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LA’s hold on the Valley should be severed


Illustration by Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea

It is time that the San Fernando Valley secedes from the city of Los Angeles. This isn’t about making a statement against the Obama administration. This is about improving the San Fernando Valley. By decreasing the size of our city government to cover only the San Fernando Valley, we will be investing in the benefits of having a more efficient government.

Good government is an economic public good. Everyone benefits from government institutions that encourage trade and discourage violence even if they themselves do not participate in the running of government. Someone who spends their time going to city hall meetings and participating in grass roots democracy receives the same benefits from good government as someone who spent that time watching baseball games. Like any other public good, good government is under produced.

Why should someone spend all their time working to make a good government? The price of monitoring politicians and following local issues is costly. You may very well spend all your free time attempting to produce good government, but still fail. Given this incentive structure, it’s rational for most people to not participate in trying to make good government.

The influence of an individual or small group is increased as the size of government is decreased. This results in the average voter having a greater chance of influencing the outcome of an election. More importantly, a small government effectively decreases the cost of running a good government.

Secession would allow us to break apart the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in the hope that it would free up resources to decrease classroom size. We could even institute a voucher system and do away with centralized schooling altogether.

The chief benefit of secession for CSUN would be an improvement in primary schooling. LAUSD recently lowered graduation requirements in a bid to increase graduation rates. A significant portion of CSUN’s freshmen have to take remedial classes because they are simply behind in basic math and writing skills. A more independent community would allow LAUSD to be split up ushering in reform to the education system. If for no other reason, secession should be supported to encourage better grammar by college students.

Secession would allow us to break up the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) so that we can keep them more accountable and decrease response times.
Secession would improve public transportation by giving the San Fernando Valley a better bargaining position when it comes to planning the expansion of the subway system and bus routes. Consequently, regardless of their political ideology, everyone has something to benefit from by seceding from the city of L.A.

The San Fernando Valley has attempted secession several times before in its history. The last serious attempt was a decade ago in 2002 when Valley VOTE, a pro-secession group, pushed for it through referendum. The valley itself voted in favor, but the city as a whole voted against the proposal.

Why did the city vote against the proposal? It’s because the San Fernando Valley exists as a net tax payer, which means it pays more in taxes than it receives in city services. The average resident of the San Fernando Valley is wealthier than our counterparts elsewhere in the city and thus, should have some vague moral obligation to pay more in taxes. However, no one has a legitimate claim on our income. We didn’t steal our income. We earned them by working. We provided goods and services that others were willing to trade their money for. Therefore, we should be able to decide how our money is used. The moral claim is actually to our rightfully earned income.

If private individuals wish to donate money to the city, they are free to do so. No one however should be coerced or forced into giving false charity.

L.A. is the second largest city in the USA and has a certain prestige to it. Therefore, it could be worth the extra tax burden. The San Fernando Valley is hardly a provincial area though. As an independent city, we are the 5th largest city in the U.S., after Houston. But, we have established ourselves well in the popular mind and don’t need to piggybank on greater L.A. reputation. Anyone who wishes to share in the prestige of L.A. is more than welcome to migrate to the city center.

Burbank, San Fernando, Hidden Hills and Calabasas are already independent cities from Los Angeles. Chaos has not erupted there. For the most part, these are affluent areas. CSUN has a larger population than all of these cities with the exception of Burbank. If these smaller areas are capable of being independent then certainly the San Fernando Valley is as well.

Ideally, a future San Fernando Valley would consist of several small cities of around 20,000 or less people each. It will take a while before we manage to reach such a state of local governance. In the meantime, splitting the San Fernando Valley from L.A. city is a start.

Should San Fernando Valley secede from Los Angeles City?


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  1. Sia Feb 26, 2013

    The SFV is a ‘net’ tax payer because it is appropriate.  SFV dwellers use significant resources from LA. Everyone that lives in SFV but works in LA uses the roads and infrastructure in LA.  Same could be said about everyone in SFV that enjoys any activity in LA, they are using resources and need to pay for it.  Therefore, it is perfectly justifiable for SFV to be a net payer.

    1. Jon Soto Mar 1, 2013

      LA or as I like to call it, “the PotHole Republic,”  gets money from us and spends it on downtown. City Council makes the dumbest laws and unfriendly climate for business. The City rakes in the cash from the Valley and yet our roads are hazardous, emergency response is terrible, and the Valley gets none of the high ticket revenue attractions like they have over the hill. Where’s CSUN’s new stadium? Where’s the thousand or so police officers they promised? Why can”t we have fireworks like the good old days? Where’s our new hospital, school, etc.? Why can’t the the city cut the perks and fix our roads, freeways, etc.? Where’s the Valley’s new stadium? Themepark? Anything? Lost Angels City Clowncouncil screws us over while demanding our loyalty. LA City Council, LAUSD, etc. couldn’t run a neighborhood lemonade stand, oh I’m sorry those are illegal in LA. My dog could run this city better than any LA politician. We’re better off as our own city making, our own laws, and we could run it better than LA city could even hope to do. Other LA cities use stuff in LA, but have the common sense not to be run by LA City Council and they run their city better than LA runs itself with some exceptions. The Valley deserves better, even if, we must part ways with LA.

      1. perspixx Mar 4, 2013

        As an example, five years ago, Los Angeles attempted to bid for the 2016 Olympics, and their plan did not include any facilities in the San Fernando Valley.

  2. perspixx Feb 26, 2013

    Absolutely; I voted for secession over a decade ago. Most voters in the Valley voted for secession and I think it’s bullshit that the rest of the city was allowed to say, “No, you can’t leave. We need your money to pay for our broken city.” The Valley has the longest police response times in the city and various other problems that are a result of city leadership treating us like an ATM machine. In the end, I seceded from L.A. by moving out of it.

    1. Jon Soto Feb 26, 2013

      I voted for secession, too. LA screwed us over. Secession will rise again in the valley.

  3. Jon Soto Feb 25, 2013

    Amen, I couldn’t have said it better and I’ve been saying similar things for years.

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