The City of Angels faces a devilish dilemma. Should the 1.4 million residents of sprawling San Fernando Valley, (yes, the same Valley that spawned Valley girls) be allowed to secede from Los Angeles and become what readers in a whimsical poll recently dubbed, among other names, "Twenty-Nine Malls" or "Suburbank"?
At first, the L.A. City Council didn't take the matter too seriously either, and that la-de-da attitude has been part of the problem.
But some Valley residents mean business. A recent study suggests the area, if it seceded, could maintain itself financially, a result that gives impetus to the idea and strengthens the possibility that the question will be on the November ballot.
If passed, an urban seismic shift could occur. The nation's sixth-biggest city would be created. Los Angeles would drop from second to third in population, behind New York and Chicago, losing almost half its population and nearly a third of its land.
Is the Valley on the cutting edge of a smaller-government-is-beautiful trend? It's certainly more serious than, say, when Key West tried to secede from Florida. Or Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard from Massachusetts. Or northern California from its culturally different south.
The Valley, like many parts of big cities, finds big bureaucratic governments can too easily lose sight of citizen needs. Each city council member in Los Angeles represents a quarter-million residents. The City of Los Angeles may simply have gotten far too big, in land size and bureaucratic britches, for folks in the Valley (or in Hollywood, for that matter, which also wants to secede) who say they're bearing more than their fair share of the city-services burden.
Further, has the task of keeping in touch with average-citizen needs just become too daunting? As cities grow larger, often in an effort to increase their tax bases, they lose sight of community needs. Smaller cities generally may be better suited to sound financial management and more liveable.
Now, the very people who once fled the city to form the suburbs in this instance a burb with its own identity and mythology now want to become their own city again.
Can anyone doubt that's so-o-o, like, a wake-up call?