Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council confirms general manager to oversee neighborhood councils

Los Angeles City Hall

Alice Walton/KPCC

Grayce Liu will lead the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment as it looks to redefine stakeholders and encourage greater participation.

The woman who has overseen the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment for the last six months was unanimously confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council Friday as DONE's new general manager.

Grayce Liu was named the interim general manager last August after BongHwan Kim left the position for a job in San Diego. The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment is responsible for overseeing the city’s 95 neighborhood councils.

“I’m looking forward to working with the neighborhood councils and continuing to find opportunities for neighborhood councils to work within the city council system and the city family system as well,” Liu said.

The confirmation comes as the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners is working to clarify when a resident can be involved with a local board. The city charter opens membership to anyone who “lives, works, owns property in the neighborhood and also those who declare a stake in the neighborhood.” This created problems last year when medical marijuana clinic owners encouraged their customers to vote in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, where dispensary owners are locked in a fight with neighborhood leaders over the proliferation of pot shops. 

“I do believe that neighborhood councils have a diverse group of stakeholders within their own areas,” Liu said. ‘To put a definition on a ‘factual basis stakeholder,’ I think we really need to work with neighborhood councils to figure out what it means to them.”

Leonard, Shaffer,  vice president of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, attended the morning meeting to voice his support for Liu’s confirmation.

“She’s created a new culture of inclusiveness, which is very important. She leads by example. She’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty,” said Shaffer. 

Another challenge for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment is finding diverse candidates to run for the local councils. 

“We’re looking at everything from making a documentary about neighborhood councils to reality TV shows. I am open to anything,” Liu said.

Should neighborhood councils ever appear on the small screen, Councilman Eric Garcetti asked that the program be “closer to American Idol than Honey Boo Boo.”

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