La Casa Responds to Challenges with Community Support

La Casa de la Raza News / Updates:

 La Casa de la Raza, the Cesar Chavez Center, is a non-profit Community Center established in 1971 with the inspiration of Cesar Chavez to sustain a spirit of dignity and respectful understanding of the Latino culture in Santa Barbara. Located at 601 E. Montecito Street in Santa Barbara, La Casa uniquely blends accessibility to a range of social and family oriented services, youth education, outreach programs, community forums, social gatherings, and spaces for vibrant expressions of arts and performance that have far reaching influence across the Santa Barbara community.

Periodically, La Casa finds itself negatively profiled by a local newspaper, and appreciates the efforts by other reporters and media sources to clarify the details for factual accuracy.

Curiously, our detractors rarely provide coverage of our programs and many public events, and fail to feature what we have learned about compelling social issues in our community. Instead, the focus is usually on operations, particularly property taxes and the impending doom of foreclosure—written without facts and at the expense of the Staff, Board of Directors, other volunteers, and La Casa’s reputation.

It is important to note that we are not intimidated and will not be bullied. We appreciate that our supporters recognize our valuable contributions and respond to negative press with expressions of their belief in our work, financial donations, and offers to help in any way they can. We stand united with our community to the end, doing the valuable work we have been doing all along.

To clarify some misconceptions and provide accuracy about our agency:

La Casa is a 501 (c) (3) organization, compliant with Federal laws, including for the purposes of tax-deductible donations. We never ‘lost’ this non-profit status.

La Casa has been engaged for some years in legitimate discussions with the County of Santa Barbara Tax Assessor personnel regarding the amount of property taxes we should owe annually for our building as a non-profit agency.

In 2012, La Casa’s Board of Directors decided to pay nearly $100,000 to the County to prove our good faith intentions of negotiating, with the understanding from legal counsel that we would then pursue a progression of steps that are necessary to secure a reassessment of the property. In turn, we would then follow the steps appropriate to securing a refund of any over payment of taxes. We paid the $100,000 so that we could move forward and eventually strengthen La Casa finances.

La Casa has maintained a cordial working relationship with the County on the matter of property taxes and appreciates the staff support provided as we navigate the complexities of changing tax laws, shifting timelines, and iterations of issues that surface from other agencies and institutions as we proceed. While actively engaged in reassessment discussions with the County offices, it is true we did not pay our 2013 property tax by June 30, 2014—not because of willful disregard, but in respect to our current request for reassessment of the building, the $100,000 already paid that we anticipate being refunded in some portion, and our on-going work with County staff who are working with us to remedy the situation.

Contrary to the profile painted by certain members of the media that the Board and Staff are incompetent, and that we ignore the responsibilities of our duties, we are confident that our Board and Staff have worked diligently to identify and correct issues, and have responded in spite of limited resources, with successful resolutions to some matters and active negotiations for others. Much of this work requires securing appropriate legal counsel respective to each issue, and even within this outreach of professional support, some areas of the law that we are extracting even confounds the experts. However, we collectively remain focused, patient, and tenacious with a clear intention of La Casa’s success.

The legacy and contributions of many generations are nurtured under one roof in the distinctive building that distinguishes La Casa as a Community Center with ownership and responsibility for its own facility. La Casa is a destination with historic significance that is reflected in its original murals of the Chicano Arts movement and traditions of innovation in music, theater, poetry, dance, spoken word and the role of the arts to strengthen grassroots activism in Social Justice movements and cultural innovation over many decades of Santa Barbara’s past and present.

CREATE THE FUTURE OF LA CASA, is a fundraising campaign being initiated to support LCDLR. We appreciate your donations at this time and intend to publicize our campaign events in the near future.

Our Facebook presence can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/lacasadelaraza/info

 Tax Deductible Donations to our future can be made through our website DONATE button www.lacasadelaraza.org

 

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