The Milpas Community Association (MCA) hosted a meeting last night at Our Lady of Guadalupe which featured a lineup of speakers with advice on dealing with community concerns that ranged from the prosaic to the persistent. City and state representatives offered updates on the Highway 101 construction between Milpas and Montecito, proffered tips on cleaning graffiti, and educated residents on available recourses to illegal dumping. Attention to these nitty-gritty neighborhood issues signified a widening scope for the MCA which began as a coalition of business owners advocating for more cops to combat crime and transients.

Although a number of local politicians (and hopefuls) attended the event — illustrating the growing clout of the 10-month-old MCA — most had ironically left by the time hot button issues came up for discussion. When a police representative exhorted community members to report crimes, Latino members of the audience expressed a deep distrust of the city police force. Audience members also shared their distaste for the city’s pending gang injunction. By the time headliner Gus Frias, coordinator for the South Coast Gang Task Force, gave an energetic sermon-like talk on intervention, only about half of the original 60 or so audience members remained. Executive director of the MCA, Sharon Byrne quipped that “the true community leaders…all stayed” for the entire program which ran well over schedule.


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