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SIDES PRESENT DUELING VISIONS OF SECESSION.

Byline: Harrison Sheppard Staff Writer

NORTHRIDGE - Opponents of San Fernando Valley cityhood attacked the plan at a public hearing Wednesday, questioning whether it would lead to higher water rates, decreased fire service and the disruption of commercial development.

But supporters said none of those things would happen and instead the Valley would have better government service at lower prices if it broke away from Los Angeles.

The hearing at California State University, Northridge, featured more critics than supporters at the speaker's podium, in contrast to past hearings in the Valley, in which supporters were the majority.

``The (fire) service levels in a separated city would have severe impacts on the citizens of the San Fernando Valley,'' said Andrew P. Fox, president of the Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Officers Association, a group representing the command staff.

Fox said Los Angeles, for example, predeploys dozens of fire engines to the Valley from downtown in times of high fire risks. That would not occur if the Valley became a separate city, he said.

But Henri Pellissier, the chairman with the Local Agency Formation Commission, noted that most cities have mutual aid pacts to provide fire protection to each other in times of emergencies.

That would allow the Valley to receive the same level of fire protection as it does currently, Pellissier said.

Others expressed fears that commercial development and street paving projects now under way in the San Fernando Valley now would be disrupted if the Valley were to break away from Los Angeles.

But again LAFCO officials said they would craft terms of a split that would protect projects already under way if the Valley breaks away.

The LAFCO officials are also tentatively planning to require the city of Los Angeles to provide water and power service to the Valley city at the same rates Los Angeles charges its own citizens.

Supporters of Valley cityhood said secession from Los Angeles would result in better representation and self-determination for the Valley, and it would eventually end the Valley subsidy to the rest of the city to the tune of about $65 million per year.

``The downtown powerbrokers look at the citizens as no more than cash cows to milk for their special projects,'' said Charles Brink, a member of the Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 28, 2002
Words:383
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