South Mar Vista homeowners who are serious about breaking away from Los Angeles will have the opportunity to put faces on a cause Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the Mar Vista Community Council meeting.

The Argonaut first reported Aug. 16 that a group of disgruntled homeowners who belong to the South Mar Vista Neighborhood Association are upset with Los Angeles city officials over what they see as inattention to infrastructure needs in their community.

They believe they would receive better treatment in Culver City, a charter city east of Mar Vista.

The Argonaut contacted Culver City Manager John Nachbar last month to inquire if he was aware of any official discussions in his city with south Mar Vista or with Los Angeles regarding a possible annexation. Nachbar said he was unaware of any such official conversations.

To date the group of residents who are considering separating from Los Angeles has chosen to remain in the shadows, to the chagrin of some Mar Vista residents.

The community council is scheduled to hear a resolution where one of its committees is slated to ask the board not consider the annexation group’s complaints serious unless they are present at the Sept. 11 meeting.

At an Aug. 21 Mar Vista Community Council Planning and Land Use Committee meeting, the topic of secession was discussed and a vote among the audience was taken regarding who favored annexation. No one voted in favor of south Mar Vista leaving Los Angeles and 11 voted against the idea. It was there that one of the committee’s co-chairs, Michael Millman, proposed moving the resolution to the full council.

South Mar Vista Neighborhood Association President Steve Wallace attended the committee meeting and feels the vote does not represent the full extent of displeasure that homeowners in south Mar Vista feel towards the city government.

“Out of the people that voted, I think half were from the south side of Mar Vista. I think most voted with their hearts thinking they would lose a farmers market or a garden tour, instead of looking at the problems we are facing and no one willing to step up to the plate to deal with them,” Wallace explained in an email to The Argonaut. “There are serious issues with basic services supplied by the city of Los Angeles, as (has been) stated a number of times in the press lately.”

Wallace was referring to two highly popular Mar Vista attractions, the annual garden tour of residences in various stages of environmental sustainability and the farmers market, which has become an all-purpose community venue.

The farmers market, as well the Mar Vista Library and Los Angeles Fire Station 62 are on south Venice Boulevard, which is one of the borders where the homeowners who have discussed annexation have proposed a new boundary. They have suggested that the area south of Venice be absorbed by Culver City.

Ken Alpern, a former co-chair of the community council’s Planning and Land Use Committee, thinks the calls for secession are hollow for a variety of reasons, including that thus far there does not appear to be a great deal of public support for secession or annexation.

“My take on all this is talk is cheap and action is everything,” said Alpern, a former member of the community council.

Alpern feels that it is hard for homeowners in south Mar Vista to gain any traction with their northern and western neighbors if they do not recognize that some street repair work has been done in the community.

“You have to acknowledge what the city has done right in order to get credibility for what it hasn’t done,” he said.

According to city documents, since 2007, there have been 343 street repair operations in Mar Vista, including 89 resurfacing operations, totaling approximately 18 miles in distance.

In addition, the Department of Street Services has engaged in 254 slurry, or street sealing projects, equaling 21.44 miles, according to Street Services.

And recently five trash receptacles were placed on Venice Boulevard, a concern brought forth by south Mar Vista homeowner Christopher McKinnon.

Wallace disclosed the results of a poll taken by a local website on whether south Mar Vista should break away from Los Angeles. “The poll done by ‘Open Mar Vista’ had 43.76 percent say yes and 29.38 percent no. This was to all residents of Mar Vista I think, and subscribers to the website,” he said.

The Argonaut could not confirm the poll numbers at press time.

A motion by Councilman Bill Rosendahl Aug. 29 asks city Public Works officials to seek other options to repair the city’s sidewalks, one of the points of contention of the south Mar Vista residents as well as residents across Los Angeles.

Last month, the Public Works Committee received a report from the Bureau of Street Services exploring various options for sidewalk repair. The latter agency estimated that a comprehensive assessment of the city’s sidewalks would cost well over $10 million and would take three years.

“There has to be a much faster and much smarter way to catalog our crumbling and buckling sidewalks,” said Rosendahl, who represents Mar Vista and is the chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee. “Why not tap into the networks of thousands of community activists in the city?

“Why not use cutting-edge technology and Smartphone apps?” the councilman asked. “We have the energy and creativity to do this better and cheaper.”

Bill Koontz, the local council’s first vice president, noted that infrastructure deficiencies exist throughout the city, not solely in south Mar Vista.

“I could understand if other neighborhoods in Los Angeles were getting beautification projects or free curb repairs or any of the other items on their list, but that simply isn’t the case,” he noted. “I do agree that the city is doing a poor job of infrastructure investment but now is not the time to kick them when they are down, financially speaking.

“I think that infrastructure improvements concern all Angelenos,” Koontz continued. “However until the city can get its act together, the answer is not to pack up your marbles and go home, the answer is to roll up your sleeves, take advantage of the city’s many volunteer opportunities, coordinate with your local neighborhood council for community improvement grants and get involved with your local neighborhood or homeowners association for beautification parties.”

Wallace says he feels those who favor secession are waiting until Rosendahl, who was recently diagnosed with a tumor in his pelvic area, is well again to make themselves known publicly.

“Right now with a councilman who’s sick, they are treading water as they cannot push this through with Bill being out of his office,” he said. “It’s a big deal, and they want him to concentrate on getting well as I understand it.

“It’s by no means going away,” Wallace concluded.

Alpern offered those who want to explore secession some advice.

“If you’re going to lead the charge for change, please make sure that there’s an army of people behind you,” he recommended. ¤

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