restricted to hours before 9:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m., regardless of the watering day. Hand-watering, using garden hoses fitted with shut-off nozzle devices, remains permissible any day of the week before 9:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m.

On May 18, the Board approved proposed changes to the Ordinance that recommended shifting watering days based on street address as a means of minimizing pressure fluctuations in the water distribution system. On July 6, the Los Angeles City Council referred the matter back to the Department with motions to merge Phases II and III of the current Ordinance and include three designated watering days per week for even- and odd-numbered street addresses under a revised Phase II in the new Ordinance. The policy changes approved by the Board today respond to the City Council’s requests.

The proposed changes will go into effect upon approval by City Council and concurrence by the Mayor.

The city of Los Angeles has been working on solutions to the blight of trailers with large advertisements parked on city streets.

Recently the City Council passed a resolution supporting Assembly Bill 2756, introduced by Assemblymembers Feuer and Blumenfield.

The bill would ban these mobile billboards in the state of California, unless a local community specifically allows them. If it passes, the city can begin work on an ordinance to ban them outright within city limits.

Visit to voice your support for the bill.

It’s now even easier to report graffiti to the City so it can be cleaned up fast. In addition to calling 311, you can now report graffiti directly using the City’s online 311 function at Just enter the exact address and a report and clean-up order are automatically generated.

The City also is making efforts to explore today’s rapidly evolving technology to make it faster and easier for citizens to report graffiti and other non-emergency problems. The City now has its own iPhone application to report problems. The application was created by Citysourced in a public-private partnership and can downloaded for free on iTunes. It allows iPhone users to take snapshots of graffiti, potholes, illegal dumping and other issues. Using the iPhone’s GPS system, the photo and the exact location are automatically sent directly to the City’s 311 system. It even notifies the user when the problem is resolved.

To download the app or see pictures of how it works, visit

The application should be available for Blackberry, Android, Palm, & Windows Mobile 7 platforms this year.

The LAPD offers a free service called Nixle that allows L.A. residents to sign up to receive messages directly from the Police on crime, traffic, missing persons, emergencies, and other public safety information.

Residents can sign up online to receive the updates by text message to their phones, or by email, or both. They can sign up for bulletins based on ZIP code and can sign up for multiple locations so they can keep up to date on traffic, crime and emergencies at their home, workplace, or homes of relatives.

Mission Division has recently started utilizing Nixle, and now has the ability to publish information to Nixle users.  Please encourage others to log on to Nixle and get up to date information on what is occurring in the area.

For full details, go to