Founded in 2006, the San Gabriel Valley Oversight Group (SGVOG) is dedicated to improving the world we live in by promoting social justice and community involvement at the local level. The San Gabriel valley is located in Southern California and is a microcosm for ailments affecting us nation-wide. We take this wider view when seeking policy solutions to benefit the greater region. But we also find practical ways to implement them at the local level. Our approach follows the mantra "think globally, act locally."
The SGVOG provides independent research and analysis in several key areas pertinent to the plight of low- and median-income residents.
Many areas with a concentration of lower income groups suffer from a lack of open space, overcrowding, high traffic, and pollution from past and present industries.
The cost of housing in the San Gabriel Valley places many families at the brink of destitution. Yet the policies of most local municipalities fail to effectively address this problem.
Income inequality in the San Gabriel Valley continues to fester with the lack of good jobs. Local policies tend to focus on short-term tax revenue schemes that favor retail and service businesses--two areas notorious for jobs with unlivable wages.
Economic development plans of local municipalities tend to focus heavily on courting businesses without regard to long-term planning. The idea being that if businesses are helped and subsidized, benefits will trickle down to those in need. This largely had not been realized: cities draw away businesses from one another with promises of cheaper rent and block grant subsidies. And most jobs being created do not pay a livable wage.
Community Involvement/Civic Engagement
Effective policy changes can only happen with public engagement. A lack of time to attend meetings by the working poor and the absence of a lobbying group to provide support are part of the problem. But the problem can also be traced to a lack of open government and outreach by public officials.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently published updated data that showed an increase in the national poverty rate, despite predictions that it would decline once other subsidies were credited. These data show the increase is not a reflection of a lack of effectiveness of programs to help the poor. In fact, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is known more familiarly as the food stamp program, is one of the most successful programs to combat deep poverty. And the Earned Income Tax Credit is also effective. The problem is that the dismal economy placed more people on the skids, a problem which would have been much worse without such programs.
Although the number living below the national poverty line is higher in other parts of the U.S., the problem in our region is the number of people who are just one medical bill or other unforeseen event away from falling into financial ruin. The high cost of housing in our region renders irrelevant the usual measures for financial vulnerability.
Our high cost of living drives families to work multiple jobs, double up on housing, and struggle to spend quality time with their children. As with the rest of the nation, a lack of good paying jobs and affordable healthcare are common contributors for such struggles. Specific issues to our region are the high cost of housing and poor public transportation.
From 2008 to 2012, the SGVOG took an in-depth look at the policies and practices of the city of Alhambra, which is located in the western portion of the San Gabriel Valley. The purpose of this independent study was to assess the extent to which the city was prepared to support its residents during the worst recession in over 70 years. Read more...