Despite the defeat Thursday of a bill that would ease efforts by the San Fernando Valley to secede from the city of Los Angeles, supporters of the measure remained optimistic, promising that they will work to reintroduce legislation next year.
"I think we have just begun to fight," said Richard Leyner, a leader of the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley, which supported the bill.
While Leyner and other backers of the bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills) expressed disappointment, they were pleased that the bill garnered as much support as it did. The bill passed the Assembly but failed to get the necessary 21 votes in the Senate, even though it was favored by a 19-18 margin.
"I think to get so many votes on the first effort is gratifying and more than expected," said Richard Close, a Sherman Oaks activist and co-chair of Valley VOTE, a citizens group supporting the bill. "Our group is now focused on 1997."
Backers said they were encouraged because a separate Boland bill to ease the breakup of the Los Angeles Unified School District was not adopted on the first try.
"We expected that it would take a few tries," said Jeff Brain, the other co-chair of Valley VOTE.
The Boland bill would have eliminated the Los Angeles City Council's veto power over a secession vote by an area within the city. Although the bill may be reconsidered today, experts say it is unlikely to change the outcome.
Mayor Richard Riordan, who repeatedly declined to take a position on the bill except to say that he opposed a breakup of the city, said residents should now focus on government reform through an effort to rewrite the city's 71-year-old governing charter.
"Now that this piece of legislation has been defeated, the focus should be directed to a process where voters can participate in revitalizing their city government--charter reform," he said in a prepared statement.
Riordan also echoed supporters of the bill who said that the measure at least provided Valley residents with a vehicle for voicing discontent with the city government.
"The secession movement gave voice to Valley residents' longtime feelings that City Hall is distant, mired in red tape and not responsive enough to their concerns," he said. "I've heard these complaints from all parts of the city."
In fact, representatives of both sides said they hope that the energy behind the Boland bill can be channeled into a charter-reform drive.
Some opponents of the bill--while not jubilant over the measure's defeat--said they saw no positive impact from the bill.
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents Central Los Angeles and was among eight members who voted to oppose the measure in May, called it a "political ploy" by Boland to curry favor with her constituents.
"I don't think it was constructive nor do I think it was well-reasoned and particularly thoughtful," he said, adding that the bill "caused people to operate from a very narrow or parochial perspective."
Council President John Ferraro, who represents parts of North Hollywood and Studio City but lobbied to defeat the bill, declined to comment.
Councilman Richard Alarcon, who represents parts of the northeast Valley and supported the bill, said he believes that Valley residents will continue to seek a greater voice in local government, through either another secession bill or charter reform.
"I don't believe this is a fleeting thing," he said. "Clearly, charter reform has to move forward regardless of what happens."
But Councilman Hal Bernson, another Valley lawmaker who strongly supported the Boland bill, predicted that the defeat will only ignite anger throughout the city and increase the pressure to break it up.
"I think you are going to see the whole city broken up," he said. "When you tell people they can't do something, they will show you that they can."
* MAIN STORY: A1
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
How the State Senate Voted
ALQUIST, Alfred E. (D-Santa Clara): NO
AYALA, Ruben S. (D-Chino) NO
BEVERLY, Robert G. (R-Long Beach): YES
BOATWRIGHT, Daniel E. (D-Concord): *
CALDERON, Charles M. (D-Whittier): NO
COSTA, Jim (D-Fresno): NO
CRAVEN, William A. (R-Oceanside) YES
DILLS, RALPH C. (D-El Segundo): NO
GREENE, Leroy (D-Carmichael): NO
HAYDEN, Tom (D-Santa Monica): YES
HAYNES, RAY (R-Riverside): YES
HUGHES, Teresa (D-Inglewood): *
HURTT, Rob (R-Garden Grove): YES
JOHANNESSEN, Maurice (R-Redding): YES
JOHNSON, Ross (R-Irvine): YES
JOHNSTON, Patrick (D-Stockton): NO
KELLEY, David G. (R-Idyllwild): YES
KILLEA, Lucy (I-San Diego): NO
KOPP, Quentin L. (I-San Francisco): YES
LEONARD, Bill (R-San Bernardino): YES
LESLIE, TIM (R-Carnelian Bay): YES
LEWIS, John R. (R-Orange): YES
LOCKYER, Bill (D-Hayward): NO
MADDY, Ken (R-Fresno): YES
MARKS, Milton (D-San Francisco): NO
MELLO, Henry J. (D-Watsonville): NO
MONTIETH, Dick (R-Modesto): YES
MOUNTJOY, Richard (R-Arcadia): YES
O'CONNELL, Jack (D-Santa Barbara): NO
PEACE, Steve (D-Chula Vista): *
PETRIS, Nicholas C. (D-Oakland): NO
POLANCO, Richard G. (D-Los Angeles): NO