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Disenfranchised Cities in Southeast L.A. County Join Forces to Form SELA United


BY BRIAN HEWS • March 18, 2021

Given the vaccine inequity and other factors that cause S.E. Los Angeles cities to always be the “shoemaker’s stepchild,” city leaders in in the area are collaborating to bring more bargaining to the table starting a new coalition called SELA United.

For now SELA counts its members as Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Commerce, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Maywood and South Gate.

But they are thinking of expanding to help similar cities not in SELA, including working with city leaders from Hawaiian Gardens, Montebello, and Paramount.

Cudahy Vice Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar told Spectrum1,”Our residents ride the Metro, they walk, they utilize that system, but they don’t yet have a seat at the table that really advocates for them to have better service, to have new improvements and to have projects coming to our area.”

That is very true, any advertising placed aiming at those in the demographic that take public transit are consistently placed in publications they do not read, such as the Los Angeles Times. Federal funds got to the wealthier cities first, leaving crumbs for the cities in SELA.

South Gate Councilwoman Diaz echoed that fact, “We are the donut hole of L.A. County. Funding tends to go outside neighboring cities and not here,” she explained.

SELA is proving that there is strength in numbers, securing 2,000 vaccines from Governor Newsom for their region.

Lynwood Mayor Marisela Santana said she’s watched SELA cities be ignored and is happy a group of cities is getting together to do something about it.

Similar to Hawaiian Gardens, Mayor Santana said less than 10% of residents in Southeast L.A. are vaccinated, so they fought, and recently secured a mobile vaccination site.

“Our communities are very resilient and hardworking, but we have been constantly disenfranchised and overlooked,” Diaz said.

Now they have a loud voice that will constantly work to get federal attention and obtain funding for their communities.