Faced with the prospect of a city rent in two, Mayor Richard Riordan went to the hotbed of San Fernando Valley secession Tuesday and vowed to campaign aggressively against the breakup of Los Angeles.
Riordan said the petition drive for a study of secession, which ended successfully Monday, is "democracy in action," but he predicted the analysis will find that Valley cityhood is not financially feasible.
Riordan told 70 Republican activists that secession will not benefit any resident, will especially hurt poor people and is wrong.
"I will use every persuasive power I have to show the people of the Valley that secession is not in the best interest of the Valley, and it certainly is not in the best interest of the city as a whole," Riordan said in a speech to the Lincoln Club in Tarzana.
The mayor predicted that the secession study will show that Valley cityhood is "not feasible or practical" financially.
"I think that when the study comes out, you will find that the increased taxes which would have to be paid to build up an infrastructure in the Valley would not be worth the price," Riordan said. "It's going to cost the people in the Valley more in taxes."
Valley VOTE Chairman Richard Close later disputed Riordan, saying that Proposition 13 would require any new taxes to be approved by the voters.
"My opinion is that the study will show we can increase the level of services and keep taxes the same," Close said.
Riordan, mayor for the last six years, said that is not possible.
"Much of the infrastructure of the city is run from downtown and various [other] parts of the city, so they are going to have to duplicate a central police station, fire station, public works, building and safety and on and on," Riordan said. "I have no estimate of what it [the cost] is, but I can assure people it's going to be astronomical."
The mayor also said it would send the wrong message for the more affluent Valley to "desert" poorer areas in other parts of L.A.
"If you are putting [helping] poor people as the main goal, I think this is the wrong message and the wrong approach," he said.