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Most on Council Oppose New Valley Secession Bill

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A majority of Los Angeles City Council members said Tuesday that they oppose a new legislative effort that would clear the way for the San Fernando Valley to secede if two-thirds of Valley voters support it.

The bill, proposed by Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar) and supported by Valley Councilman Richard Alarcon, would eliminate the council’s power to veto a secession if the effort received a two-thirds vote.

Cardenas offered the bill as an effort to “find a middle ground” between supporters of three other secession bills currently under consideration in Sacramento.

Alarcon, who represents parts of the northeast Valley, introduced a motion Tuesday asking his colleagues on the council to endorse the bill. A formal vote is expected next month.

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But the bill has already generated more criticism in City Hall than support. In interviews, nine of the 15 council members indicated that they would not support it.

Several Valley council members said the two-thirds requirement is too high and would give little more than one-third of the voters the power to block a secession effort.

“I prefer a simple majority vote,” said Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents parts of the east Valley.

Meanwhile, council members from outside the Valley said they would give up their veto power only if the secession measure is put to a citywide vote.

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“It still seems to me that people south of Mulholland whose taxes helped pay for the infrastructure in the Valley should have a right to vote,” said Councilwoman Rita Walters, who represents parts of South Los Angeles.

Cardenas will formally introduce the bill in Sacramento on Thursday. It will then be assigned to an Assembly committee for study.

The bill, however, does not appear to have the support of state Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward), who took a key role last summer in defeating a secession bill by then-Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills).

Lockyer spokesman Sandy Harrison said the senator would not support any secession bill unless voters throughout the city have a voice in a breakup. Lockyer is chairman of the powerful Rules Committee and has strong influence over the fate of bills in the Senate.

Lockyer has introduced his own bill, which would eliminate the council veto but require a citywide vote and a state-funded study on the effects of dividing Los Angeles.

The Cardenas bill is part of a resurgence of activity in Sacramento over the proposed breakup of the city of Los Angeles.

Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Northridge) has introduced legislation that is a virtual copy of Boland’s bill. It would eliminate the council’s veto power over secession efforts, giving Valley voters the final decision on a breakup.

Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) introduced another bill that would require a citywide vote only if the area that seeks secession represents more than one-third of the city’s population. In cases involving smaller parts of Los Angeles, only voters in the area seeking independence would have a vote.

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