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Avenue M splits the Antelope Valley into two nearly indistinguishable swaths of desert, a concrete ribbon that roughly marks the border between the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster. But for decades, some city officials have treated Avenue M as a battle line. For as long as anyone can remember, the two cities have gone to war over Wal-Marts, Costcos, car dealerships and, now, a power plant.
The squabbles have cost millions, launched lawsuits and, lately, tended toward the personal. Relations may have reached a low point last year when Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris held a Chuckie doll during an interview with a local television news channel, pretending it was Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. All of it baffles residents, business interests and many city employees.
The two cities are geographically isolated, demographically identical and economically similar. Some business leaders yearn for a merger.
Together, Palmdale and Lancaster would form the third-largest city in Los Angeles County and 12th-largest in California. How could they share a government?
Both mayors acknowledge the lack of civility, and both can locate the cause: across Avenue M, in the other city. Others theorize that it all started with a particularly potent high school rivalry.
Palmdale built an auto mall, and soon Lancaster built a competing one. Each city began offering businesses tax incentives to remain within its borders. Former Lancaster Mayor Henry Hearns, who served on the City Council for 18 years ending insaid he tried to bring the two cities together.
He helped organize t city council meetings to improve cooperation. Leaders organized a peace march on the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A group from each city met in the middle at Avenue M for a rally and speeches.
The two were never friends, but they worked together as members of the Antelope Valley Republican Assembly. It lasted two meals. Parris says Ledford runs Palmdale as a personal fiefdom and will say anything to achieve political objectives. Their grievances keep piling up.
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Afterward, Ledford publicly criticized Parris for overreacting. Floyd later reed. Parris, a trial attorney, said that by the time he decided in to help the Antelope Valley Chapter of the NAACP sue Palmdale for racially biased elections, his relationship with Ledford was a lost cause. The judge ruled against Palmdale, and the city is appealing.
Developer Scott Erlich, who has been involved in several large retail projects in Lancaster and Palmdale, said the drama is hurting both cities. Arnold A. But his take on local politics is somewhat personal. His father was former Lancaster Mayor Arnie Rodio, and he himself has run for mayor twice and lost.
They hand out wristbands stamped with smiley faces, and their YouTube channel has more than 50 videos that chronicle cherry-picking tours, sports victories, the Antelope Valley Fair and other community events. One of their first videos featured Palmdale City Manager David Childs, who bought wristbands for his staff.
He was a celebrated singer-songwriter with famous fans. Then he started posting about the vaccine. California doing much better with Delta variant than Florida, Texas.
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All Sections. About Us. B2B Publishing. Business Visionaries. Hot Property. Times Events. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. Penny Munz, left, walks with her daughter Stephanie in Palmdale; Lancaster is in the distance. The rift between the two towns has baffled residents, city employees and business interests.
Shoppers head into the Antelope Valley Mall in Palmdale, which opened in and draws many Lancaster residents. Shoppers inside the Antelope Valley Mall in Palmdale.
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An F-4 Phantom 11, on loan from the U. Air Force, is on display in Lancaster. No one seems to know for sure why the Cactus Curtain went up in the first place. People stroll through the well-attended farmers market in Lancaster, which draws many Palmdale residents. By Frank Shyong Columnist. Locals have given a name to the rivalry: the Cactus Curtain.
Frank Shyong. Follow Us twitter instagram facebook. Subscribers Are Reading. Music He was a celebrated singer-songwriter with famous fans.
California California doing much better with Delta variant than Florida, Texas. California L.