Richard Close, a leader in the San Fernando Valley secession movement and president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. for more than 40 years, died Jan. 31 at the age of 77.
Close was a leader in the legal, political, and business communities.
He was instrumental in advancing the interests of the San Fernando Valley in efforts to obtain more governmental services from the city of Los Angeles. Close chaired the group Valley VOTE, which supported a secession effort over the belief that the Valley did not receive its fair share of city services. The movement culminated in a ballot measure in 2002 that would have allowed the Valley to leave Los Angeles and form its own city. Voters rejected the measure citywide.
Close was heavily involved in his neighborhood, serving as president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association since 1977. In this role, he worked on the passage of Proposition 13, a ballot initiative that immediately reduced California property taxes by more than 50 percent, viewed by many as the most significant tax legislation in the last 100 years in California; the adoption of Proposition U, which slowed development citywide; and the appropriation of federal highway funds to benefit residents of the Valley.
Close was an original founder of California United Bank and served on its board of directors through its initial public offering and subsequent acquisition by Bank of Hawaii.
As an attorney, Close, who lived in Sherman Oaks, was a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Real Estate Practice Group since 2017, when he and his partners from the real estate and commercial litigation boutique Gilchrist & Rutter joined the firm. Close’s practice focused on all aspects of land use entitlements, administrative and regulatory law, project development and financing, manufactured housing communities, and governmental relations and advocacy.
Close also appeared as a guest on public radio talk shows, was quoted on local politics in the Los Angeles Times, and was named to the list of the “Top 40 Real Estate Lawyers to Know” by the Business Journal. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles once called Close “one of the most powerful people in Los Angeles who most people don’t know.”
Close is survived by his wife Sally, son Matthew Close and daughter Dr. Abby Close Emdur and four grandchildren.