Consolidation and Secession in Los Angeles: The Dialectics of Urban Governance Reform at the End of the Twentieth Century

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Globalization has forced large cities like Los Angeles into a reopening of the debate about scale, substance and boundaries of governance. While over time, Los Angeles has developed into a fragmented, private and horizontal city, there have also been historical countertendencies of regionalist, public and vertical urbanization trends. Consolidationism currently appears most visibly in the attempts to establish some form of regional cooperation and governance in Southern California. This paper interprets recent debates about the rewritten City Charter as part of the consolidationist tradition of the urban area and the ways in which, on the other hand, secessionism, a means of local politics having a long tradition in Los Angeles, is offered by its defenders as an potential solution to the problems of urban governance in the age of globalization and as an historical antipode of consolidationist tendencies in the area. This paper looks particularly at San Fernando Valley secessionism as a product of the tumultuous events of the early 1990s in Los Angeles, of changed legislation which makes it easier for parts of cities to secede, and of the consolidationist process of rewriting the City Charter of 1925.

Keywords: Los Angeles; San Fernando Valley; consolidationism; globalisation; secessionism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada.

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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