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Politico notices East L.A.

California Playbook is a daily newsletter by about California political news. The Newsletter is often focused on power plays among CA politicians and the shifting sands that swirl around during election season - who's in, who's out and who is battling whom. So it was interesting to see a recent California Playbook leading off with a discussion of the issues driving Assemblymember Wendy Carillo's AB 2986, a fact-finding bill about potential local control and cityhood for East Los Angeles.

Busy street scene with pedestrians, cars, Whittier Boulevard arch sign in East Los Angeles.
East L.A. is as intensely urbanized as any municipality in the L.A. basin. Why don't the residents there have local control?

Indeed, there is a significant game of musical chairs in play. The Playbook item notes that the author of AB2986 ran unsuccessfully for the County Supervisor seat being vacated by the Supervisor leading the opposition to the bill. The author is thus on her way out as the Assemblymember representing the community. Meanwhile, that opposing Supervisor is in her last term of office; the State Senator for the area is said to be running to replace the Supervisor. And the bill's author has begun steps to replace the State Senator.

Beyond the evolving leadership positions, though, this quote from the article caught our eye:

But the mere mention of incorporation has politicians feeling territorial. The county board of supervisors, led by Solis, last week voted unanimously to oppose Carrillo’s bill — declaring that the county provides numerous public services to the community, regardless of how much revenue it generates, and that, “incorporation is unlikely to prove beneficial for East LA residents and businesses.”
Lara Korte and Dustin Gardiner, "East LA eyes a path to independence … again" (, California Playbook for March 2, 2024)

Some counties, though not all, seem hell-bent on denying self-determination to their unincorporated area constituents as a means of retaining power, even if by doing so they deprive those constituents the rights and privileges enjoyed by constituents who live in cities. That's a basic Machiavellian concept that - while it might serve The Prince - should have no place in a democratic society. How is local control of municipal affairs unlikely to benefit those who have local control? Keep in mind that the "numerous public services" provided to East L.A. by L.A. County are a mix of municipal services and areawide services. It would be easier to understand the County's position if it would sort out its municipal services to a specific unincorporated community from its areawide services across the entire county. Of course, that's unlikely to become public information, as county budgets typically do not provide that kind of transparency. That it is especially so for a county budget as massive as L.A. County's.

California (un)Incorporated acknowledges the severe fiscal constraints impacting the state's budget. We understand that a bill with a price tag is severely challenged to survive the legislative process at this time. Yet we support Assemblymember Carrillo's AB2986. We believe the process of forming new cities should be less restrictive and less costly. The current process is broken, to the point where a local Legislator feels compelled to introduce legislation to stimulate action. And, with 5 million Californians in the same boat as the 120,000 Californians of East Los Angeles - lacking Mayors and City Councils to focus on local priorities as they are - we think it is well past time for the Legislature to reform the restrictive procedures that have effectively crippled the formation of new municipalities in the state.


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