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Monday, May 29, 2023


The Valley’s movement to study cityhood is healthy and gaining strength. Last year the state Legislature and the governor gave California residents the right to explore the benefits of creating their own smaller cities. The first step in the process is a study by LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) to examine the feasibility of cityhood. Valley VOTE is a diverse Valley-wide coalition of residents, educators, business leaders and community organizations that is doing the groundwork and raising funds necessary to do the petitions and get the issue to LAFCO. Just two months after incorporating, we already have nearly 3,000 volunteers. When was the last time any effort in Los Angeles had that kind of support? A poll of Valley voters that was commissioned on the issues of Valley cityhood, charter reform and people’s satisfaction with L.A. city government showed the following: ? 94.1 percent of voters are aware of the issue of Valley cityhood. ? 76.4 percent favor having the studies on Valley cityhood completed. ? 72.6 percent believe a new Valley city would be more efficient. ? 64.5 percent believe their quality of life would be better if the Valley became a separate city. ? 81.2 percent favor having the question of Valley cityhood put on the ballot for a vote. ? 80.2 percent are willing to sign the petition asking LAFCO to study the issue so an election can be held. If a Vote were held today, Valley voters would favor cityhood by a margin of two to one. Valley businesses have much to gain from exploring Valley cityhood. Businesses in Los Angeles are paying much of the taxes that pay for the waste of an inefficient city government. “The Cost of Doing Business Report” by Kosmont & Associates Inc., once again cited Los Angeles as the most expensive city in Southern California in which to do business. Valley businesses must compete every day with companies in cities surrounding the Valley that pay lower taxes and fees. The impact is obvious at the eastern end of the Valley, where Burbank and Glendale are thriving. The boom stops right at the North Hollywood and Sun Valley boundary due to the city of L.A.’s high taxes and unfriendly business attitude. Business districts in the Valley don’t get the support business districts receive in surrounding cities. The Van Nuys commercial core has long been neglected and allowed to decline. Yet, non-Valley council members initially sought to cut back the $1 million in funds targeted to revitalize Van Nuys while spending over $300 million on the downtown City Hall renovation and approving a $3 billion plan to create a new downtown government center. There are 87 smaller independent cities in Los Angeles County that surround Los Angeles. All of them pay lower business taxes while offering a more inviting business climate and better public services. Howard Husock of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government issued a report in January confirming that smaller cities are more cost efficient and better able to tailor their services to the needs of their residents and business community. The Kennedy Report also found that smaller cities have less NIMBY-ism. Residents and businesses in smaller cities become partners, with the tax revenues raised by local businesses staying in the local community to make improvements from which local residents directly benefit better parks, schools, streets and other services. Neighborhoods in Los Angeles feel they get all the negatives (increased traffic, noise, crime, etc.) but none of the benefits that might otherwise cause them to accept the negatives. Taxes go downtown and never return. Yet, Pasadena has Old Town. Santa Monica has Third Street Promenade. Burbank, Glendale, and San Fernando all enjoy vibrant business climates with the support of local residents. Rather then steaming ahead with secession, Valley VOTE is taking a pragmatic approach to the question of Valley cityhood. Some Valley VOTE members strongly support secession, while others are undecided pending more information. However, we all agree on one thing the right of the Valley to study the facts about Valley cityhood. The studies are the next step in the process and not a step backward. Valley VOTE will soon launch the petition drive required to start the LAFCO studies that will answer all the public’s questions before it is asked to vote on the issue. Based on the results, the people of the San Fernando Valley will decide if cityhood is the right option for them. Meanwhile, support for exploring Valley cityhood and Valley VOTE’s pragmatic approach is growing, not shrinking. Jeff Brain, Richard Close and Bruce Bialosky are all officers of Valley VOTE, an organization formed to study the feasibility of an independent San Fernando Valley city.

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