New Count Adds to Valley Cityhood Loss

Times Staff Writer

The margin of defeat for San Fernando Valley secession grew slightly Tuesday with a new tally of citywide votes that were not counted on election night.

The measure was defeated Nov. 5 by 66.98% of the vote, according to the new results released Tuesday by the county, up from 66.93% on election night.

About 43,000 provisional ballots have yet to be reviewed countywide, and some of those may be counted in a final tally. Provisional ballots represent votes cast by people whose names do not appear on a polling site’s list of registered voters.

There is no chance, however, the outcome for Valley and Hollywood secession measures would change.


The measure’s lead in the Valley expanded by a hair Tuesday after a tally of provisional ballots from Los Angeles. Those ballots were not counted on election night.

The election night count in the Valley had cityhood supporters outnumbering opponents by 3,760 votes, but that margin was up Tuesday to 3,770 votes in the Valley after 41,745 additional provisional and absentee ballots were counted citywide.

Officials hope to wrap up counting this week and certify the final tally on Dec. 2.

“I believe it’s going to end up with a majority in the Valley,” Valley VOTE chairman Richard Close said. “I think it’s highly unlikely it will be overturned based on the number of votes left.”

There are about 4,500 provisional Valley ballots -- all turned in on election day -- that have not been reviewed to determine whether they were properly cast and therefore should be counted, according to a spokeswoman for the county registrar-recorder’s office.

Valley secession leaders are still considering whether to file a lawsuit seeking to throw out the citywide vote and only count ballots cast in the Valley.

Close said that while secession failed to pass, he considers it a victory that it carried in the Valley.

“It sends a very strong message that the majority of voters in the San Fernando Valley are displeased and want their own city,” he said.


Valley secession leaders have scheduled a meeting for Monday to discuss their next steps. Close said it is very unlikely the public meeting will include a discussion of legal options.

Close said that issue is still being analyzed by attorneys advising Valley VOTE.

“I personally believe that if our attorney tells us there is a good likelihood of success, we should proceed,” Close said.

But some activists who had considered such a move are now urging the leadership not to go to court. Former mayoral candidate Bruce Boyer said he consulted an attorney with the intent to file a suit but has determined there are no winnable grounds to challenge the state law that sets election rules.


“If there was a guy who would sue over it, it was me,” Boyer said. “But I have concluded there is nothing to pursue. It’s pointless.”

Boyer on Tuesday released a three-page analysis by his Pasadena-based attorney, George M. Wallace, who determined the U.S. and California constitutions give broad discretion to the state Legislature to adopt laws governing the holding of elections.

Wallace wrote that the courts would most likely uphold the election laws unless the state Legislature has acted in a way that is “openly discriminatory,” and that efforts to pursue litigation over the secession vote “will simply be a waste of resources.”

Boyer said he hopes to convey that conclusion to Close.


“Tilting at windmills when you know you are going to lose creates nothing but hostility,” Boyer said.

Similar concerns were voiced Tuesday by Benny Bernal, who finished second in the Valley mayoral race, and Frank Sheftel, a former Valley council candidate who is organizing a new group called the United Valley Coalition.

“My personal opinion is if the Valley had voted overwhelmingly for secession we might have had a stronger case, but to just squeak by, I don’t think we have a good chance in court,” Sheftel said.