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Valley City Police Force Is Proposed

October 04, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A group of City Council candidates on the San Fernando Valley secession ballot said Thursday that the Valley should form its own police force and increase the number of officers in the area from 1,500 to 4,000.

The proposal is part of the candidates' "Vision Statement for the San Fernando Valley."

It was released Thursday by candidates Kim Thompson of the proposed 1st District, Jose Roy Garcia of the 7th, Joyce Pearson of the 8th, Ron Cleary of the 9th and Richard Leyner of the 13th.

Pearson, an attorney, said a Valley city would pay for the expanded police force with money saved from annual reductions in separation payments that the new municipality would have to make to Los Angeles.

The payments would start at $127 million and drop by 5% a year. Pearson said it would take about five years to hire 2,500 more officers. "The new city would have flexibility to put [money] into policing as a top priority," she added.

Kam Kuwata, an advisor to Mayor James K. Hahn's anti-secession campaign, scoffed at the candidates' proposal.

"The city of Los Angeles is involved in increasing the police force already and is actively recruiting," Kuwata said. "The difference is in Los Angeles we are going to have the money to pay for that. In a new Valley city, where they are talking about cutting this tax and that tax, I don't know where they are going to find the funds."

The candidates' vision statement calls for drafting a master plan for "controlled growth" in a new city, and giving neighborhood councils a role in government decisions.

The candidates also said a Valley city should determine whether the Sunshine Canyon Landfill near Granada Hills can be phased out and the trash burned to create energy.

Also Thursday, Valley mayoral candidate Keith Richman released his blueprint for improving city services, which includes increasing from one to four the number of rapid bus lines planned for dedicated right-of-ways in the area.

Richman also said a Valley city should lobby the state and federal governments to fund construction of light rail or monorail lines along the Ventura, San Diego and Golden State freeways.

"A smart use of rail can help relieve freeway congestions [and] is a much more cost-effective way to reduce congestion than the subway system promoted by the downtown interests," Richman said.

Kuwata said Richman's proposals were unrealistic, given the lack of available funding. "There should be a big sign that says, 'Voter Beware of Promises,' " he said.

The offices sought by the candidates will exist only if secession wins in the Nov. 5 election.

Meanwhile, Hollywood secessionists said Thursday that they have asked a county commission to prepare a petition for creating a separate Hollywood school district. The district would be carved out of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The November secession measures have nothing to do with schools. But secessionists argue that Hollywood's best chance of getting its own school district is to first secede from the city.

"The only way breaking up the LAUSD can be done is if Hollywood is its own city because the city of Los Angeles will never allow it to happen otherwise," said campaign manager Geoffrey Garfield. "They're all about maintaining the status quo."

School district breakups are subject to approval by the state Board of Education. Last year, the board rejected a bid by Valley residents to split two districts off from L.A. Unified.

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Times staff writer Nita Lelyveld contributed to this report.

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