A significant factor in economic development for our community is strong and involved neighborhoods. The city recently invested $1.8 million for improvements to the Southside in the form of new pavement, sidewalks, trash receptacles, and bicycle parking amenities. Because of that investment and efforts from the Southside Neighborhood Association, we are already beginning to see a return on the investment by way of new and existing business development.
This shows us the importance of strong neighborhood identity and involvement. This is also one of the reasons why your City Council directed staff to assist neighborhoods in forming associations.
Neighborhood associations are not homeowners associations (HOA). An HOA is a group of property owners with the legal authority to enforce rules and regulations that focus on restrictions and building and safety issues. On the other hand, a neighborhood association is a group of neighbors and business owners who work together for positive changes and improvements such as neighborhood safety, beautification, and social activities. They reinforce rules and regulations through peer pressure and by looking out for each other.
With recent endorsement from the City Council, the Community and Neighborhood Planning program has developed a Neighborhood Resources Quick Guide, a Neighborhood Registration Form, and a Neighborhood Planning Kit for our community. All of this material is available on the City of Flagstaff website as well as at both public libraries and at the City Hall Community Development Counter.
We were assisted in the creation of these materials by the Sunnyside, Southside, and La Plaza Vieja neighborhood associations, who suggested material and language that would benefit existing neighborhood associations as well as those interested in forming a neighborhood association.
The Neighborhood Registration Form allows a group of neighbors to formally register their neighborhood association – whether they are a single street of neighbors or comprised of many blocks. Once registered, others will know the association exists; they can receive city assistance in organizing their association, and it will also open the doors of communication between the neighborhood, the city, and possibly other neighborhood associations.
The Planning Kit helps with basic questions and provides contacts with other associations in the city. The kit also has information on how to hold meetings, look for financial resources, and how to develop a neighborhood plan.
We have seen two neighborhoods form new associations in the last two years and we expect to see many more in the years ahead. The Council and city staff understand that these associations promote a healthy city by encouraging citizens to help each other solve neighborhood issues and provide a sense of community.
They also help open the doors of communication between citizens, neighborhoods, and city government. This healthy and direct communication and planning is what leads to grassroots solutions and can lead to the capital investment and business development that we are seeing take off in the Southside. FBN
To learn more about neighborhood associations and to access the material I’ve just written about, please go the City of Flagstaff website and Flagstaff Neighborhoods link on the home page or go to: www.flagstaff.az.gov/neighborhoods.