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An Incorporated East L.A. Would Start Out Millions In Debt, Report Says

  • By Shel Segal
EAST LOS ANGELES - With the comprehensive fiscal analysis showing a major deficit for many years to come, cityhood for East Los Angeles might have to wait even longer.
Ben Cardenas of the East Los Angeles Residents Association said the analysis shows a shortfall of millions of dollars.
"The CFA shows a shortfall of $11 million over the course of seven years," Cardenas said. "It should be $7.6 million by the seventh year."
Cardenas said Sacramento wrangling that had nothing to do with this issue helped put the proposal in the red for so long.
"What happened was Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill unrelated to this at the 11th hour that gives us an additional $6 to $9 million hit," he said. "The bill takes away vehicle licensing fees from many cities across the state to help ease California's fiscal crisis."
Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina - who's district covers unincorporated East Los Angeles - agreed with the analysis.
"It's very comprehensive and very thorough," Molina said. "It's as unbiased as it can be. It clearly says the money is not there. Unless there's something else they didn't tell them, (an incorporated East Los Angeles) would be starting out and in a deficit for seven years. I don't think it's an appealing option."
But there's still more to the process, Cardenas said.
"This is just the first public review draft," he said. "What happens now is we have until the end of August to provide constructive feedback and comments before it becomes final. The next step is to enter fiscal negotiations with Los Angeles County."
And what will happen there?
"We get to really analyze the data and the projections that were made by the council to ensure they're in line with what other comparable cities are experiencing," he said. "It'll help.
"There's a bunch of items like this. We're just hoping county negotiations will eventually help us develop a blue print for long-term economic sustainability for East Los Angeles."
Cardenas added he hopes people don't just look at the headlines and actually read the material.
"We're asking for people not to jump to conclusions," he said. "We've been waiting patiently for the past four years for this CFA. The community has been waiting for decades."
Cardenas said that in an area that's 98 percent Latino, there hasn't been a community plan written since 1988, no economic data has been collected in 30 years, "yet, we'd be one of the top 10 largest cities in Los Angeles County? How do you operate a community like this with no plan?
"We're on a fact-finding mission. We want to find out what is the true economic situation of East Los Angeles. We're going to go through the process to provide solutions and options instead of just having findings on preliminary studies."
But there is a silver lining to the report, Cardenas said.
"The study shows the county stands to gain $27 million if we incorporate if we free up Proposition 172 funds that go back the county," he said. "Other money is saved by their general fund on money they're spending in East Los Angeles. We really hope through the fiscal negotiations we can have options and solutions."
(Shel Segal can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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