Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sam Yorty = Honorary Mayor?

Fun fact for the summer...

In March of 1978, the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau designated former Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty - long time Studio City resident - as Honorary Mayor of the San Fernando Valley. His first official function as Honorary Mayor was to introduce Howard Jarvis to talk to the group about a bill he had written called Prop 13.

Well, the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber no longer exists, and their is no longer an Honorary Mayor of the whole Valley. So, why did the former mayor act as honorary mayor of an area that was represented by Mayor Tom Bradley, who was regarded as one of the greatest leaders the City has ever seen? What was really happening in 1978?


Peter McFerrin said...

Bradley's only serious supporters in the Valley were the Jews who live in the areas south of the 101. Among the white Protestants who formed the majority of the Valley's population at that time, I suspect that there was a lot more love for Yorty than for a black mayor.

Mitch Glaser said...

Peter makes a good point about the racial politics of the era, but Valley leaders probably disliked Bradley for reasons beyond the obvious fact that the Valley was then a predominately white and conservative community and Bradley was a liberal black Mayor.

In 1978, Bradley was already focused on Downtown redevelopment and a rail transit system. Valley residents, especially those in the business community, percieved that Bradley was ignoring their concerns in favor of the folks south of the hill.

Proposition 13 was an attempt to balance the scales on the part of Jarvis and the Valleyites. Suburban folks thought their rapidly increasing property taxes were being funneled to services in the central city. Valley business leaders thought taxpayer-subsidized urbanredevelopment and public transit actually worked against their interests, and Proposition 13 was a way to cut off the Downtown interests.

It's amazing how little has changed. A majority of folks in the Valley are still skeptical of taxpayer-subsidized projects like L.A. Live, Grand Avenue, and the Wilshire subway, and still think the City ignores their concerns. Secession had traction in 1978 and still does today.

Of course, this is all speculation on my part, since I arrived in L.A. in 1997 and wasn't even alive in 1978!

Peter McFerrin said...

The attitude that the Valley is "subsidizing" the rest of Los Angeles starts to look pretty ridiculous when you go to places like Pacoima, Sun Valley, and Panorama City. Those are some of the most economically depressed areas in the county. About the only thing they provide to the city is (overcrowded) housing for nannies and busboys. Places like Winnetka, Reseda, Sunland-Tujunga, and a lot of Van Nuys, North Hills, and North Hollywood aren't exactly much more prosperous.