Keep Hitting Secession, Mr. Mayor


Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan’s forceful words Friday against Valley secession were a welcome if belated salvo. He was succinct and to the point: Secession would tear the city apart, while charter reform could create a government more responsive to all residents.

It’s just what the mayor needs to say much more often, and before as wide an audience as possible. On Friday, his closed audience included the several dozen Valley residents who serve on city commissions, and the admonishments were particularly appropriate.

“My main message is, make the city better . . . and stop doing things to tear the city apart,” the mayor said, clearly referring to a number of commissioners who claim to support charter reform but are also active in the secessionist movement.


Over the years, the mayor has often voiced his opposition to breakup of the city, but usually in brief references to the ways in which the city and the Valley would be harmed by a breakup. Only recently has he become more adamant and direct, telling San Fernando Valley business leaders late last year that secession is “a terrible idea.”

The mayor’s own numbers, for example, show that the Valley is not shortchanged on city services. Valley taxpayers make up 34% of the population, for example, and contribute 33% of the city’s tax revenue. The mayor’s office also said that the Valley receives 40% of street maintenance funds, 38% of building and safety funds, 37% of animal regulation services and 37% of sanitation services. The Valley now has nearly one-third of all city commissioners.

Moreover, Fire Chief William Bamattre said in an interview Monday that the Valley has recently received several more rescue ambulances and other resources. Police Chief Bernard Parks said in a separate interview that the LAPD is working on several proposals to improve police response times and service, including new police stations and a redeployment of forces in the Valley.

Finally, Riordan can’t emphasize enough one of the most complicated aspects of creating a new city: “The Valley would have to recreate a lot of costly infrastructure” and public services from police protection to street repairs to water supplies. The mayor is the person best situated to drive all of these points home to Valley residents and to the city as a whole. The more passionately he does so, the better.