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L.A. Now Live: A prickly pair -- Lancaster and Palmdale's rivalry

September 30, 2013
  • Palmdale, in the foreground, with Lancaster in the distance.
Palmdale, in the foreground, with Lancaster in the distance. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

Join us at 9 a.m. when we talk with Times reporter Frank Shyong about the rivalry between Lancaster and Palmdale.

For decades, some city officials have treated Avenue M as a battle line. For as long as anyone can remember, the two cities have gone to war over Wal-Marts, Costcos, car dealerships and now, a power plant. The squabbles have cost millions, launched lawsuits and, lately, tended toward the personal.

Locals have given a name to the rivalry: the Cactus Curtain.

Relations may have reached a low point last year when Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris held a Chuckie doll during an interview with a local television news channel, pretending it was Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. For its part, Palmdale puts out a regular email newsletter that debunks what it calls Lancaster's absurd and unsubstantiated public statements.

All of it baffles residents, business interests and many city employees. The two cities are geographically isolated, demographically identical and economically similar. Some business leaders yearn for a merger. Together, Palmdale and Lancaster would form the third-largest city in Los Angeles County and 12th-largest in California.

But the mayors of Palmdale and Lancaster haven't been present in the same room for years. How could they share a government? 

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