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Hollywood Not Ready to Split

Times poll: About 60% of voters in the area don't want to break from L.A., saying they are generally pleased with city services.


Hollywood voters want their area to stay in Los Angeles at least as much as the rest of the city does, with fewer than a quarter of them favoring Hollywood secession, a Times poll shows.

In fact, nowhere in the city, and within no category of voters, does Hollywood independence win a majority. In Los Angeles as a whole, 59% oppose Hollywood secession. In Hollywood, 61% are against it.

The deepest backing for Hollywood cityhood is in the west San Fernando Valley, a secession stronghold, but even there it is trailing, with just 38% support.

Hollywood voters are generally content with life in their neighborhoods and the quality of city services, the poll found. Where they see problems, most don't see secession as a solution.

They also are unhappy with the quickness with which Hollywood secession made the Nov. 5 ballot. While Valley secession has been discussed for decades, the Hollywood campaign, led by millionaire nightclub owner Gene La Pietra, began quietly about 2 1/2 years ago and received little attention until recently.

Nearly one-third of Hollywood voters polled said they weren't aware that their neighborhood was within the borders of the proposed city of roughly 160,000. About four in 10 said they are upset about being part of the secession area.

"They're not pleased about it," Times Poll Director Susan Pinkus said. "They feel that Hollywood is L.A. and L.A. is Hollywood. Hollywood is right in the middle of the city and they don't feel that it should be separated."

Hollywood secession is opposed by Democrats, Republicans and independent voters. Liberals oppose it by a 3-1 margin, and only a third of conservatives favor it. The proposal also fails among voters of every age group and income level, especially the poor. It loses as well across gender lines, and among whites, Latinos and African Americans.

To create a city, Hollywood secessionists need to win a majority of votes within their proposed boundaries and a majority in the city as a whole. Leaders of the secession drive have said the Valley cityhood campaign will help the Hollywood effort, but the poll results show little evidence of that.

The poll was conducted June 20-28. It surveyed 1,291 registered voters citywide, with a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points in either direction. The survey included 120 registered voters in Hollywood, with a margin of sampling error of 9 percentage points.

Across Los Angeles, voters view Hollywood secession more negatively than they do Valley secession. Outside the Valley and Hollywood, two-thirds of city voters come out against Hollywood's independence bid, while just over half oppose a Valley breakaway.

"With the Valley, there's a definite divider. You've got the mountains. You've got Mulholland Drive. There's a physical, geographical division," said John Murphy, 27, a Los Feliz wardrobe stylist and poll respondent who supports secession by the Valley, but not Hollywood.

"Hollywood is just so much more in the heart of Los Angeles. I just believe Hollywood is historically part of Los Angeles."

In Hollywood, as in the Valley, secessionists have complained that the city does not give their area its "fair share" of services.

Asked which area the city treats unfairly, 42% of Valley voters named the Valley.

In contrast, only 10% of Hollywood voters said the city treats Hollywood unfairly. Meanwhile, a quarter of Hollywood voters said the city is unfair to South-Central Los Angeles.

Asked to name the worst problem facing their area, Hollywood voters chose traffic first (12%), followed closely by crime and poor schools (each 11%). Asked whether secession would solve what they consider to be the biggest problem, 57% said it would not.

At the same time, Hollywood voters said they see major downsides to seceding--with 46% saying Hollywood's secession would hurt the rest of the city, and 61% saying that they would end up paying more taxes.

"As things stand, I'm perfectly happy with the way things are. I don't see any problems. We all get the [garbage] pickup and all the service we need," said Roslyn Shapiro, 83, who could watch sheep grazing in a meadow across from her home when she first moved to the Hollywood Hills 51 years ago.

"Our only problem is traffic, and it would be hard to see how that would be better if we secede. I don't think breaking up the city is the way to get better services. I think taxes will have to go up."

Aaron Michelson, 24, who rents an apartment in Hollywood, said he had heard of Valley secession on the radio but didn't know his area could wind up outside of Los Angeles until he got a call from the Times pollster. Michelson said he had no problem with city services.

"I'm not really conscious of it, and that's probably a good thing. I mean the garbage gets picked up. I've never been mugged and needed the police," he said. If anything, he said, laughing, the city's parking enforcement officers work too efficiently.

As for the idea of secession in general, he said: "My initial reaction was, 'Oh, that's selfish of Hollywood, wanting to separate.' I always thought that Los Angeles was the sum of its parts."

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