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Candidates for Council Clash Over Secession

Election: Greuel says the San Fernando Valley doesn't get its fair share from L.A. Cardenas says he opposes a split.


The contest for the Los Angeles City Council's 2nd District seat sparked some fireworks Wednesday when entertainment executive Wendy Greuel and Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar) clashed over San Fernando Valley secession and development of Ventura Boulevard.

Flush with campaign cash and influential endorsements, the two candidates are competing to fill the East Valley council seat left vacant by the Oct. 1 resignation of Councilman Joel Wachs.

With the Dec. 11 special election less than a month away, Cardenas and Greuel drew 30 people to the forum sponsored by the Studio City Residents Assn. The event was held at the Sportsmen's Lodge. The third candidate in the race, Van Nuys businessman James Cordaro, also participated.

Greuel, a Van Nuys resident and executive with DreamWorks SKG, said she is awaiting a study on the financial impacts of secession before taking a position.

"I love the city; I was born and raised here and hope we can keep the city together," Greuel said. "But the bottom line is the San Fernando Valley hasn't received its fair share."

Cardenas, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1996, said he opposes secession. He said Los Angeles has not had similar complaints about the state.

"It's because we have been bringing resources to the city," said Cardenas.

Both said, however, they support putting secession on the ballot.

Cardenas denied Greuel's charges that he has changed his position on the issue based on his audience.

Asked about the blighted conditions on Ventura Boulevard in sections of Studio City, the candidates offered different approaches to making the street more attractive.

Cardenas said Los Angeles' Targeted Neighborhood Initiative program, which is funded with federal money, should be used to spruce up Ventura Boulevard.

Cordero said he is opposed to the Community Redevelopment Agency being involved because it diverts taxes from other services.

Cordero and Greuel agreed that more funding is needed. Greuel called for a moratorium on auto-related businesses opening on the boulevard.

"We need to ensure that we no longer allow auto body shops and car sales in this part of the boulevard and that we have businesses that bring in pedestrian traffic," Greuel said.

The council district includes all of Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills and La Tuna Canyon, and parts of Sun Valley, North Hollywood, Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Panorama City, Mission Hills, North Hills, Valley Village, Studio City and Van Nuys.

Cardenas and Greuel are both expected to spend the maximum $330,000 allowed for candidates who accept city matching funds.

Each candidate picked up key endorsements in recent days. Cardenas won the backing of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley. Greuel won endorsements from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Central City Assn., as well as two major environmental groups, the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club of Los Angeles.

If no candidate wins a majority of the vote Dec. 11, a runoff election featuring the top two vote-getters will be held March 5, 2002.

The deadline to register to vote in the Dec. 11 election is Nov. 26. Residents who want to vote by mail must file applications for absentee ballots by Dec. 4.

Voters can get more information by calling the City Clerk at 213-978-0444 or by signing on to the clerk's Web site at

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