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Dividing County

June 30, 1996

* The issue of the Valley splitting away from Los Angeles is one instance of a general problem: that the political entities within L.A. County are either too big or too small. Los Angeles has over 3.5 million people, about 40% of the county; at the other extreme there are over 50 cities with less than 50,000 people each, totaling less than 15% of the county.

Almost anything with the name Los Angeles is too big, starting with the county itself, but including the city, school district and judicial district. Every other entity, with the possible exception of Long Beach, is too small.

Too big means dis-economies of scale, lack of connection between the voters and the politicians and no real control by elected officials over career professional employees. Too small means minimal press coverage, difficulty in attracting professional civil servants and low voter turnout. In neither case is there any real voter control. The problem is well recognized in the case of the city and county. For the small entities, the control is just a political sound bite.

Instead of arguing about splitting the Valley from the city or increasing the number of county supervisors or dividing up the school district, we ought to create a citizens' committee to consider dividing the county into boroughs that would take the place of the Los Angeles County government and all of the city governments.

LOUIS MARIENTHAL

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