YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Valley

New City Requires Leap of Faith, League Says


In a report released Saturday, the California League of Women Voters concluded that a Valley secession election would be decided on faith in "a rather vague notion."

The league's local chapter has been interviewing heads of city departments, the secession group Valley VOTE and the Local Agency Formation Commission since October 2000. So far, it has determined that information coming from pro-secession and anti-secession camps is too different and too complex for voters to make a choice based on facts alone.

"Our position and voters' decisions will not be based on the specifics of the LAFCO report [that concluded Valley secession is viable], because there are too many ambiguities," said Xandra Kayden, chairwoman of the league's secession committee. "Some will say the devil we know--the city as it is right now--is better than the devil we don't.

"Others will decide they can live with a higher degree of ambiguity." Some of the questions remaining are: Would residents of the proposed city be guaranteed the same utility rates they now pay the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power? Would the new city contract services such as fire and police from Los Angeles or from the county? Would the new city hire existing Los Angeles employees?

Hermalee Schmidt, former chairwoman of the league's secession committee, said: "We're buying a pig in a poke.

"No one's statistics agree, and the terms are still being negotiated," she said. "Some of them will still be worked out after the election, and this is the most important issue in recent times for this area."

Schmidt said the league will try to take a position before November, when secession proposals for the Valley, the harbor area and Hollywood could go to a citywide vote. LAFCO is to decide that matter next month.

The league chapter has 600 active members, Kayden said. But its influence goes beyond its membership, particularly through its Web site,, which is widely believed to be one of the most comprehensive unofficial voter guides.

"When the league takes a position, it's like the Good Housekeeping seal [of approval], because people know we don't have a vested interest and that we have looked at [the issue] in depth."

Los Angeles Times Articles