Monday, October 21, 2013

LESSONS LEARNED: How Other Communities Worked Toward Solutions

One of the toughest nuts our community needs to crack if we are to succeed in bringing back the good old days of 2007 is finding a way for social service groups, residents, and police to partner for the common good.

Notice that we didn't say "close the damn Center" and blame the social organizations for "all of the crime problems."

We said "partner for the common good."

To that end, we found some things online that got us thinking. Some of these finds are long and complex and we didn't read every word of them. But we found some highlights that struck a few chords. We thought we'd share them with you.

• This page at the California Redevelopment Organization site talks about how the San Jose Redevelopment Agency went about establishing the Sobrato House Youth Center. This passage seems instructive:
The community also proposed a neighborhood advisory group to address any future concerns of residents and business owners. The Citizen Advisory Council is made up of business owners, neighbors, City Council representatives and police officers. Clients of the multi-service center are subject to the operation’s own good neighbor policies, which are meant to insure compatibility with the neighborhood. Clients violating good neighbor policies will lose access to agency services. Since the Sobrato House opened, there have been no noise complaints from neighbors, no police calls and no parking problems.
• Portland, Oregon's parks & recreation department's apparently ran into some push-back from residents regarding athletic fields. They created a "Good Neighbor" device. This PDF lays out some details.

• Here's a John Jay College of Criminal Justice paper. In Our Backyard: Overcoming Community Resistance to Reentry Housing (A NIMBY Toolkit) (PDF file) walks through the process of winning agreements between communities and operators of homes for the formerly incarcerated.

We especially like the "Community Outreach And Response" section, which begins on page seven. Some of the section's subheadings that stand out to us:
  • Hiring a Community Liasion
  • One-on-One Relationship Building by Organization's Leaders
  • Balancing Client Needs With Giving Voice to Community Concerns
  • Being a Good Neighbor and Responding Promptly to Community Concerns
  • Building Trust in the Agency
And, finally, after a couple of recent community meetings, a couple of us CWBers couldn't help but harken back to our days in customer service. There, some of the first things we learned were to "say what you can do, not what you can't." Although, none of us could recall a time when the prevailing mindset was that we can't co-operate with the police.


  1. I think there also needs to be a complete re-evaluation of the programs these organizations offer. "Drop-ins" and "low threshold" shelters are unacceptable. Anonymous patronage is not acceptable. Casting a city-wide net is not acceptable. The programs should be goal oriented with clear guidelines and expectations, and these organizations should be required to produce on a yearly basis specific, detailed case studies of the subjects they have mentored through their programs. Collecting their grant money, unlocking their doors and then washing their hands of any responsibility for the consequences to the neighborhood has got to stop.

  2. When we are dealing with a mentality such as the 6-figure salary woman who dismissed concerns about the anti-social behavior of the Crib's clients with "These people don't respond well to rules," how can there possibly be a dialogue or process developed for a "partnership"?

  3. Michael - thank you for being the voice of reason.