A major property tax for La Mirada and nearby small cities is on the ballot this November, despite one official saying the money is unnecessary.

“Every time I’ve been on campus these last few months, I’ve seen no students,” said Marisa Perez, a Lakewood resident serving on the Cerritos College Board of Trustees, “Why are we going to build buildings that are going to be empty?”

The trustees voted July 20 to put a $425 million bond measure, known as Measure CC, on the ballot this November. The money will be used for classrooms but also for unnecessary, fun projects: a “front door” (main entrance way) and a new administration building complete with a board room for the trustees.

Cerritos College has seen a massive drop in enrollment, likely caused by its Covid restrictions. Between spring 2020 and spring 2022, the college’s enrollment numbers fell from 23,102 students to 17,873 students.

Pre-pandemic enrollment was 25,005 students, meaning the college has lost 28 percent of its student body. Despite all this, trustees are asking residents to increase their Cerritos College property tax from $42.51 per $100,000 without Measure CC, to $75 per $100,000 with Measure CC - an almost 60 percent increase.

By 2033, residents living in the college district with a $600,000 home could possibly be paying $450 annually in addition to all their other property taxes. And, as Perez pointed out, construction costs are going up, meaning trustees may have to ask voters for more than the $425 million they currently want.

Outside of La Mirada’s Trustee Zurich Lewis, trustees fought hard to maintain mask and vaccination requirements that others ditched long ago. After admitting all students on campus with a daily health check and masks, the trustees in mid-fall 2021 instituted mandatory weekly testing for the unvaccinated. This writer witnessed class enrollment plumet as a result, while others refused to attend on-campus classes, preferring online courses despite students/alumni complaining about not enjoying online learning.

In December 2021, a group of faculty and staff called No Mandate protested the vaccination requirements, forcing some to become emotional, saying they will lose or leave their jobs. Trustee Sandra Salazar gleefully requested a vaccine mandate, while Cerritos Trustee Shin Liu said the country had to become authoritarian for the sake of existence.

“Even though we need our freedom, maybe life is more important,” Liu said at a Sept. 15, 2021 meeting.

The college faced much difficulty in getting vendors to come on campus due to their vaccine or weekly testing mandates for the unvaccinated. As a result, while maintaining the mandates for faculty and students, they were forced April 20 to abandon the mandate for contractors and vendors. All but Perez voted in favor of this rollback.

This past summer, the college ended its masking requirement for students.

Regardless of future enrollment numbers, the college is facing constant budget shortfalls due to their state funding being calculated by their 3-year enrollment average. Previously, their funding was kept artificially high by the state, which then-kept funding at pre-pandemic levels. President Jose Fierro discussed the issue at the March 9 board meeting.

Trustees Zurich Lewis (La Mirada) and Shin Liu (Cerritos) voted against putting Measure CC on the ballot, while Perez was absent from the meeting. (She made her anti-Measure CC comments at an April 20 hearing.) The four other trustees—hailing from Downey, Bellflower and Norwalk—elected to put the measure on the ballot. Santa Fe Springs is also in the Cerritos College District.

Residents can vote for or against Measure CC through November 8.

-republished with permission from the La Mirada Community & La Mirada Neighborhood Watch Facebook page.