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Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Pegged to Craft City-Wide Emergency Plan

Neighborhood Council now has six months to create a template that will help communities across L.A. craft their own emergency preparedness plans.

was recently chosen to partner with the city of Los Angeles' Emergency Management Division (EMD) to create a city-wide emergency preparedness plan--a tall task which will require them to translate their locally focused strategies into a template that can be used across the geologically diverse metropolis.

"This is really a huge honor," said Mark Legassie, Chairman of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council's public safety committee. "We have a chance to make Northeast L.A the 'home of emergency preparedness.'"

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council represents Mount Washington, the Sycamore Grove section of Highland Park, Hermon, Montecito Heights and Monterey Hills.

According to Legassie, Arroyo Seco was one of five city-wide neighborhood councils asked to submit a proposal to EMD.

Arroyo Seco beat out competing neighborhood councils in Lake Balboa, Woodland Hills and Hollywood Hills West.

In their proposals, neighborhood councils were asked to explain their current strategies and tactics for supporting emergency preparedness in their communities and to outline how they plan to encourage neighborhood residents to participate in the Great California Shakeout, an earthquake response drill scheduled for October.

EMD's community emergency management coordinator Mona Curry wrote in an e-mail to the ASNC that their proposal received the highest scores and was highlighted by their ability to generate community support for their emergency preparedness efforts.

By participating in the pilot program, Legassie said ASNC will not only be asked to assist other neighborhood councils in shoring up their emergency preparedness plans, but they'll also be given the opportunity to enhance a specific plan for Northeast L.A.

Those strategies will then be tested on during the Great California Shakeout.

Legassie said that the challenge for ASNC now is to synthesize the five years of work it took to prepare their current emergency planning into the six months leading up to the shakeout.

"We have six months to help the city do what it took our neighborhood council five years to accomplish," he said. "We have so much work to do."

Legassie pointed out that, even though ASNC has been singled out because of their dedication to emergency preparedness, their current plans are by no means perfect.

"If we're the best the city currently has to offer, then the city is in trouble, because we still have a long way to go as well," he said.

In preparation for the next six months, Legassie said he's been reaching out to neighborhood councils in nearby communities, such as El Sereno and Highland Park, to determine what their current emergency preparedness plan. He's also asking community members from across Northeast Los Angeles to participate in a steering committee that will help guide ASNC through the next six months of planning.

Community members are invited to attend an ASNC public safety committee meeting on Wednesday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at , which will focus on determining the first steps what should prove to be an intensive planning process.

In addition to laying out a city-wide emergency preparedness plan, Legassie said he's hoping ASNC's participation in the pilot program will also allow them to influence emergency policy.

For example, Legassie said neighborhood council's are currently barred from purchasing emergency or medical supplies, a rule influenced by past mis-spending by other neighborhood councils.

"That's something we think needs to be changed," Legassie said.

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