LAFCO to Discuss East LA ‘Cityhood’ Finances
By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer
A small survey of residents randomly selected on Whittier Boulevard last week may prove to be an ominous sign that the turnout will be low at two meetings taking place this weekend to inform residents of unincorporated East Los Angeles about a recently released study on the financial prospects of the area surviving as an independent city.
Miguel Moroza, 64, has lived in East LA for 11 years and adds incorporation could be a good thing, but says the poor state of the economy doesn’t give him much hope that things would be better if the area were to become a city.
María Perez, a mother of teenage girls and East LA resident for 18 years, said there are pros and cons to becoming a city, but she confessed she thought the cityhood effort was about making East LA part of the City of Los Angeles.
Whittier Boulevard shop owner Jorge Medina lives in West Covina and agrees that a directly elected city council could empower the area to tackle issues, but says he’s not sure if that’s a good enough trade off for possible tax increases or a reduction in law enforcement.
No one EGP talked to last week along the busy corridor was aware of the upcoming meetings that would explain the finances of the area and the reality and hurdles that they face if cityhood gets on the ballot in 2012.
The draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA)—a study that is key to determining whether Unincorporated East Los Angeles has sufficient financial resources to sustain itself financially as an independent city—was released earlier this month.
This Friday, July 29 from 6 to 8:00 p.m. and again on Saturday, July 30, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), a state agency that oversees incorporations, will discuss the findings of the report and answer questions about the incorporation process.
Some in the community are concerned there has not been enough outreach to let people know about the meetings.
Read this story IN SPANISH: Las Finanzas de la Propuesta ‘Ciudad del Este de Los Ángeles’ Se Discutirán Este Fin de Semana
Flyers about the meetings were dropped at about 10 places, including parks and public libraries in the area, according to Paul Novak, LAFCO executive officer. Copies of the CFA were also mailed to ELA Civic Center, Anthony Quinn, City Terrace and El Camino Real libraries, where the public can review the 95-page report for themselves, he said.
However, no public notice announcements were placed in local newspapers, and neither LAFCO or the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA)—the group backing cityhood, and that paid for the study—have mailed letters to residents informing them of the meetings. “We’ve sent out emails, and reached out to supporters by phone and with flyers,” Ana Mascareñas of ELARA told EGP yesterday, adding that ELAR doesn’t have a formal role in the meeting presented by LAFCO.
CJ Salgado, an East LA resident and blogger has been both a supporter and critic of the incorporation efforts, and says while the CFA shows a substantial deficit, he would be willing to pay more taxes and hold the city council accountable for improving the area.
“If I were to vote today, I would vote yes, but that’s because I know what I would be demanding of my city government and know what I will have to pay. I’m prepared to do that but there are a lot of people who don’t know those issues,” he told EGP on Tuesday.
Salgado says a lot of East LA residents are in the dark about the incorporation effort and ELARA has carried out a one-sided discussion that includes denying that taxes would increase.
“The average person needs to be made aware of the full picture of what’s involved, only that way can they make an honest informed decision,” he said.
East Los Angeles has three business chambers. The Whittier Boulevard Merchants Association has been a staunch supporter of incorporation, while many members of the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce have been openly opposed. The Maravilla Businesspersons Association, however, has not picked a side and plans to listen carefully at the upcoming meetings, Yolanda Duarte told EGP.
While taxes and access to public officials are among the trade offs that are likely to come in play, Salgado says many businesses would also have to be better regulated if incorporation efforts succeed.
“I’m not sure if businesses are sure what those changes mean for them, some would have to disappear. We’re going to have to deal with the informal economy, we can’t just ignore it if we become a city,” he said.
The meetings will take place at the Auditorium/Main Multi-Purpose Room at Esteban E. Torres High School. Translation to Spanish translation will be available. The campus is located at 4211 Dozier Street, East Los Angeles.Print This Post
July 28, 2011 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.