Secedeside/8″/mark2nd By CHRISTOPHER WOODARD Staff Reporter The trouble Valley VOTE had in obtaining signatures for a study of secession may end up seeming like a petty hassle compared to the Herculean task of breaking up one of the nation’s largest cities. Separating the San Fernando Valley and its 1.6 million inhabitants from Los Angeles would represent the most complicated divorce in history, with both sides ready to go to war over the community property. “It will be monumental. It’s never been done anywhere in the country,” said Larry Calemine, executive director of the Local Agency Formation Commission, the agency that would referee any split. If Valley VOTE gets enough signatures on its petitions, the first step toward secession will be the filing of an application with LAFCO to detach the Valley from the city and create a stand-alone city. Richard Close, chairman of Valley VOTE, said his committee is preparing to file the application in the coming days. Calemine must then hire a team of professionals to undertake an unprecedented study looking at the economic ramifications of secession specifically, how revenue and expenditures, assets and liabilities should be divided. Initial estimates put the cost of the study at $1 million to $2 million, but Calemine now says that the cost will be $8.1 million. It’s unclear who will pay for the work, but certainly LAFCO doesn’t have that kind of money. If the money is found, and the study completed, LAFCO, a nine-member agency made up mostly of elected leaders from L.A. County and its cities, would then give the thumbs up or down to Valley secession. If the board agrees to the split, the issue would be put to the voters, where it will have to be approved by a majority in the Valley and a majority in the city as a whole. Close hopes the issue can be before the voters by 2000, but Calemine said the Valley will be lucky to see it on the ballot until 2002, due to the difficulty and complexity of the study. “Before we’re through with this process, we’ll have the eyes of the national media watching every step we take,” said Calemine.