Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Neighborhood Associations Are a Good Thing

Another neighborhood in Sioux Falls is in the beginning stages of organizing a neighborhood association. The Whittier, Pettigrew Heights and Cathedral neighborhoods are a good example of what can happen when local citizens come together to be proactive in their little neck of the woods.

Living in Virginia Beach, Virginia in my early adult years afforded me the opportunity to become active in my local area civic league. At one point, I was even elected an officer of my civic league. It was a powerful means for me to become familiar with my neighborhood and local government when I bought my own home. We elected officers and had an agenda for each meeting which usually included an invitation to some local public official to come speak regarding issues affecting the community and our neighborhood. The most important aspect of belonging to this organization was the ability to become engaged in my community. It meant volunteering and hard work but it was a most rewarding experience and it made me an involved citizen.

The idea of civil leagues or neighborhood associations is not new. The purpose of these groups is to provide a voice for citizens in their local government and neighborhoods. There is no better way for neighbors to meet one another on common ground to preserve the neighborhood peace and safety for their families and become engage in local government issues.

The city's planning department has played a significant role in the past in helping citizens realize their potential by engaging them in the betterment of their neighborhoods. The Whittier Neighborhood Association is a model for other neighborhoods in Sioux Falls to emulate.

City Councilor Vernon Brown hits the nail on the head - “There’s no better way to improve a neighborhood than when the homeowners take ownership of it,” he says. “It started with Whittier, and they created a great model for others.”

It would be a powerful thing to be strategically organized into neighborhood associations across this city. The city's Planning Department could be the lead facilitator in organizing this movement across the city. Assisting citizens in organizing neighborhood associations by establishing boundaries and identifying means of communication within an association is a proactive approach to civic responsibility and citizenship.  I'd like to see this added to the mayor's top 10 projects and maybe see it appear on his Top 10 Accomplishments one year.

Engaged citizens mean an engaged and informed community. I congratulate the All Saints Neighborhood in their efforts to better their neighborhood and wanting to become active participants in their community. Neighborhood Associations are a good thing for Sioux Falls!!


  1. Civic and neighborhood associations have enormous power to control and influence local government. City Council candidates are keenly aware of this power and it's expressed routinely in working to reelect or remove council members. Your Major may not welcome the potential opposition these groups can muster; but, your city will benefit.

    1. Mighty Mike will not like anything that threatens his power or plans for the city. He has no time for those that can't see his vision is the one way things must be--after all, he is the mayor. The sooner his term is over the better for Sioux Falls and all of South Dakota.

  2. Actually the Mayor is a big supporter of neighborhood associations.

    The Mayor's Neighborhood Summit which was held in November 2011 had a large turnout representing neighborhoods across the city. (140 attendees)

    Russ Sorenson from the city planning department is leading this effort. There is extensive information at under Mayor's Neighborhood Summit.