Los Angeles, Nov. 6 (Reuters): Los Angeles voters yesterday resoundingly rejected ballot measures designed to slice America’s second-largest metropolis apart and make new cities out of flashy Hollywood and the middle-class San Fernando Valley.
The separate initiatives were championed by residents of the two districts who felt ignored by downtown politicians and no longer wanted to be tethered to the city’s urban core.
But opponents, led by Los Angeles mayor James Hahn, poured an estimated $7 million into keeping the city together, including a $2 million television campaign.
They feared losing the tourist draw of Hollywood and the destruction of the tax base provided by Valley residents. Credit-rating agencies had warned a secession could adversely affect the city’s ability to borrow.
In order to win, residents of both districts involved and of Los Angeles itself would have had to approve secession by 50 per cent or more. With 62 per cent of precincts reporting, residents in the Valley approved secession by 52 per cent to 48 per cent, but Los Angeles itself rejected it by a whopping percent 68 per cent to 32 per cent. In Hollywood, also with 62 per cent of precincts reporting, residents of the district rejected the idea by 70 per cent to 29 per cent, while citywide it lost 72 per cent to 27 per cent.
“I want to say that no matter how you voted, tomorrow is the first day of all the rest of our lives,” Hahn said. “And we are all going to work together to make this a great city.”
The ballot measures on the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood would have separated more than 1.5 million residents and $1.1 billion in tax revenues from Los Angeles, which currently has a population of about 3.7 million, second only to New York with a population of 8 million.
It also would transfer ownership of assets, including fire and police stations, libraries and, in the case of Hollywood, the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign, to the new cities.
Supporters of the secession movements said they would not give up the fight despite the Election Day loss.
Ron Kaye, managing editor of the Valley-based Los Angeles Daily News, said the success of a “grass-roots, little-people movement” against the city’s power elite showed the issue would not go away even if it lost yesterday.