What is a Neighborhood Association?
A neighborhood association – as defined here for the purposes of this document - is a voluntary organization of residents who work together to improve and maintain the quality of life in their neighborhood. Associations can form out of concern over a particular issue or as a means of enhancing a “sense of community.”
Some Features of Neighborhood Associations are:
- Membership is open to all residents/property owners in the neighborhood, but participation is optional
- Dues are voluntary
- Lacks legal authority to enact or enforce maintenance or design requirements, but can be instrumental in notifying the City of code enforcement violations established by City ordinances
- Some associations create their own newsletter that typically prohibits advertising
Getting a Neighborhood Association Organized
Some groups form on the basis of wanting to better the neighborhood, be it responding to an issue or concern, or celebrating an event or accomplishment. By being pro-active, and forming for positive reasons, these associations are ‘purpose-driven’ in that they provide improved communication among neighbors with the desire of contributing to an enhanced quality of life.
Start by getting a few interested neighbors (4-10) together for a meeting in someone's home. Here are some ideas to consider for an initial meeting of the core group:
- ‘Get a Handle’ on the Group's Direction – Discuss each person's broad ideas of neighborhood problems, needs and/or concerns. This approach is more likely to ensure long-term success, and avoids starting out with a large meeting that has no direction, no chairperson, and no agenda. The resulting confusion from such a meeting can frustrate to the initiators, alienate potential members, and waste of a lot of good energy.
- Determine Neighborhood Boundaries - An important step at the beginning of a neighborhood plan is to determine the subdivision's boundaries. Typical boundaries may be determined by a review of a city map.
- Formalize a Strategy - The core group may need to meet several times before it will be ready to hold a meeting with the entire neighborhood. The core group should meet together as many times as needed to formalize a general strategy before the first meeting of the entire neighborhood. Once the entire neighborhood is involved, the core group may want to continue meeting as an advisory board for the newly formed neighborhood association.
- Announce the Association - Plan a larger meeting to announce the formation of the group to everyone within the neighborhood boundaries. Identify meeting location, time, and items to be addressed. The location should be handicap accessible and allow for serving light refreshments. During the meeting, keep major purpose in the forefront and stay focused.