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Boyer calling again for split of L.A. County

One of Santa Clarita’s founding fathers says area has become too large to be efficient

Posted: January 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Carl Boyer speaks at a Signal roundtable discussion on Dec. 10, 2012. Carl Boyer speaks at a Signal roundtable discussion on Dec. 10, 2012.
Carl Boyer speaks at a Signal roundtable discussion on Dec. 10, 2012.

Carl Boyer, one of Santa Clarita’s founding fathers and among its earliest mayors, is again launching a campaign to break up Los Angeles County.

To Boyer, who’s 75, the county is too large, too populous and too spread out for government agencies to operate efficiently. So he plans to ask the Santa Clarita City Council to support his drive to break up the county.

He hopes a petition from Santa Clarita and other cities in L.A. County will convince the five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to examine the matter.

Boyer said he will address members of the City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

This is not the first time Boyer has attempted to force action on the matter. He penned a column in The Signal in 2008 in support of downsizing the county. He also addressed the issue in his 2005 book, “Santa Clarita.”

Boyer said he is renewing the issue to get the debate back into the public realm. But he has no illusion that public consideration will equate to supervisors’ action.

“In all honesty, I don’t expect the Board of Supervisors to do a damn thing,” Boyer said in an interview last week.

Tony Bell, a spokesman for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said the Board of Supervisors does not have the power to create any new counties on its own.

The last county created in California was Imperial County in 1907.

Bell said he could not comment on whether the supervisor would support any efforts to break up the county. But Antonovich would allow local citizens to decide their own fates, he said.

“The supervisor has always and consistently believed in the citizens’ right to self-determination and local control,” Bell said.

Boyer is not the first person to float the idea of splitting up Los Angeles County.

In 1998, then-Assemblyman George Runner introduced and won passage of a bill that allowed portions of the county to conduct studies to examine the benefits and consequences of secession.

But the bill required participation of cities in the county, and that was not forthcoming.

Runner, now a member of the state Board of Equalization, said last week he continues to support the idea of breaking up the county.

“This is still a worthwhile issue,” Runner said. “And the problem has only gotten larger over the years.”

Los Angeles County is far and away the most populous county in the United States. Its 2010 population of 9.8 million was almost double that of the second most populous county — Illinois’ Cook County, which had a population of 5.1 million in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Los Angeles County also has a population greater than 42 states and more than half of all countries worldwide, according to census data.

That population is too high to be served effectively by just five elected officials, Boyer said.

“I know that plenty of county employees try to do a good job, but the circumstances make it impossible,” Boyer said.

Boyer also said smaller counties would allow voters to hold elected officials more responsible for their actions.

In addition to his 1998 bill, Runner said he also introduced legislation to increase the number of county supervisors.

“With me, it’s always been about accountability,” Runner said. “And when you have such large districts, how do you create accountability with so few representatives?”

While unmatched in population, Los Angeles County is not the largest county in California in terms of land area. San Bernardino, Inyo, Kern, Riverside, Siskiyou, Fresno and Tulare counties all cover a larger geographic area.

San Bernardino County is the largest county in the nation by land area, according to the Census Bureau.


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