A little fiefdom, like Valkenvania.
February 13, 2006 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Vernon Shoo-Ins Shoo Outsiders. A little town in which 44,000 work, but only 93 live, fights against holding its first election in decades. [bugmenot for the LA Times]
posted by Sticherbeast (21 comments total)
Wow. Thanks for the link.
posted by JeremyT at 3:04 PM on February 13, 2006

I told you we could bring democracy to Iraq. Wait, Vernon is where?
posted by tiamat at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2006

Almost as odd, and certainly more depraved, than another infamous Vernon. Great link.
posted by billysumday at 3:18 PM on February 13, 2006

I read this in the Sunday Times and was amazed. I was born and grew up in LA and I know roughly where Vernon is, but this made me wonder. How many other towns or cities in America are like this. Are their lots of such fiefdoms in this country? I mean, how would we know if we didn't ask?
posted by donfactor at 3:19 PM on February 13, 2006

Really interesting article. It sounds like Vernon is a little mafia, and the Robles guy wanted to get his mafia in on the action.
posted by chaz at 3:19 PM on February 13, 2006

Wow. Talk about strange politics.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:34 PM on February 13, 2006

There's so much that's unclear about this. This, for instance, is a real head-scratcher:

"Whether Summers had the legal right to rent out the property remains in dispute. Malkenhorst said she lacked permission from the owner.

Abdolvahid Eskandarian of San Mateo County, listed as the building's owner, declined to comment.

Summers said she was representing an investor who had already reached an agreement to buy the property."

So Summers didn't own the property, but she rented the property as a representative of someone (unnamed) who had agreed to buy the property? And neither the owner nor the prospective owner are talking? And, apparently, the tenants signed a lease agreement with someone who had no legal right to the property. Weird.

And there's this:

"Moments before, a police official had slipped under their door a letter, ostensibly from the property owner, ordering the residents to leave the premises."

Ostensibly? Weird.

It seems not so much like a mafia; it's like an old-fashioned company town.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:36 PM on February 13, 2006

Wow, I didn't realize that 93 people actually lived in Vernon.

There's a Farmer John processing plant there that also features prominently in the book Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster. And just down the road is a Kal Kan manufacturing facility. The stench on certain days of the week is nothing short of incredible. I've had no less than two customers in Vernon and have always found the place to be quite surreal.
posted by Slothrup at 3:57 PM on February 13, 2006

Sounds like the little backwater town of Valkenvania in Nothing But Trouble.
posted by caddis at 4:08 PM on February 13, 2006

Vernon sounds a bit like infamouse New Rome, Ohio, minus the speed trap angle.
posted by clevershark at 4:20 PM on February 13, 2006

I've been to Vernon countless times; an old client is based there. It's unquestionably the worst place I've ever been, although the INSANE Farmer John's pig paradise mural that runs for like 8 citiblocks around the FJ Abbatoir is reason enough to swing by. The "exclusively industrial" motto is so very appropriate, driving through the city is like playing frogger with 18 wheelers backing out onto the streets from left & right.
posted by jonson at 4:22 PM on February 13, 2006

caddis - see the title tag?
posted by jonson at 4:31 PM on February 13, 2006

Here's that crazy mural... odd how on the outside it seems like a piggy wonderland, when the exact opposite lies just on the other side of the wall. Worst of all, on the very top floor there's a single pig looking out of a window with haunted, concentration camp eyes. He's seen the inside but is powerless to warn the other pigs.
posted by jonson at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

What mr_roboto said. What, the journalist couldn't find the "ostensible" letter the cops slipped under the door, and check against local property records? Too many questions left here.
posted by mediareport at 4:58 PM on February 13, 2006

Wow. I used to spend a ton of time in Vernon while I was attending college in Los Angeles. My first contact happened when UPS refused to leave a package and I was forced to drive to their fortress-like compound in the area to get it. The place really grabbed me with it's run down industrial feel, and afterwards I spent hours and hours walking about the area taking photographs. The place is truly a dead-zone at night, and there is nothing to do there but work and eat at a few of the desultory restaurants in the area (Although there is a fantastic coffee shop about two blocks west of the UPS fortress, I forget the name however). Some of the more interesting sites are the old switching buildings for the huge railway depot that spans the length of the city.
posted by Vaska at 5:23 PM on February 13, 2006

How is it called a City when there's less than 100 people there? Strange, the whole thing.
posted by raedyn at 5:45 PM on February 13, 2006

From what I can gather from past experience and from Wikipedia, in the US, a "city" is any area called a "city". There are, apparently, no qualifying requirements.
posted by Bugbread at 5:54 PM on February 13, 2006

This is the coolest thing I've ever read. I want a little fiefdom like Valkenvania.
posted by codswallop at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2006

Years and years ago, I learned that the US Census Bureau defined a city as having 10,000 people. The state of Montana required 5,000 to be a city. Vernon fails both tests.
posted by faceonmars at 12:06 AM on February 14, 2006

caddis - see the title tag?
posted by jonson at 7:31 PM EST on February 13 [!]

obviously not
posted by caddis at 6:59 AM on February 14, 2006

How is it called a City when there's less than 100 people there?

It's incorporated under a charter from the State of California? Apparently CA doesn't have a population requirement, or didn't when Vernon incorporated.

Even in states that do, that limit is often very low. The purpose of this is to allow a small community to incorporate, tax itself, and provide services if it wishes, instead of relying on county services.

In most states, the state constitution allows or does not prohibit the legislature from abolishing, merging, or otherwise doing stuff to a city or county. Whether this is true in CA I dunno; ISTR that New Rome OH was finally abolished.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:55 AM on February 14, 2006

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