Residents help to identify priorities for Downtown and neighborhoods

Distinctive Neighborhoods task force meets

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

What’s in the Neighborhood Bill of Rights and why is that important?
Members of a task force convened last month at WJCT Studios, the soon-to-be new home of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI), to start the discussion on strengthening local government communications and responsiveness to resident
concerns.

Csar_Lane

Trey Csar, president/CEO of Jacksonville Public Education Fund, and Dr. Laura Lane, vice president of Jacksonville Community Council, Inc.

The small group of 10 people was one of four groups that day discussing different action items under the Distinctive Neighborhoods theme, which appeared in three of the JAX2025 Vision targets: Arts & Entertainment, Neighborhoods & Urban Heart, and Vibrant Economy.

Ideas flew around the table, but several times during the discussion conversation became mired in frustrations with lack of response by elected officials, from the Mayor’s office to district council members. “Why can’t they be made to respond?” asked Celia Miller. Mention was made of the City of Jacksonville Neighborhood Bill of Rights, enacted in 1995 (Ordinance 95-247-106), but no one knew for certain the standards to which government officials are to be held under that bill. However, the bill of rights does provide for required responses by elected officials in two of the seven rules.

Neighborhood Bill of Rights
Every organized, officially-recognized neighborhood in the City of Jacksonville has the right to expect and receive the following from the officials, employees and agencies of the City of Jacksonville: Prompt, courteous, informed responses to all questions regarding City business. Replies, if only to report that inquiries or research are underway and a full response will be forthcoming at a later time, should be made within one working day of the original neighborhood contact.

Advance notification of any City-related public works or utility project taking place within or adjacent to a neighborhood (e.g. road paving; water, sewer or drainage work; traffic signal installation or removal; park renovation or substantial maintenance; land purchases, etc.), including the day(s) and probable length of any street closures, utility interruptions, or other adverse impacts on the neighborhood, and the name and phone number of the City representative most knowledgeable and able to immediately answer questions during the course of the work.

Notification of the submission of any application for rezoning, zoning or land use variance or exception, Development of Regional Impact (DRI) or Planned Unit Development (PUD) application, or other significant land use action; a clear explanation of the date, time and place of all applicable public hearings and other opportunities for public input on the application; and a clear explanation of the type of testimony that is allowable and relevant from neighborhood organizations and residents.

Opportunity for formal input into the annual budget process, including the opportunity to express preferred city government priorities, suggested capital improvement projects and other statements that fairly represent the opinion of a majority of the neighborhood’s residents.

A timely personal response of its district councilperson or that councilperson’s aide to questions directed to the City Council office.
The opportunity to participate in the design of publicly-funded projects within or adjacent to the neighborhood, including the opportunity early in the planning process to express neighborhood preferences about choice of location, materials, orientation, size, land use intensity, and other features.

Meanwhile, back at the forum…
Each of the initial four focus task forces, which includes Encouraging Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, Working Together for People, Government Openness and Responsiveness, as well as Distinctive Neighborhoods, will meet once a month for six months to identify priorities and action items, as well as the organizations that can and should take action.
If you wish to join a focus task force and be part of the JAX2025 vision process, visit www.jax2025.org.

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