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City examines county split

Several officials say expense would be too great

Posted: February 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

While several members of the Santa Clarita City Council expressed support for the idea of splitting up Los Angeles County during a special study session, they also expressed reservation with the city expending resources to lead the charge.

Members of the City Council met along with members of the city’s Arts, Parks, Recreation and Community Services and Planning commissions Tuesday night to discuss the process, as well as potential ramifications of pursuing the creation of a new county.

The session was, in part, at the request of former city Mayor Carl Boyer who asked the City Council on Jan. 22 to address the issue.

City Councilman TimBen Boydston said, while he does not support using city resources to push for the creation of a new county, he supports the idea.

“From a personal standpoint I think that, most of the time, a smaller government is more efficient than a larger government,” Boydston said.

Mayor Bob Kellar said he agrees Los Angeles County is too large, but does not think the city can invest the resources necessary to make the idea a reality.

“I just cannot see the city being the organization to champion this,” Kellar said. “I think that would prove detrimental.”

Several council and commission members did propose other ideas. Boydston mentioned the possibility of the City Council adopting a resolution supporting the idea of splitting the county, while Diane Trautman, a member of the city Planning Commission, said members of the City Council should ask other members of the League of California Cities to see if the idea has widespread support.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Santa Clarita Assistant City Manager Frank Oviedo said there are three primary stages to the process: a petition, the creation of a county formation review commission and finally a countywide vote.

Oviedo estimated that, under current state law, anywhere from 450,000 to 550,000 signatures would be needed for a petition on creating a new county to move forward.

These signatures would also need to be collected quickly, Oviedo said, as state law allows only six months for signature gathering after the first petition has been signed.

If a petition is successful, California’s governor would need to appoint a five-person county formation review committee to weigh several factors, among them the economic viability of the proposed county and how the proposed county would pay to buy property owned by the county they are splitting from.

Boydston remarked that this requirement seems like a “poison pill” meant to discourage the formation of new counties.

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