LOS ANGELES: The fight to break Los Angeles into at least two smaller cities showed signs of trouble last week when Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli (GCPN) announced it was quitting the pro-secession campaign.
In November, Los Angeles voters will decide whether the San Fernando Valley, the area of Los Angeles north of the Santa Monica Mountains, should break away and form an independent city. The new valley city would be the sixth largest in the country, with 1.35 million residents. The neighborhood of Hollywood is also seeking to become a separate town.
Valley secessionist efforts, spearheaded by grassroots group Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment (Valley VOTE), hired GCPN earlier this year for a campaign that was expected to be worth between $2 million and $3 million.
However, fundraising efforts were more difficult than initially expected, and Valley VOTE is struggling to compete with well-funded efforts by anti-secession forces backed by Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn. Because of the shortfall, Valley VOTE was unable to pay GCPN's bills, according to company sources.
"We are in an underfunded campaign when compared to the vast resources available to City Hall," said Richard Katz, co-chair of the San Fernando Valley Independence Committee. "This allows us to conserve funds and focus resources on our voter contact plan."
While GCPN said it would consider project work for the campaign in the future, political experts say the lack of funds in the critical weeks before voters head to the polls could severely cripple the effort, which requires a majority of Los Angeles voters to approve the measure.