SECESSION

44.5% of Los Angeles is attempting to break away – and for good reason. People feel they’re paying too much in taxes and getting too little in return. The residents of San Pedro, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley have had it. Downtown Los Angeles is a long way to drive, meetings are only held during working hours, and each council member represents a quarter million people. Other areas like Westchester are also on the brink of secession. The decision will mostly likely be made in one year. That means if Los Angeles were to stay together, there is only one year to convince nearly half of the population that they will be fairly and equitably represented.

The San Fernando Valley only joined Los Angeles because of developers who bought arid land and wanted to make a fortune from it. To obtain water rights, the Valley had to join with the City of Los Angeles. Once water rights were in place, the land became extraordinarily valuable. There is no mystery as to why the Valley wants to secede.

If Los Angeles cannot convince its residents that they will receive adequate representation then they should secede. However, what are the alternatives?

The recently passed City Charter mandates neighborhood councils. Each area of Los Angeles is currently forming their own councils with the help of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE). However, the charter only gives these councils advisory powers. When I am elected I will make sure these councils have real decision making power over planning, land use, development, architectural design, parking and all areas that are of concern to each community. I will author a charter amendment to give neighborhood councils real decision making power.
Meetings need to be held in the district not downtown Los Angeles.
Councils will audit the district to make sure they are getting their fair share of services in return for taxes.
Meetings regarding planning and development need to take place in the neighborhoods that are affected by their outcome. Working people must be able to attend and have their voices heard.
Child care should be available for parents who are unable to get sitters.
Some people can’t attend meetings because of school, work and family responsibilities. These people will be able to actively participate in meetings through email, phone and fax. Every voice will be heard and counted.
I will work to ensure that each neighborhood council has been inclusive. Renters, workers, business owners, economically disadvantaged, people who are traditionally left out of the power structure must be included in each council. My office will provide college interns to work as community organizers in order to assist neighborhood councils with outreach to a diverse group of people.

If this doesn’t work, Los Angeles will vote by referendum to split up into separate cities. It is only natural that people would be angry. In a city of over 3 million people, half of whom want out, and more than half of whom don’t even vote or can’t vote, we are in need of a big change. The time is now.