October 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   WILL SECESSION BE A PLUS OR MINUS FOR THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
L.A., Valley to Vote on Split
Valley volley: Should San Fernando secede? A ballot initiative in Los Angeles scheduled for Nov. 6 will ask voters whether the San Fernando Valley should secede from L.A. to form its own city. Meanwhile, those in the tourism and meetings industries are trying to discern whether such a move is the right one for their businesses.

Perhaps the number-one concern among area suppliers involves whether a break from L.A. and its convention and visitors bureau would boost the marketing dollars allocated to the valley.

Advocates for the change, like Bruce Ackerman, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, argue that the Los Angeles CVB ignores the valley in its promotions, even though the area contributes about 16 percent more than $10 million per year to L.A.’s total hotel occupancy tax, according to the alliance.

“They don’t do anything outside of promoting L.A. in general. That would be akin to New York City being in charge of New Jersey’s tourist promotion,” said Ackerman.

The 360-square-mile valley district has its own San Fernando Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau, but it receives no money from the city of L.A. Its initiatives and staff of one are funded by the alliance.

Area hoteliers are similarly displeased with the L.A. bureau yet hesitant to go it alone. Terry Alder, general manager of the Warner Center Marriott at Woodland Hills, would like to see L.A. ramp up its marketing efforts for the Valley before he supports secession.

Michael Collins, executive vice president of the L.A. bureau, said a split would only hurt the Valley. “You sell the product the way the consumer wants to buy it. The consumer wants L.A.,” he said.

Little would change immediately if the bill passes, said Ackerman. A grace period until July 1, 2003, would allow the new city to organize, form a city council and, hopefully, a new convention bureau.

• C.B.

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