LOS ANGELES: Mayor James Hahn publicly announced the city of Los Angeles' opposition to a controversial development project two weeks ago, highlighting the political maneuvering rampant in Los Angeles as the November vote to split the city into three separate entities nears.
This fall, Los Angeles voters will decide whether San Fernando Valley, the area of Los Angeles north of the Santa Monica Mountains, should break away and become its own city. Hollywood is also seeking to become a separate town. The secession plans of these areas are highly controversial, and have sparked numerous multimillion-dollar public affairs campaigns designed to sway voters.
Hahn, who is opposed to the secession plans, has started a citywide campaign to improve city services as well as address issues of concern to valley residents - such as the controversial Ahmanson Ranch Development, a proposed 10,000-person housing and commercial project backed by Washington Mutual Bank in nearby Ventura County. The development has been hotly contested by the nonprofit group Rally to Save Ahmanson Ranch, but until now, the city has stayed out of the fight. Now Hahn is threatening to sue the developers if the project moves forward.
Hahn is also sponsoring customer-service seminars for city employees, quick-fix pothole programs, and a 311 information line to facilitate the use of city services. He's also pushing a program to build 500 affordable housing units in Hollywood over the next three years.
While his efforts to address secessionist claims that LA is too big and bureaucratic to provide quality services may work in the long run, some doubt it will be enough to impact voters by the time of the November ballot.
But both sides are determined to wage expensive campaigns. Seccession groups recently sent out a letter asking individual supporters to contribute $1,000 over the next five months, while Hahn recently held a $1,000-per-plate dinner that netted $200,000.