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Valley Candidate Floats Boroughs Plan

Secession: Richman's idea for increasing local control not supported by other mayoral hopefuls.

September 19, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

San Fernando Valley mayoral hopeful Keith Richman on Wednesday said the region should be divided into seven semi-independent boroughs if it splits from Los Angeles, an idea blasted by other secession candidates.

Richman, a Republican assemblyman from Northridge, said each borough would have an elected commission to make local planning and budgetary decisions.

"The goal is to empower and involve citizens in their local government and better provide services to the residents of the San Fernando Valley," Richman said.

Other contenders for Valley mayor, a job that will exist only if secession wins at the polls on Nov. 5, said Richman's plan would create more bureaucracy when one of the goals of the breakup campaign is to shrink government.

"It seems like it's just another layer of government bureaucracy," said candidate Mel Wilson. "That doesn't sound like something a Republican would support."

Wilson said he would give decision-making powers to neighborhood councils in the Valley.

Another candidate, Marc Strassman, said Richman's proposed boroughs, with populations of about 200,000 each, would be too big. He said the Valley eventually should be carved into even smaller cities, with populations of 50,000.

In July, the City Council rejected a borough plan for all of L.A. as an alternative to Valley and Hollywood secession.

Richman said his plan, which would require voter approval in an independent Valley, would combine the benefits of secession and boroughs.

He proposed that the boroughs include two Valley city council districts each. Communities would be kept together as much as possible. For instance, one borough would consist of Chatsworth, Northridge and Granada Hills, and another would take in Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills.

Two council members would sit on each borough panel, alongside five elected commissioners, Richman said. Appointed managers would oversee services at seven borough halls.

The borough commissions would be given a share of the budget to spend on local priorities, while the Valley mayor and council would handle citywide affairs.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski and county Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe objected Wednesday to a Hollywood secession mailer that included their photographs as members of the Local Agency Formation Commission, which approved the breakup measures for the ballot.

Miscikowski voted against secession as a member of LAFCO and said the mailer makes it appear that she supports a breakup.

"It is a dirty campaign tactic singularly designed to confuse and trick voters," Miscikowski said, asking for the mailer to be recalled. Yaroslavsky and Knabe are neutral on secession.

Gene La Pietra, president of the Hollywood secession group, said the mailer is not misleading because LAFCO did vote to schedule the election.

"We stand by it," he said.

Later Wednesday, a small group of secession supporters and opponents waved placards and shouted slogans outside a "Meet the Mayor" session in Hollywood. Mayor James K. Hahn met with residents at the Fire Department museum on Cahuenga Boulevard, hearing complaints about prostitution and drug dealing in the area.

The secessionists held signs saying "EIDC=Enron," a reference to the spending controversy surrounding the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. The quasi-public agency donated $10,000 to Hahn's anti-secession campaign.

Foes of a breakup countered with signs proclaiming "I Love Los Angeles."

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