Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California


An increase puts sales tax at record level.



When I got to the newsroom at 8:30, I knew it was time for me to finally get off campus.  I had done three on campus stories, so I knew when I got to the news room that I would be prepared to take on a tougher story.  Even though it was USC Pro Day, I decided to let Jaime do the story because she had been given the tougher stories previously. 

When I heard that the city of Pico Rivera had the highest sales tax rates in all of California, I immediately keyed in.  Pico Rivera a white collar city with many small businesses.  Last year, the city voted with 69% approval to increase taxes to help cut down the deficit, and fund education and public safety programs.

To cover the story, I wanted to talk to city council to see if there were any regrets with increases the taxes, and find out how local business are responding.  I also wanted to get local businesses and car dealerships to see how they would be impacted. 

I thought that a lot of my piece would just be found in Pico Rivera so I took off at 10:30 to go to city council to talk to someone about the tax hike.  I ended up speaking with Councilman Ron Beilke about the tax increase, and he provided personal insight as a small business owner himself.  He recommended me to some local businesses that may also be effected.  He sent me to Salsa Grill, which is a local restaurant owned by Jess Zapien.  Before I could even get a word out, Zapien began complain about the taxes.  He said that although it would only be about one or two dollars per bill, but that could add up to a lot. 

Zapien says that sales taxes really effect local businesses and that he would even consider moving just to get away from it.  He said that the down economy would make it even more difficult to find business in the mostly senior community of Pico Rivera. 

Although the community is effected by the tax hike, city council says that the increase in sales tax would provide an additional six million dollars for the city ever year.  The city faces a deficit of $4.8 million that this increase would hope to eliminate.

Both Zapien and Beilke said that they didn't expect the state to also increase taxes when the measure was first passed.

The final element that I wanted to include was car dealerships, but I had a lot of trouble finding a car dealership that would talk.  Every lot was empty and the employees didn't seem very excited about the prospect of talking to the media.  To cover this, I used random interviews with residents to talk about how they felt about the increase. 

I found one woman who was born and raised in Pico Rivera and said that she thinks that the community needs all the help it can get.  She added that although the city is need of the money, people need to be careful with their money especially with the tight economy.

Leave a comment

We've Moved!

By Sam Bergum
01/21/16 | 11:09 a.m. PST

Visit us at!

USC Basketball Knocks Off Rival UCLA 89- 75

By Scott Cook
01/14/16 | 12:05 a.m. PST

USC defeats UCLA with stellar play from their Freshmen. 

Holiday Bowl - USC vs Wisconsin Post-Game Press Conference

Su'a Cravens: "It's the players that need to step up"

Darreus Rogers: "It comes down to the players"

Trojans Fall to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl 23-21

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.