Comprehensive East LA Cityhood Effort Coverage

By EGP Staff Report

2012 will be a decisive year for unincorporated East Los Angeles—it could see its current efforts to incorporate flounder, or residents could be allowed to vote on a ballot measure that would launch a new city.

Either path could leave the area as it is, an unincorporated community in the County of Los Angeles, dependent on the county for its services.

Early on, the proponents of incorporation, the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA), acknowledged the path to cityhood would be slow, expensive and sure to encounter opposition. While the group continues dedicated, they have gained and lost supporters along their four-year journey to achieve cityhood status for the largely Mexican/Mexican-American community, steeped in political and cultural history and pride.

Likewise, opponents have not lost their passion or momentum, and perhaps more importantly, fear that incorporation will lead to reduced services with a higher price tag in the form of new taxes and fees.

July 2008 petition drive announcement. EGP Photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

At the core of the debate is whether there are enough financial resources in, or potentially available to, Unincorporated East Los Angeles to pay for at least the same level of services to residents and businesses currently provided by the county, should it become a city.

The desire for more local control is also fueling the drive for cityhood.

As it stands today, the area’s only locally elected representative is First District County Supervisor Gloria Molina. And while backers of the cityhood movement do not take issue publicly with Molina’s representation of the area, they are quick to point out that the area she represents extends far beyond the boundaries of East Los Angeles.

Two fiscal analysis released over the past few months do not painted a rosy picture for the proposed new city. But cityhood backers disagree with many of the findings in the study, which they contend are inaccurate, inadequate, and greatly overstated.

They believe that the area’s interests and priorities would be better represented by a locally-elected body, such as a city council. They also say the council could contain costs through negotiations, much like cities of similar size and resources in other parts of the county do.

With the issue coming to a head soon, there is concern that residents are not well informed on what is at stake. As one stakeholder previously told EGP, too many people are uninformed and could be vulnerable to “punch lines and campaign slogans without any facts to back it up,” should LAFCO and the county approve putting the measure on the ballot.

EGP has documented each step of the process so far. In-depth analysis of the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis, in both Spanish and English has been published in our 11 community newspapers and online on this website. Links to EGPNews’ coverage are listed below.

On Jan. 25, 2012, LAFCO will hold a public hearing on the question of incorporation for East Los Angeles. At that hearing, the Commission could make its recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors, which could than decide whether to allow the issue to go voters.

Testimony will be accepted during the hearing, but can also be submitted by mail.

The Jan. 25 LAFCO board meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room (Room 381 B), located at Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, in Downtown Los Angeles.

All the East LA Incorporation documents are online at Upon request, they can also be viewed at LAFCO’s office located at 80 S. Lake Avenue, Suite 870, Pasadena, CA 91101. For more information, call LAFCO at (626) 204-6500.

The following posts are in order from most recent to oldest, more stories are available in NewsBank Archives.

East LA Cityhood In Limbo (published Jan. 27, 2012)
Backers of a four-year campaign to gain cityhood status for unincorporated East Los Angeles were left in limbo Wednesday, when the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission (LA LAFCO) voted in favor of closing public participation and tabling the matter for two weeks.The 9-member commission voted unanimously to approve LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky motion to table the issue until LAFCO’s Feb. 8 meeting.However, before the meeting ended, Supervisor Gloria Molina, in whose district East Los Angeles is located, and who until yesterday had remained publicly neutral on cityhood, said East LA’s finances cannot be denied… read more.

East LA Cityhood: Is the Journey Ending? (published Jan. 19 2012)

Often called the birthplace and center of Mexican, Mexican-American and Chicano social and political activism, East Los Angeles has long struggled with the idea of what self-determination should look like at home. …Three previous attempts to incorporate East LA—1960, 1963 and 1971—have failed. The latest effort, started in 2007 by the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA,) now appears to be in danger of repeating the past… read more.

State Controller Releases Review of East Los Angeles Fiscal Study (published Dec. 22 2011)

A newly released State Controller’s review of the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) for Unincorporated East Los Angeles does not support incorporation proponents’ view that cityhood is financially viable. Funders of the review, however, claim State Controller John Chiang’s review lacks analytical depth… read more.

Roybal-Allard, Chu, Napolitano Still Support East LA Cityhood (published Oct. 13, 2011)

…The CFA has been completed and discussions on whether cityhood is a good idea are ongoing. As the process continues to unfold, several local officials are saying they still support the movement and the proponents, the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA), despite the concerns of some residents and business owners that the CFA raises concerns about the area’s economic base… read more.

Cityhood: The Only Way to Go, Says East LA Residents Group (published Oct. 6, 2011)

Day-to-day quality of life issues, long-term community planning and infrastructure would improve if unincorporated East Los Angeles were to become a city, according to members of the East Los Angeles Resident Association (ELARA) board of directors, the group leading the incorporation effort.

So far, most of the debate has focused on a study detailing the area’s financial state, but a deeper discussion of the issues related to the area becoming a city is needed, ELARA members told EGP during a recent interview…read more.

Timer Set for Challenges to East LA’s Fiscal Study (published Sept. 15, 2011)

If Unincorporated East Los Angeles becomes a city, there is no guarantee revenue losses will not occur in the future, but the same can be said for the county, the state and the federal government.

That was the East Los Angeles Residents Association’s (ELARA) response to many of the questions asked during a community meeting they sponsored earlier this week. They also said many of the costs in a financial study were too high, and substantial sources of revenue were not included…read more.

East L.A. Cityhood Effort Closes In On Next Major Hurdle (published Sept. 8, 2011)

The cityhood debate in East Los Angeles is heating up as residents become more informed and think about what they have to gain, or lose.

City Terrace resident Carlos Leon supports the incorporation effort, and says he’s willing to pay more taxes for more access to locally elected officials and local accountability.

East L.A. resident Rebecca Luna, on the other hand, says the area can’t afford to become a city, and she doesn’t understand the proponent’s ‘agenda.’ Luna says tax increases would hurt local businesses and reducing public safety services would hurt everyone…read more.

With Deadline Near, ELARA Readies Response to Cityhood Study (published Aug. 25, 2011)

…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…read more.

VIDEOS: East LA Cityhood Study Presentation (published Aug. 21, 2011)

…This video was recorded on July 30, 2011, during one of two community meetings held that weekend by the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to explain the study findings…read more.

LA City Councilman Wants To Annex Portion of East LA (published Aug. 18, 2011)

Unincorporated East Los Angeles is currently undergoing the fourth attempt to make it a city, but over the years neighboring cities have chipped away at it’s revenue generating sources, including East Los Angeles College, nearby shopping districts, and the industrial areas that are now part of the City of Commerce.

Now, a Los Angeles City Councilman is eyeing a portion of unincorporated East Los Angeles for its revenue creating potential. He has proposed the City of Los Angeles annex some of the land included in the latest effort to incorporate East LA… read more.

East LA’s CFA Leaves More Questions Than It Answers (published Aug. 4, 2011)

About 100 East Los Angeles residents attended meetings last weekend sponsored by the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) intended to explain the results of a recently released Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) on the financial viability of unincorporated East Los Angeles becoming a city.

While the seemingly outnumbered opponents to cityhood questioned the area’s financial feasibility, proponents focused their questions on the study’s accuracy and completeness… read more.

LAFCO to Discuss East LA ‘Cityhood’ Finances (published July 28, 2011)

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… 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… read more.

Is East L.A. Ready To Be A City? (published July 14, 2011)

The much-anticipated 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 yesterday, July 13.

The study is the result of an effort by local stakeholders and supporters to bring cityhood to unincorporated East Los Angeles, considered by many to be the heart of Hispanic culture and political power… read more.

LAFCO Delays Release of East LA Cityhood Study (published June 16, 2011)

East Los Angeles cityhood proponents have been anxiously awaiting the results of a Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) of the unincorporated area’s ability to financially sustain itself as an independent city.

Last week, the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) learned that the agency overseeing the study, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), has moved the CFA’s release from June 22 to July 13… ELARA volunteers, who have spent four years pushing for the study, expressed disappointment in the delay, but noted it gives them more time to plan outreach efforts to support their cityhood campaign… read more.

East LA Cityhood Backers Raise Funds to Get Their Message Out (published April 7, 2011)

A group backing an effort to incorporate East Los Angeles netted nearly $20,000 last month at a casino night themed fundraiser attended by about 100 people. The fundraiser was the latest effort from the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) to raise revenue to support its campaign for East Los Angeles cityhood… read more.

East L.A. Cityhood Town Hall focuses on ‘Political Muscle’ (published September 30, 2010)

On a day when the outside temperatures reached record breaking highs, the air inside the East Los Angeles Community Service Center was heated for a different reason as residents gathered for a town hall meeting on cityhood.

While a vote on the issue of cityhood is not yet a done deal, with several steps still to be completed, including getting a determination of financial viability, the overall tone of the town hall was focused on when the vote comes, not if… read more.

East L.A. Set for Grassroots Cityhood Campaign (published June 24, 2010)

On a hot Friday evening in unincorporated East Los Angeles last week, a group of local volunteers gathered to begin the initial stages of a critical grass roots campaign that could dramatically alter the future of the area.

In a way, the June 18 meeting of the East Los Angeles Residents Association offered a perfect display of how any and all efforts on the part of the East LA cityhood campaign would have to start in a less than ideal environment. Around 20 volunteers sat in a small dark makeshift classroom at the Eastmont Community Center where the lights were left off to cool down the room with no air conditioning. The room’s open windows allowed the sounds of nearby ice cream trucks and voices of local residents outside to drown out the small group discussion at times… read more.

East LA Cityhood Bill Signed (published June 10, 2010)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday signed into law AB 711 that authorizes a loan to cover the remaining costs of the East Los Angeles’ Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA).

While the approval comes almost two months late, the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) did meet the April 30 deadline to pay for the study, allowing it to move forward… read more.

East L.A. Residents Pay for Cityhood Study (published May 28, 2010)

The East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) delivered a $134,710 check to the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) on April 29 to pay for the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA), an audit of revenues generated in the area that could determine if it could sustain itself as an incorporated city.

According to June Savala, LAFCO Deputy Executive Officer, Economic and Planning Systems will conduct the study. While LAFCO had expressed some concern in the past about the validity of the signatures, now over two years old, Savala said LAFCO considers the signatures to still be good and that there is nothing keeping the study from moving forward… read more.

Bill to Support East LA Cityhood Gaining In Senate (published April 22, 2011 Issue)

A bill to help fund a study to determine if unincorporated East Los Angeles has enough financial resources to operate as an independent city passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday by a vote of 7-2 and is headed to the Senate Floor, according to a statement from the office of Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon.

The bill, AB 711, is co-authored by Calderon (D-East Los Angeles) and Sen. Gloria Romero, who also represents East L.A. Calling the bill “critical” to East Los Angeles Cityhood, Calderon said if approved, AB 711 would advance a loan of $45,000 from the California Main Street Program to help pay for the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis required in the incorporation process… read more.

East Los Angeles Cityhood Fundraising Reaches Half-Way Mark (published Jan. 21, 2010)

The East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) has raised just over half the amount needed to pay for a Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA), an audit of revenues in the area that could determine if it could sustain itself as an incorporated city.

A year ago, ELARA successfully completed a signature drive to authorize the analysis. Since then, the group has received four extensions to raise money needed to pay for the $134,710 study, that must be complete before resident’s can vote on cityhood… read more.

East LA Cityhood Glamour Fades in Recession (published July 16, 2009)

A year ago on the 4th of July, the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) with great fanfare and high hopes, kicked off a campaign to achieve cityhood for East Los Angeles…. Now, nearly seven months later, ELARA says their fundraising efforts—which have included menudo breakfasts and an East LA mural tour—still have a long way to go before they can pay the $134,710 needed for the study…. read more.

Cityhood for East LA One Step Closer to Fiscal Analysis (published May 27, 2009)

On Wednesday, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) hired a consulting firm to perform unincorporated East Los Angeles’ Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis. Oscar Gonzales of the East Los Angeles Residents Association called the hiring of Economic & Planning Systems exciting and the next step towards Cityhood… read more.

Money Needed to Fund Cityhood Analysis (published Jan. 15, 2009)

Gathered in front of Mission Furniture on Whittier Boulevard in the Historic “Heart of East Los Angeles,” the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) last Friday thanked all the people who had contributed to the successful signature petition drive to authorize a comprehensive fiscal analysis of unincorporated East Los Angeles’s potential to be an independent city. But ELARA has little time to celebrate, as they now need to raise $100,000 in 30 to 45 days to pay for the analysis… read more.

East LA Cityhood Study Gets Underway (published Jan. 8, 2009)

“It’s a very patriotic day for East Los Angeles,” Senator Gloria Romero told EGP on Wednesday about the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) notification that the signatures submitted by the East Los Angeles Residents Association last month are “sufficient.”

The County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk on Monday verified sufficient signatures were collected to require LAFCO to conduct a comprehensive fiscal analysis to determine if East Los Angeles has enough of a tax base to sustain itself as an independent city… read more.

Counting of East LA Cityhood Signatures Underway (published Dec. 18, 2008)

On Dec. 12 at 9 a.m., the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) delivered four boxes containing petitions with thousands of signatures to the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO). The delivery marked the conclusion of a five month signature gathering campaign to require a fiscal analysis be done to determine whether East Los Angeles could sustain itself as an independent incorporated city.

Currently, unincorporated East Los Angeles receives its services from the County of Los Angeles, including Sheriffs and fire, and has no elected city council. Supervisor Gloria Molina, whose 1st Supervisorial District includes East Los Angeles, is the most closely directly elected government official… read more.

Final ‘Push” Coming in ELA Cityhood Petition Drive (published Oct. 30, 2008)

Benjamin Cardenas, Vice-President of the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA), says the petition drive kicked off in July to gather enough signatures to force a new financial analysis of East Los Angeles’ ability to sustain itself as an independent city, has so far accumulated more than seven thousand signatures… read more.

**Individual posts have links to Spanish translations.**

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