By RICHARD H. CLOSE If the San Fernando Valley becomes a separate city, there would be major economic benefits for Valley businesses. Currently Los Angeles businesses pay the highest taxes of any community in Southern California. A study by Kosmont & Associates shows that a company operating from a 10,000-square-foot office in Los Angeles would pay $60,000 in annual business taxes, license fees, etc. The same business would pay $667 in Burbank and less than $100 in Santa Clarita or Calabasas. No wonder businesses are leaving the San Fernando Valley. Many businesses must have a downtown Los Angeles location. However, many Valley businesses can (and are) easily moving to other nearby communities, thereby saving a tremendous amount of the money. The benefits to businesses if the Valley becomes a separate city include: ? Decisions affecting the San Fernando Valley would be made in the Valley by Valley residents and business people. No longer would you have to go downtown to speak to people who have little knowledge or concern for your problem. ? City representatives who are lobbying for funds in Washington or Sacramento would be focused strictly on the Valley needs. For instance, the city has received billions of dollars for rapid transit. All the Valley is getting is a transit stub in North Hollywood. Where is our rapid transit system? ? Valley police and fire services would be based here. A greater percentage of the new city budget could be allocated for public safety resources. ? All decisions affecting your business would be made in the Valley by city employees who are only concerned about Valley needs. ? The new city would focus on maintaining and increasing the middle-class residents who are needed as customers and employees. Currently these people are leaving the area and going to cleaner and safer communities such as Santa Clarita, Glendale, etc. Business in Burbank is bustling, but adjacent North Hollywood still is struggling. Businesses are choosing to locate in Glendale rather than North Hollywood. Why? Why can other nearby communities provide better city services without the extremely high taxes that Los Angeles charges Valley businesses? Los Angeles businesses and homeowners must pay a large real estate transfer tax. The tax is imposed on the sale price. It must be paid even if the property is sold at a loss. The tax does not exist in other communities. We must attract new businesses and stop the outflow of the middle class from the San Fernando Valley. There is growing belief that the Valley must have its own transit system and a separate school district. Only four of the 15 City Council members live in the San Fernando Valley. We represent over 42 percent of the city’s population, but we are under-represented at City Hall. No wonder we do not get our fair share of city services or project funding. Valley VOTE is completing its petition drive. If the organization obtains 135,000 valid signatures of registered San Fernando Valley voters, the governmental entity LAFCO will study the question of whether or not the Valley could be a viable city without adversely affecting the remainder of Los Angeles. If LAFCO decides that the Valley would be viable as a separate city, the proposal would be voted upon by Los Angeles residents. It would have to be approved by a majority of the Valley and a majority of the entire city (including the Valley). If the process goes as planned, the Valley could become a separate city in the year 2000 or 2002. Because of changes in the law, there has not been a division of a city in California since the 1890s, when Coronado separated from San Diego. The state law was changed last year to make it possible for the Valley to become a separate city. Now is the time for businesses and residents to join together. Richard H. Close is an attorney, chairman of Valley VOTE and president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association.