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Business Leaders Insist Secession Is Not Dead

Business Leaders Insist Secession Is Not Dead By JACQUELINE FOX Staff Reporter The results of a recent survey of San Fernando Valley business leaders reflect what many involved in the cityhood movement have said since the Nov. 5 election: secession is not a dead issue. According to a post-election Valley Leadership Survey conducted jointly by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal and Cooper Communications in Woodland Hills, 51 percent of those polled believe that a second secession initiative should be back on the ballot in the near future. Only 36 percent of the respondents said they thought the secession issue ought to be put to rest; 13 percent had no opinion. Measure F, the secession initiative, was defeated by a 2-1 margin citywide; it passed narrowly in the Valley. A total of 45 Valley business leaders responded to the survey, originally sent out to 200. Of the 45, 64 percent said they supported the measure. Martin Cooper, president of Cooper Communications, said he was not surprised by the number of respondents who want to see another secession vote. He said, like those who have led the decades-long fight for cityhood, many in the Valley business community believe actions speak louder than words when it comes to making good on promises. Mayor James Hahn, in his post-Election Day pronouncements, vowed to heed the message that citizens of the San Fernando Valley were not getting their fair share of services. But until the Valley business community is witness to real change, said Cooper, the idea of a breakup is still alive. “I don’t think business people in the Valley believe yet that there are deeds to follow the mayor’s words,” said Cooper. “I think there is a level of skepticism about the city’s ability and desire to successfully grapple with the issues that were at the core of the secession movement.” But it goes deeper than that. Secession has been on the minds of Valley business leaders for years. Of the 51 percent who support another vote, some wish to remind the mayor and others that the concerns voiced were around long before the Hahn administration. “The San Fernando Valley was blackmailed into joining the city of Los Angeles over water issues and should never have been annexed in the first place,” said Walt Mosher, president of Precision Dynamics Corp. “The sooner San Fernando (Valley) becomes independent of Los Angeles, the better it will be for all residents and businesses.” Despite the support for a “Round Two,” some respondents originally opposed to secession haven’t changed their attitudes either, saying there are too many unknowns to the proposition and that the best approach is to work together for change. “At this time, when there are so many other things going on in the world, I believe that starting the secession issue again will cause further friction,” said Rosemarie Wolff, president of Royal Staffing Services. “Let’s see if our elected officials took heed and that some of the changes we were hoping to achieve will be implemented. Let’s put our efforts into assuring that these changes will take place.” While 56 percent of the respondents said they believed the city would be more concerned about issues impacting the Valley business community than before the election, 60 percent say there will be little improvement regarding the streamlining of city permitting and business tax and licensing procedures, and 51 percent said they think there will be little movement toward business tax reform. “These aren’t new issues,” said Cooper. “These are concerns that have been around for a long time and while some may prefer to take a wait-and-see attitude, others have been pushing for these changes for years.” Despite the support for a separate Valley city, 62 percent said they would like to see a borough system or a neighborhood council system with teeth as a way to more local control. Will the city be more, less or just as concerned about issues affecting the Valley than before the election? More: 56 percent Less: 20 percent No change: 24 percent Will there be further substantial business tax reform? Yes: 42 percent No: 51 percent No opinion: 7 percent Will there be improvements to the city’s business licensing and permitting procedures? Yes: 29 percent No: 60 percent No opinion: 9 percent

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