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Los Angeles

Secessionists, City Told to Resolve Terms of Breakup

Talks: If the Valley activists and L.A. officials can't agree, LAFCO may set the conditions for them, Yaroslavsky warns.

January 08, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The head of a panel drafting terms for San Fernando Valley cityhood advised secessionists and Los Angeles city officials Monday to resolve their disputes over terms of the split or risk conditions they might not want.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who heads a subcommittee of the Local Agency Formation Commission, also suggested that the Valley and Harbor areas may have to let Los Angeles continue providing sewer service without dividing ownership of the sewer lines.

Yaroslavsky weighed in on the secession issue as his panel began deliberating terms of a possible municipal divorce. Valley VOTE President Jeff Brain and Los Angeles Chief Legislative Analyst Ron Deaton detailed for the panel where the two sides agree and where they disagree, including sewers.

"I just want to caution you against gamesmanship," Yaroslavsky told representatives of both sides.

If the two sides fail to agree on how to divide assets and liabilities, it will be left to LAFCO to set terms and conditions to accomplish those tasks.

"You are better off [reaching agreement] than taking a chance on what we are going to recommend," Yaroslavsky said.

Valley VOTE prefers the creation of a joint-powers authority under which the Valley would share ownership of the sewer system with Los Angeles, Brain said. That would protect the Valley from discriminatory rates, he told the panel.

LAFCO Executive Director Larry Calemine told the panel that the Valley VOTE proposals do not appear practical or legal.

Yaroslavsky said the issue might be settled by a requirement that Los Angeles charge the Valley the same rates charged in the rest of the city while maintaining full ownership of the system.

"There is a logic to it," he said.

The county counsel is researching whether LAFCO has the power to require uniform sewer rates. City officials have questioned whether the agency has that authority.

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