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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Valley Edit

Hed — Valley Patriotism With federal officials turning down the latest subway funding revisions by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and with even Mayor Richard Riordan’s staff finding that the MTA’s $2.8 billion budget is unrealistic and flawed, one thing seems perfectly clear: A Valley rail line, at least one funded with public money, is absolutely, completely and irrevocably dead. The proposal, while barely ticking before these latest developments, had been kept alive by a small group of influential Valley activists not on the basis of need or economic viability, but mostly on the misguided proposition that if other parts of the city have a rail line, so must the Valley. Such a narrow-minded view of our city and of the Valley’s place within it cropped up last year during the secession debate, when political and civic leaders spent more time arguing the vague notion of “Valley rights” than the specific, and quite narrow, issue of the City Council’s authority in any potential separation. In our view, secession has been and continues to be an issue in search of a constituency. Little focus has been placed on the immense undertaking any secession effort would involve, and besides, the public opinion polls generally show that Valley residents want no part of such a movement. So why do these and other matters of Valley independence keep getting batted around? Some of it probably goes back to a long-held view that Valley taxpayers do not receive their fair share of city services (a perspective that, if ever correct, has certainly become outdated with the changing demographics and economics of the Valley floor). Some of it, too, involves simple geography. The Valley’s distance from City Hall invites tired claims that there’s a secret cadre of business and government interests that’s only interested in downtown development. To his credit, Mayor Riordan has done an admirable job of affirming the Valley’s importance both politically and economically but not enough, it seems, to assuage the one-sided views of the above-mentioned activists, who consider anything south of Mulholland Drive as enemy turf. To some extent, of course, these Valley patriots have a point. Both culturally and politically, the Valley has been mercilessly derided (to the point where the 818 area code has taken on a pejorative connotation). The truth, of course, is that the Valley has become a centerpiece of L.A. economic activity as well as a significant source of cultural and academic pursuits. Take a look at the area’s major growth industries entertainment and technology and see how many 818 area codes you run into. Such standing, however, doesn’t necessitate a push for independence nor, for that matter, does a hopeless rail line. This is a very big city, and the Valley has needs and an identity that are quite apart from those in downtown or Mid-Wilshire or East L.A. At the same time, this is a city that desperately needs to stop balkanizing itself for the sake of petty politics. It’s very obvious that portions of the Valley have horrendous traffic problems, but it would make more sense to explore private-sector alternatives, like a surface rail system along the Ventura (101) Freeway that Supervisor Mike Antonovich has been suggesting. We’re not sure that’s the ultimate answer, but it’s a far more instructive course than ranting about “Valley rights.”

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