Measure F campaign bumper sticker (Canyon County formation), election of Nov. 2, 1976. Unused, 12x3 inches.
Santa Clarita Valley residents voted twice to break away from Los Angeles County — by a 55-45 percent margin in 1976 and 59-41 in 1978.
New county formation was made possible by a change in state law in 1974 that put secession on the ballot when enough signatures were gathered (25 percent within the affected area).
But it required the consent of the county being vacated, and voters across L.A. County outnumbered SCV voters 99-1.
"The proposal qualified for the November 2, 1976, ballot as Prop. F, and despite a door-to-door opposition campaign by L.A. County
firefighters, it managed to win a 55 percent majority in the proposed Canyon County. However, the measure only managed 32 percent approval
in L.A. County, thus killing the effort." In 1978, "Proposition K received 59
percent approval in the seceding area but was again resoundingly defeated 64 to 36 percent in Los Angeles County."
Six parts in California tried it seven times (SCV twice). All but one, a portion of Santa Barbara County, prevailed within their proposed areas but failed in their old counties before the
Legislature shut the door in 1978. Now, any new county required a minimum population of 5 percent of the old county.
The San Fernando Valley was large enough to try it in November 2001. Secessionists eked out a narrow victory (50.7 percent) within the San Fernando Valley but lost 67-33 countywide.
In their analysis of the San Fernando Valley effort, CSUN's Tom Hogen-Esch and Martin Saiz write:
The history of California's county secession movements reveals a remarkably
similar pattern. [I]n each case, secession supporters offered
essentially the same line of reasoning in support of their cause. Proponents
argued that the county was not responding to the unique needs of their
area, and that secession would result in better representation, more local
control over land use, and better services at lower tax rates. ... In the end,
secessionists' arguments over tax and service disparities, while successful
in getting the measure on the ballot and garnering a majority
within seceding areas, simultaneously alienated voters in remaining areas
who feared a loss of tax base.
In the decade after their unsuccessful breakaway effort, the Santa Clarita Valley's rebel leaders regrouped and formed a new city. It didn't require outsiders' approval.
Notes 1 & 2. Hogen-Esch, Tom, and Martin Saiz: "An Anatomy of Defeat:
Why San Fernando Valley Failed
to Secede From Los Angeles." Published in California Policy Issues, November 2001.
LW3105: 9600 dpi jpeg from original bumper sticker purchased 2014 by Leon Worden.