Officials Join Effort to Split L.A. County

The city of San Fernando has jumped on the secession bandwagon by joining a state-supported drive to explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of splitting Los Angeles County into two or three smaller counties.

A bill introduced by Assemblyman George Runner Jr. (R-Lancaster) and approved by the state Legislature last year allows cities to band together to create the Los Angeles County Division Commission. This commission will conduct a two-year, $1-million study--paid for by member cities--of the efficiency of county government. The commission must represent at least 20% of the county's total population, or about 2 million people, by the end of the year, said Greg Matranga, a district director for Runner.

So far, Matranga said, six cities with a total population of 600,000 people are participating in the effort. However, he added that he expects several large cities to join the commission soon.

By joining the effort, San Fernando Mayor Raul Godinez II said he hoped to gain more local representation and more tax dollars for the city through the creation of a separate county in the Valley.

"Right now we have 88 cities and almost 10 million people in the county competing for the attention of five supervisors," he said. "The level of attention we'd receive as a city would be greater, and we'd get a greater share of our tax dollars back."

However, San Fernando Councilman Doude Wysbeek said he's not convinced several smaller county governments would be more efficient than one large one.

"I endorse the idea of the study, but I'm not necessarily endorsing the idea to split the county up," Wysbeek said. "If you split the county up you have to hire more people, and, to me, less government is better than more government."

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