Los Angeles City Council votes to support Vernon disincorporation bill
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to support a bill in the Legislature that would disincorporate the city of Vernon and make it a part of Los Angeles County.
The vote followed a tense two-hour public discussion of the bill, which has been staunchly opposed by Vernon city officials and business and labor leaders in the city. A contingent of 200 to 300 business owners and union members protested the vote outside City Hall and packed the council chamber.
At the hearing, opponents of the bill argued that it would hurt businesses and cause job losses. They emphasized the low electricity rates that Vernon provides as well as its lower taxes.
On the other side, a group of leaders from surrounding communities, including two officials from the neighboring city of Maywood, argued that Vernon was a major source of pollution and that its leaders failed to operate in a transparent way.
Many voiced support for the bill's author, Assembly Speaker John Perez, who represents Vernon's district. The council ultimately sided strongly with Perez, praising him for his effort and thanking him for appearing at the meeting.
The bill would create an opportunity for Los Angeles to annex Vernon, but L.A. officials said they are focused only on eliminating corruption in the industrial city and maintaining the jobs its businesses provide.
Council members requested that the bill, AB 46, be amended to include measures that would protect Vernon's businesses. Perez said he would "absolutely" agree to add such amendments to his bill, which is set to be considered this month by the Assembly's Local Government Committee.
If successful, the bill would mark the first-ever forced disincorporation of a California charter city. Vernon is home to about 1,800 business and 50,000 workers and has an annual budget of about $300 million.
"My only question is why? Why would you consider supporting AB 46?" asked Peter Corselli, who manages US Growers, a cold-storage business in Vernon. "Many businesses have said, 'If the city goes away, so do we.'"
Martin Perez, a coordinator from Teamsters Local 63, said hundreds of union members could lose their jobs if the bill is passed.
"We really don't understand what the true motive is," he said.
-- Sam Allen