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Ron Kaye: Cities need to work together

May 08, 2011|By Ron Kaye

Have you ever wondered why the Metro subway ends at the opening to the San Fernando Valley, Burbank and Glendale, or why the Gold Line turns south in Pasadena and heads toward downtown Los Angeles?

Or why freeways through the valley region don’t connect in all directions at interchanges, or why there are only two lanes east and west at the heavily trafficked 101-134 freeway interchange?

I’ll tell you why: We don’t have the clout to get what our communities want and need from the downtown-centric L.A. power structure.

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That’s what led L.A. residents in the San Fernando Valley to try to form their own city, which would have been the nation’s sixth-largest, safest, richest and most integrated — a city that would have found a lot in common with the towns around it on issues of transportation, economic development and airport operations, among others.

Valley secession may have failed, but efforts to bring together the region to work for a fair share of public resources have never let up, finally leading a year ago to a joint powers agreement among the county and cities of Burbank, Glendale, Santa Clarita, San Fernando and L.A. to form the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments.

The council is now gearing up for action with the appointment last month of Robert Scott, a valley secession advocate and longtime leader of the Valley Economic Alliance, which for nearly 20 years has worked to promote the region’s economy.

“Working together, we can achieve some things that we haven’t been able to do before,” Scott said. “We have so much more in common with each other than with L.A. City Hall. We’ll have the clout of a bigger entity and the agility of the smaller cities to move quickly.”

Similar quasi-governmental agencies have been operating for years in most parts of the metropolitan area, obtaining grants to fund major projects and planning studies, as well as to provide lobbying pressure on regional transportation and other agencies.

Hard times have a way of making even government agencies open to change, especially when severe cost-cutting measures are needed to balance budgets.

Economists point to metropolitan areas like Chicago and Portland, Ore., as models of how to attract new industries and businesses by utilizing the resources of the entire region, instead of every community competing against one another to move jobs from one town to another without actually stimulating real growth.

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