Archived: Re: Ben Cardenas’ Open Letter to East L.A. Residents (March 22, 2012)


Once again Mr. Cardenas has chosen to rewrite history. The distortion of the facts is a deliberate affront to all of the hard working residents and business owners who have never been satisfied with the status quo and who have been working within the process and with elected officials to make East Los Angeles a safe place to raise our families, grow our businesses and contribute to the vitality of East Los Angeles for us and for the generations to follow.

In his latest open letter, Mr. Cardenas wrote an invitation to “let us get started” — albeit the investment in infrastructure has been underway for several years, is evident and surrounds us — where has he been? The local leadership has been working in partnership with County government for change in our respective neighborhoods, Maravilla, Whiteside, Union Pacific and City Terrace, et al; some of us have been working together for more than twenty years. In 2000, we local leaders — business owners, service providers and residents participated in the planning for the beautification of Cesar Chavez Avenue, including additional parking, street repairs, pedestrian lighting and street furniture; in 2003 Centro Estrella opened bringing crucial social and sorely needed mental health services to families with children with emotional and physical disabilities and key educational services to families with children under 5; in 2005 we worked on the revitalization of the City Terrace business district, a new private housing development was completed and the park was renovated; Parque de los Sueños, the first universally accessible park for disabled children in East Los Angeles and a new YWCA Empowerment Center providing family programming for children to seniors was built in the Union Pacific neighborhood in 2010; and our parks and open space plan and implementation efforts throughout the entire unincorporated ELA is nearly complete. This plan began nearly 10 years ago; these planned improvements and implementation efforts were done well before the cityhood initiative.

The catalyst to this investment in infrastructure, would be more likely attributable to the municipal service model utilized during these past twelve years an urban planning model steeped in redevelopment that respects neighborhoods and is inclusive, specifically for those of us most impacted and all this accomplished without invoking eminent domain. I believe in the power of “place” and for those of us who live and own businesses here and have worked over the years for community change together, we have achieved shared aspirations and had our fair share of bruised egos however, we are committed to creating collaboratives with those who are willing to work for a better ELA by making informed choices and putting conflicting loyalties aside for the benefit of the entire community.

The truth is — the PLATFORM for All voices to be heard has been in existence if one wants to participate they can. Everyone can lead – together we the local leadership share history working on the front lines to make a better ELA; far from status quo. Mr. Cardenas we would ask you to get the facts right and from here forward to refrain from name calling. After all we are your neighbors, colleagues and constituents.

The truth is – as part of the incorporation process ELARA did pay for the review of economic data to be reviewed by LAFCO, the regulatory agency with county-wide jurisdiction. The truth is – the official report submitted by LAFCO confirmed there were insufficient revenues to support a new city and it did not meet the criteria.

The truth is – the residents and business owners opposing cityhood are not entrenched – we are however, determined and fixed in that we collectively refuse to pay more taxes for less services.

The truth is – we never stated we couldn’t self-govern. The truth is – we are not willing to take on $90-$100 million in debt in order to create a sub-standard municipality. East Los Angeles is a sustainable community with resilient residents. We have the ability to “renew” and we will always be able to adapt. It may take time to achieve our goals but I believe TOGETHER we can emerge as a thriving community.

In closing, we take issue with your statements and inferences that issues of development, self-governance and accountability began 4 years ago. Stop insulting our intelligence, our history and the ability for future generations to learn the true significance of self-governance. In order to hold governments accountable, you must start by being honest and fighting with the facts in hand. Today Mr. Cardenas, we hold YOU accountable.

Yolanda Duarte,
Save East Los Angeles Coalition

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