The Los Angeles City Council instructed its attorneys on Tuesday to draft rules setting limits on who can participate in neighborhood council elections.
Neighborhood councils are community-based bodies that receive taxpayer money to spend on parades, festivals and other projects. They also offer suggestions to the City Council on a range of issues affecting neighborhoods.
The City Council voted 15-0 in favor of a motion introduced by City Councilman Jose Huizar that calls for doing away with the "factual basis stakeholder" category of voters and candidates in neighborhood council elections.
A new category called "community interest stakeholders," which covers people who can prove "substantial and ongoing" ties to a neighborhood, would be added instead.
Under the city charter, neighborhood council elections are open to people who live, work and own property in the defined area.
Many neighborhood councils, however, allow "factual basis stakeholders," such as merchants, to participate. But Huizar said the "factual basis" category has even allowed people who can show a receipt from an area Starbucks or other local business to cast votes or run in elections.
Huizar initially proposed the idea last October when 300 people who fit the "factual basis stakeholder" category cast votes in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council election, rivaling the 500 votes cast by people who actually live, work or own property in Eagle Rock.
Medical marijuana shops were a hotly debated topic among the candidates in the Eagle Rock neighborhood council election and critics of the dispensaries complained that outside supporters of medical marijuana shops were encouraged to participate in the election.
The previous election in Eagle Rock drew less than 100 people, according to Huizar spokesman Rick Coca.
Huizar said his proposals were based on feedback from neighborhood council representatives.