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East L.A. Ready to Stand and Deliver Their 'hood as City

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Next year could be the year that East L.A. gets on the map.

Well, okay, it's on there right now, and of course has been for some time, but it's as "an unincorporated area governed by the county Board of Supervisors," and not a city unto itself. But that could change with the 2010 ballot, when East L.A.'s cityhood gets put to the vote. According to the LA Times, yesterday "the community took a major step toward gaining independence" as "County officials announced that backers had gathered enough signatures for the cityhood process to formally begin."

The first step in the process is to launch a major study to determine if "the neighborhood of 140,000 can sustain itself economically as what would be L.A. County's 10th-largest city." Folks who live there say it can, and that they were willing to knock on doors to raise the $100, 000 the study will cost, and will point out that previous studies say East L.A. the city "would have revenues of $51 million versus expenditures of $45 million."

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Many local politicians are supportive of the move, including "Rep. Lucille Roybal-Ballard (D-East Los Angeles), former Assemblywoman Judy Chu and state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello)" as well as state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), who believes that this vibrant community long-hailed as iconic for its Latino culture is ready to "control its own destiny."

One person who has been tight-lipped on the issue of East L.A.'s possibly cityhood has been "Supervisor Gloria Molina, who represents East L.A. and has officially remained neutral on the issue." Her fear is that because it is such a predominantly residential area that they cannot generate enough sales tax revenue, particularly when the country is battling an economic downturn.

But many residents of this 97% Latino community won't be dissuaded. They believe the time is now, and are willing to do what it takes to turn an area frequently depicted in movies like Stand and Deliver and Born in East L.A. into the City they want it to be.