LOS ANGELES - After four and a half years of getting petitions signed, funding studies and attending government meetings, the idea of cityhood for East Los Angeles was put to rest when the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Committee voted, 8-1, Wednesday to pull the plug on the idea.
The decision was made because the proposed city was believed to have no chance of becoming financially solvent at this time, said LAFCO Commissioner Don Knabe.
"There couldn't be a worse time in history to become a city," Knabe said during the meeting. "We are in no position to support this choice."
While the proposed city was believed to be starting out with a $14 million deficit, Commissioner Margaret Finlay was hoping to let the people of East Los Angeles decide their future.
"Give the people the opportunity to vote on it," she said.
At Wednesday's meeting, proponents of East L.A. cityhood, known as the East Los Angeles Residents Association, were not asking for a vote on incorporation, rather a four-month continuance to figure out how to make the budget numbers work.
However, the decision did not please association President Ben Cardenas.
"I'm obviously disappointed they didn't give it more time," Cardenas said. "I think we made a clear case. A continuance wouldn't hurt anyone. We felt a continuance would give us a fresh shot at restoring (state funds) of $9 million the state took away. We weren't asking them to accept this. We just wanted four months. But the political will wasn't there on the part of the commissioners."
Eddie Torres, president of the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Save East Los Angeles Coalition, said he opposed the idea because it would have raised taxes in the new city.
"I'm not happy with not becoming a city," he said. "I'm happy we did something on behalf of the taxpayers. We need to work together on this."
Coalition President Yolanda Duarte said the idea just wasn't feasible.
"I'm against this whole thing," she said. "We have three formal reports that say it's not rational, not credible, not feasible. They left out information that was critical and their request is contrary to the law. The law was created to keep the counties whole, not the new entities whole. And the fact there's no sources of revenue to keep the services we desire and are currently receiving under the county, why would we vote for something with more taxes, fewer services and $20 million plus of debt?"
(Shel Segal can be reached at