With Deadline Near, ELARA Readies Response to Cityhood Study

By EGP News Report

Monday, Aug. 29 is the deadline to submit comments on the East Los Angeles’ draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA)—a study that is key to determining whether the unincorporated area in Los Angeles County has sufficient financial resources to sustain itself as an independent city.

Since the study’s release on July 13, the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) — which has spearheaded the movement to incorporate East Los Angeles and paid for the CFA— has been very guarded about their reactions to the study’s findings, and whether they plan to challenge the data. As it stands now, the study predicts the area would run a substantial deficit for several years should it become a city.

In a short Q & A with EGP, ELARA President Ben Cardenas said this is an opportunity for the people of East LA “to decide what’s best for East LA.” He cautioned people to remember that the study released is still in draft form, and there are still a number of options to be explored.

Click on this link to view the CFA presentation videos.

Cardenas said ELARA has been closely analyzing the numbers and will submit comments to be included in the final CFA by Monday’s deadline. While he did not go into great detail, Cardenas did tell EGP that they are “carefully analyzing the Sheriff’s numbers, the lack of Community Development Block Grant funds in the revenue stream, the Park and Recreation budget, the far too conservative sales tax growth projection, and the city elections annual budget estimates…”

He also said that they are looking to hold discussions with the County on their comments, noting they also have the option of asking the State Controller to review the findings after the final report is released on Sept. 8. All those options will be discussed at a future meeting.

Q & A With East Los Angeles Residents Association President

Ben Cardenas

Cardenas: The CFA is still a draft and not final. ELARA’s plan is to fully analyze the data and provide comments, options, and solutions to determine the long-term economic sustainability for East L.A. As we continue this conversation with both the community and the County, our comments will be made available by the deadline. We want to find common ground as we will also analyze the comments that will be submitted by the County. ELARA’s next step is to engage the County through the LAFCO designated process to develop a collaborative process. If it is determined that there are areas that need further analysis, the community has the opportunity to ask the State Controller to review the CFA and this option is also on the table.

EGP: What do you think is missing from the CFA? How might this information make a difference? Is ELARA going to ask for an extension?

Cardenas: The CFA is still a first draft and a preliminary blue print that we are still analyzing and we’ll have comments submitted by the Aug 29th deadline. Among the items we are carefully analyzing is the Sheriff’s numbers, the lack of Community Development Block Grant funds in the revenue stream, the Park and Recreation budget, the far too conservative sales tax growth projection, and the city elections annual budget estimates, etc. We will make our comments available once they are finalized. We also look forward to the County’s comments and feel there are mutual interests.

EGP: What is ELARA’s role now that the public comment is due and the final CFA is approaching?

Cardenas: This is the beginning and we should not draw conclusions without giving this process time to unfold. All interested parties and stakeholders in this community have a responsibility to provide solutions to close the projected shortfall. ELARA will continue to work hard as in the past to ensure the community has a strong road map to incorporation. This is about the economic future of East L.A., and ultimately offering the opportunity for the community to decide what’s best for East L.A. As residents of East L.A., we cannot afford the luxury of accepting a structural deficit without stepping up to find solutions to close the gap.

Related Stories: LA City Councilman Wants To Annex Portion of East LA, East LA’s CFA Leaves More Questions Than It Answers, LAFCO to Discuss East LA ‘Cityhood’ Finances, and Is East L.A. Ready To Be A City?

EGP: Lets assume, the LAFCO board on Sept. 14 votes against allowing the incorporation to move forward, what do you want people to know about East LA’s viability? Layout your case now.

Cardenas: Let us not speculate until all options and solutions are on the table. It is important that the community continues to understand and discuss this process further. We are planning a community meeting on September 9 (More to come on this once details are set) at Garfield High School in partnership with Assemblymember Calderon to continue informing our residents about this issue. As with other cities that have initially faced this hurdle before, this next step needs to be made with all options on the table. It is also important to note that LAFCO has the discretion to continue this hearing further, [during] which many questions will likely arise from this first step.

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August 25, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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