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Volunteer coucil speaks to county

first_img“Before \ came in, we had no way to access county services, or to communicate with them,” said Chavez, 64, a South Whittier resident for more than 40 years. “Their offices are way downtown in L.A. We don’t have a city hall and all the functions that a city hall provides. So people often wouldn’t know who to call.” The idea for an unofficial governing body in unincorporated areas was in its infancy when the WCCCC was formed, said Ralph Pacheco, a former president of the group. However, the WCCCC, which originally was called the South Whittier Coordinating Council, was more “dynamic” and “more of a quasi-government” than the handful of other coordinating councils in Los Angeles County, he said. Today, the council has nearly 700 members on its mailing list and a seven-member appointed board. A board meeting and a separate general meeting for members are each held once a month. Pacheco said a field representative from the offices of county Supervisors Don Knabe and Gloria Molina – who share South Whittier – attend the meetings, as well as a sheriff’s deputy and a California Highway Patrol officer. SOUTH WHITTIER – Without the Whittier County Community Coordinating Council, unincorporated South Whittier residents would be without a vital link to county government, the council’s newly elected president said. Since 1987, the WCCCC, the area’s unofficial – and unelected – all-volunteer “city council,” has stepped in to fill a void usually occupied by a local government. Before the WCCCC was established, residents in South Whittier had little contact with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, WCCCC President Octavio Chavez said. The county board oversees an enormous bureaucracy that can often seem remote and slow to respond to local needs, Chavez said. “There was a model in place in other parts of the county,” Pacheco said. “The concept wasn’t exactly new, but it was relatively new.” Over the 20 years since its inception, Pacheco said the council has been instrumental in attracting more than $50 million in affordable housing and infrastructure improvement for the area. “Our first task was to do a community-needs assessment,” Pacheco said. “Everything from social services, graffiti abatement, infrastructure, sewers, medians, lighting, signals, etc. Back in the day, those things didn’t exist – at all. Some corners had no stop signs or traffic lights.” Pacheco said the council’s most tangible accomplishment was the establishment of the Community Resource Center on Laurel Avenue. However, not all residents have been happy with the limits resulting from the WCCCC’s unofficial status. Resident Butch Redman said people in his Sunshine Acres neighborhood still feel their concerns have been ignored by all governing bodies. The WCCCC “stir up the pot, but don’t do anything because they’re powerless,” Redman said. “They help people get warm feelings and it settles them down, is all. But we still get ignored by the county.” But Chavez said the WCCCC was at least able to create a line of communication between county officials and residents and that didn’t exist before 1987. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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