Tuesday AM July 21st, 2009

A city council member endorses a Seattle program that brings city government to the neighborhoods. Ed Mayberry reports.
image of Peter Brown

The director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods joined Houston City Councilman Peter Brown at the West End Multi-Service Center last night to unveil ways to bring City Hall closer to the neighborhoods.  Stella Chao says her department is responsible for the community engagement process.

"The Department of Neighborhoods is a completely separate department.  We work in collaboration with the different departments in the city that oversee things like permitting and development.  So whenever there are changes to a neighborhood, we facilitate processes that make sure that community members have a say in how their neighborhoods are developing."

Sort of a "one-stop shopping" approach to public service.

"Right, we're really a liaison, where as the other departments continue to be the experts on urban planning, or you know, engineers on transportation, we will be the liaison to make sure the community leaders have the information that they need."

Councilman Peter Brown thinks the concept will work in Houston.

"You know, we're a big, spread-out city and trying to run everything from a central, one central source, say downtown is not very cost-effective.  To decentralize neighborhood services is something I think we need to take a close look at."

Brown says the neighborhood approach may prove to be more efficient.

"My goal with this, if we decide to do this in Houston: better service, preventing conflicts say between neighborhoods and developers before they come to a boil, and really having more efficient government."

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...