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SECESSION FEVER SPREADS AROUND L.A.; OTHER AREAS TO LAUNCH PETITION DRIVES.

Byline: David R. Baker Daily News Staff Writer

Following the Valley's lead, activists in two other Los Angeles neighborhoods plan to launch secession petition drives of their own during the next week.

In Eagle Rock, a group of residents is set to begin circulating petitions Saturday morning during a street fair. Twenty-two miles away, activists in Wilmington and San Pedro may start collecting signatures the same day.

Other groups in West Los Angeles and elsewhere in the city stand poised to launch their own movements in the next three months, all citing similar complaints about an ineffectual Los Angeles city government and deteriorating city services.

``The signs of blight have been coming closer to Eagle Rock,'' said Pam Probst, president of her neighborhood's secession study group. ``We feel we can stop it here.''

The sudden rush for the exit comes as Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment nears the end of petition drive calling for an official study of San Fernando Valley secession. It is the presumed success of that drive that has spurred other groups to action.

The groups want to have the Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees the incorporation of cities, examine their proposals for independence at the same time it studies the Valley's. They also hope to have Los Angeles voters decide on secession - for all of the restive communities - at the same time.

In order to secede, each community must win the approval of both a majority of its own voters and a majority of voters citywide. If smaller communities like San Pedro and Eagle Rock don't all go together, organizers fear, they might never get out.

``We absolutely intend to be there on the ballot with the Valley,'' Probst said. ``It would be very difficult for a city of 28,000 to convince a city of 3 million to let it go.''

Valley VOTE, which plans to turn in its petitions to LAFCO next month, believes other drives could spur politicians to cough up the estimated $1 million needed to conduct a secession study.

``It'll be easier to get political support, because it won't just be the Valley anymore,'' said Valley VOTE leader Richard Close. ``All of a sudden, this will become a much larger issue.''

Mayor Richard Riordan on Tuesday repeated his opposition to any effort to break up the city, particularly in the Valley.

``Once the process is started, there isn't much we can do, but I will campaign against it at the appropriate time,'' Riordan said. ``What we at the city have to do is let the Valley and other parts of the city know they are getting their fair share.''

To succeed, each group needs the signatures of one-fourth of all registered voters in the affected area.

In its editorial pages, the Daily News has strongly endorsed Valley VOTE's drive for a public study of secession that would determine whether a breakup would be revenue-neutral to the remaining part of the city and whether the new city would be economically viable. The newspaper has also contributed $60,000 to the petition-gathering effort.

Probst's group, Independent Eagle Rock, will start gathering signatures Saturday morning at a street-fair booth near Eagle Rock and Colorado boulevards. The Wilmington-San Pedro secession group, Harbor Vote, may start Saturday or may wait until a local meeting of one of the city's Charter Reform Commissions on Wednesday, said board member Andrew Mardesich.

Daily News Staff Writer Rick Orlov contributed to this story.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 21, 1998
Words:574
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