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Valley Secessionists Present First TV Ad

Campaign: Low-budget spot is produced by a city council candidate. Also, business leaders vow to spur redevelopment.

October 08, 2002|SHARON BERNSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nudging the campaign to break up Los Angeles forward on a shoestring, San Fernando Valley secessionists on Monday began airing their first television commercial, a low-budget cable spot that says City Hall ignores local needs.

At the same time, a group of local business leaders who have long pushed for secession vowed to help an independent Valley city use redevelopment money to build industrial parks throughout the area and expand commercial space on Ventura Boulevard.

The TV ad was produced by a secession supporter, Garrett Biggs, who is running for a seat on the city council that would be created if the Valley became a city.

Biggs, who donated most of the work, cobbled the spot together from footage of a commercial he filmed for his own campaign. He also has produced a second spot for the secession drive, but the San Fernando Valley Independence Committee, which is running the campaign, has not yet decided whether to use it or one of its own. The Independence Committee has budgeted $150,000 for one or both spots.

The first ad shows a Valley resident petitioning an indifferent city council with complaints.

At the end of the ad, the Valley resident asks, "Is anybody listening?" The camera cuts to one council member's notes, which turn out to be a crossword puzzle with the word "Disenfranchise" highlighted.

Biggs estimated that the first commercial will reach about 200,000 homes, but said it may not be shown outside the Valley. He said there are no plans yet to buy time on more-expensive broadcast TV stations.

The anti-secession campaign led by Mayor James K. Hahn is preparing to launch a multimillion-dollar ad blitz that will include broadcast TV.

Meanwhile, a coalition of Valley business leaders said a new city would bring in more investment, increase sales-tax revenues and cut business taxes in half.

"There is a lack of interest on the part of the city of Los Angeles in attracting businesses," said Bill Allen, former president of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley.

Blighted or abandoned areas should be used for industrial parks, Allen said, with more police patrols to show potential tenants that their employees would be safe.

"We want to be able to announce that we're open for business again in the San Fernando Valley," said Bill Powers, chairman of the San Fernando Valley United Chambers of Commerce. Powers and others in the group expressed confidence that they would have enough influence with a Valley city to see the tax-cutting, business-promoting policies carried out.

"We've been working on this for six years," said Jeff Brain, president of the secession group Valley VOTE. "Do you really think that in our own city we wouldn't have any influence?"

Also Monday, Hollywood secessionists announced several endorsements that they said would help build support for their cause among African Americans in South Los Angeles.

The endorsements came from Daude Sherrills of Watts, who helped negotiate a truce between members of the Bloods and Crips gangs in 1992; Eunice Carr, executive director of the Black American Political Assn. of California, a group that claims 60,000 members; the Rev. Lee P. James, a chaplain for the association; and the Rev. Waymon Baker of New Pleasant Hill Church.

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Times staff writers Patrick McGreevy and Nita Lelyveld contributed to this report.

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