The State of California and the City of Los Angeles don’t get all the attention as focal points for social and fiscal policy battles, but they get more than their share. For any issue that is sure to be controversial and has an established constituency behind it, proponents want a favorable resolution in the places that 1) benefit the biggest possible proportion of the constituent base, and 2) have the highest profile in terms of political and media attention. For both cases, these are usually the largest jurisdictions.
Policy fights typically involve a small minority of the citizenry but take up a disproportionate share of energy that could otherwise be serving the greater good. Of course, a win by the special-interest group could turn out to be a “greater good” than perhaps anyone initially thought. Some controversial policies are like that. Regardless, a “win” by the government in which a policy measure is defeated might prove hollow if it hardens political opposition and gives politicians little to show for the victory – which will usually be the case. Some of these confrontations could be avoided, or minimized, if national policy derived through focused research, rational processes, etc. engaged such issues, directly or indirectly, and set the tone for the debate. This wouldn’t preclude establishing local policies unique to the jurisdiction, but would give local policy makers cover from relentless special interests.