“Now neighborhood councils have a very loud voice,” says Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who heads the Education and Neighborhoods Committee. A louder one, at least. We just hope that the city’s leaders will be listening.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MARCH could mark the beginning of a revival of Los Angeles’ seven-year-old neighborhood councils system, which has lagged under weak leadership and lack of City Hall support. Or not. It all depends on whether the city’s elected leaders follow through on several recent decisions, and do so with the proper care and feeding the councils need to grow into a legitimate outlet for citizen participation. The first good decision was the launching of a pilot program in which neighborhood councils get to review land-use proposals before they go before the Planning Commission or City Council. This is a major concession, since neighborhood council participants had asked for pre-involvement for years instead of hearing about problem developments when it’s almost too late. New developments greatly affect the city’s already impacted neighborhoods. It makes sense that stakeholders in the community have a say in the proposals. The second decision was the removal of Lisa Sarno as general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. The third was the appointment of Carol Baker Tharp to replace her. Tharp, a scholar of neighborhood participation at the University of Southern California, has been involved in the creation and development of the city’s neighborhood council system since before it appeared on the ballot. Her knowledge of neighborhood participation in Los Angeles and elsewhere makes her uniquely qualified to know what works, and what doesn’t. And what hasn’t worked – for L.A.’s communities, anyway – is the deliberate undermining of neighborhoods by City Hall. This series of changes gives the city the tools to forge a revival of its dysfunctional neighborhood council system, which some have suggested dismantling.