Many spoke of feeling betrayed. "I still haven't told my kids," said Enrique Gomez, 33, a city maintenance worker for the last 16 years who will lose his job and $56,000 yearly salary. "There is no plan if we get laid off. There's unemployment, and work is hard to find. But I need to find a job, even if it's at McDonald's making" minimum wage.
Adding to the uncertainty is that much of the city's outsourcing plans are still up in the air. A deal to have the Orange County Fire Authority take over city fire protection is still in the works. And City Council members have said that if they can't find private contractors to replace city staff, the layoffs could be rescinded.
"What should I do? Aggressively search for another job, or try and weather the storm?" said Gant Corum, 36, a city fleet mechanic targeted for layoff. His wife gave birth to their first child, Caroline, three weeks ago.
Valente Martinez, 27, a park maintenance and irrigation worker, said he and his wife, who works part time, live from paycheck to paycheck.
Last year, they were finally able to scrape up enough money to put a down payment on a home; their newest car is a 1995 Camry.
Now, one of the couple's two daughters needs an MRI to scan for a possible tumor, a procedure that will cost $2,500 out of pocket, he said.
"Where am I going to come up with that money?" said Martinez, whose birthday was Thursday.
"Worst birthday ever," he said.