LOS ANGELES — A breakaway San Fernando Valley city would own nothing except streets and would have to buy parks, libraries and other assets from Los Angeles, according to a legal opinion for the agency overseeing possible secession.
County Counsel Lloyd W. Pellman’s opinion means that if City Hall refuses to give away assets in negotiations, a San Fernando Valley city would have to buy them at fair market value or pay Los Angeles to provide police and fire protection and other services.
If the Local Agency Formation Commission abides by the legal opinion, it would weaken the position of secessionists because taxes may have to be raised to pay for the assets unless a deal is worked out.
“We shouldn’t have to pay for assets that we already co-own,” said Richard Close, chairman of Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment. “It’s like in a marriage, if a judge divides up the assets but then tells one spouse they have to pay for their share of the assets. It’s inconsistent and we don’t believe it’s state law.”
The commission is trying to meet a series of deadlines to put the secession proposal on the November 2002 ballot. The legal opinion, issued Monday, may add to the commission’s burden if it is determined that city property in the valley must be appraised before it can create a compensation package for Los Angeles.