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L.A. Behind in Fight for Funds, Study Finds

September 17, 2002|SUE FOX and PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Los Angeles lags many smaller California cities in the competition for state and federal funds, according to a study underwritten by secession backers.

Breakup advocates seized on the results of the study, released Monday, as evidence that the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood would be more efficient if they split from Los Angeles. Secession opponents, however, denounced the study as biased.

Conducted by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, the study also concluded that Los Angeles' redevelopment efforts are "heavily focused" on downtown and that less money is spent per capita on policing the San Fernando Valley than the rest of the city.

The study found that more than half the cities in Los Angeles County earn more sales tax per capita than the city of Los Angeles does. "Other Los Angeles County cities have clearly created a more successful retail sales environment," the 231-page report said.

Richard Katz, a former state assemblyman now leading the Valley secession campaign, said that the study proved that a Valley city would do as well or better than a united Los Angeles. He said it also debunked arguments by Mayor James K. Hahn, who is leading the anti-secession drive, that the city's clout would diminish after a breakup. "The mayor has got to be hard-pressed to make the clout argument after this," Katz said. "It shows that the clout argument against secession is a figment of his imagination."

Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook declined to comment on specific findings, saying the mayor's office would like to review the study first. "Clearly the people who are financing it have an agenda and that is to break up the city," Middlebrook said.

The study was partly financed by the San Fernando Valley Civic Foundation, a pro-secession organization formed by Studio City attorney David Fleming and Valley car dealer Bert Boeckmann. Robert Scott, a member of the secession group Valley VOTE, was project coordinator of the study.

The study found that despite Los Angeles' population, it garners less state financing per capita than most other large California cities, including San Francisco, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego and San Jose. In Los Angeles County alone, the city ranked 38th out of 88 cities in 1998-99.

Per capita, Los Angeles ranked 8th in the county in attracting federal funds. It received much less than Santa Monica, Hawthorne and Long Beach.

That suggests that Los Angeles' clout does not match its size, according to study author Steven B. Frates, a senior fellow at the Rose Institute who is also a Times contributing columnist.

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