Sound Off: You Say It So LB Hears It

Former LB Redevelopment Committees Should Unify And Amplify Their Efforts

by Jim Lewis

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(April 26, 2012) -- Along with the recent termination of the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (LBRDA) by our benevolent state government, our four Project Area Committees (PACs) have been shut down. These citizen-led PACs were made up of property and business owners working together to assist in the guidance and revitalization of our local communities.

By their very nature, each focused on their sphere of influence -- under the umbrella of, and receiving funding from, the LBRDA. Their desire for speaking into the process of community development does not end with the death of our RDA, however. Each area group is now actively taking steps to reconvene as independent bodies through incorporating as 501(c)(3)s, seeking funding, in order to continue to act in the best interest of their communities.

That is all well and good, until one examines the effort and costs of creating four different nonprofits, acquiring insurance, grant writing, and ultimately seeking funding from the same sources -- in effect competing against each other toward the same goals. As a former Central PAC member, and having recently written a project paper on the need for nonprofits to collaborate in operations and back office administration, I have attempted to share with the leadership of these groups the wisdom of a joint venture.

Utilizing an umbrella nonprofit with a collaborative board made up of leaders from each area, sharing costs of insurance and administration, and participating in bundled grant writing, would serve to multiply its collective political clout, decrease duplication, prevent dilution of funding streams, and reducing confusion for funders.

But that caution is falling on deaf ears, as these groups seem blindly committed to riding out as Lone Rangers, refusing even the basic collaboration that would serve to sustain them in the long haul. Their individual special interests are acting as blinders, hindering them from seeing the vast benefit of a joint venture. A primary cause is several of their leaders have no interest in giving up the reins of their respective PACs, choosing rather to hold onto what power their titular positions afforded them. Lacking a collaborative central organization will make the process difficult and create more division than unity, confuse rather than coalesce, and weaken rather than strengthen their cause.

It would be in the best interest of the city for some existing entity to step forward to facilitate a more persuasive plan for an umbrella organization rather than allow a disjointed effort by these well-meaning, but misguided citizens. The future of community development in Long Beach may depend on it.

s/ Jim Lewis
President/CEO, LB Rescue Mission's Sound Off doesn't necessary represent our views but does represent the opinions of the writer. We welcome responses in quick form below AND if you have an opinion article on something else LB needs to hear, email us at:

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