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A Hollywood Block Buster

June 25, 2002

Hollywood secession moved from petition to ballot so quickly that some Los Angeles residents are just now realizing that their neighborhoods fall within the boundaries of the proposed city--and they are not happy with the discovery.

Blame the confusion, at least in part, on some bad habits that Californians have acquired over recent years. One is to be a little too casual about signing petitions thrust before us on grocery store parking lots. Another is to not pay attention to what is happening in the local political realm until it happens on our block. Sometimes the two overlap, as they have in Hollywood.

Many of those who signed the petition that launched the secession process believed that they were asking for a study only, not realizing that should the study favor secession, a vote would automatically follow.

Others didn't expect the study to move so much more quickly than a similar San Fernando Valley study begun two years earlier--after decades spent talking about it. This means that future breakup proposals for other sections of the city, including within the Valley, could move as quickly, especially if voters in November approve Valley and Hollywood secession. For lack of attention, residents throughout Los Angeles, not just around Hollywood, could find themselves leaving a city they never sought to leave, without ever putting their homes on the market or calling a moving van.

Half a dozen neighborhood groups asked to be removed from the proposed Hollywood city boundaries. The Local Agency Formation Commission, the little-known government group charged with overseeing secession, agreed to some requests. But it refused requests by the Los Feliz Improvement Assn. and the Melrose Hill Neighborhood Assn. to exclude parts of those neighborhoods because that would have deprived a Hollywood city of income it needed to be financially independent--a qualification for getting on the ballot.

And the commission made no secret of its determination to get both Hollywood and the Valley on the same ballot. Yet even within a group that proved to be more cheerleader than judge, three commissioners complained that in the rush, questions about Hollywood boundaries went unresolved.

The commission has until a July 24 hearing to reconsider the boundaries of the proposed Hollywood, an unlikely prospect. If neighborhoods that never wanted to be part of a proposed Hollywood wound up in it after the secession vote, what could they do? They could petition to secede from Hollywood. Where does it end?

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