Stories for March 2008

Monday, March 31

Ralphs Bests Vons in Woodland Hills Market Battle

James Hames reports on a flurry of transactions.

Harman Cuts Northridge Force

Harmon/Becker is shutting down its Northridge manufacturing operation.

Blu-ray Has Firms Seeing Green

Many local companies will benefit from the victory of BluRay.

City is Cracking Down on Illegal Street Vendors

The city is reviewing permits and ordinances for street vendors

It's Tough to Do the Right Thing

Martin Cooper encourages our city leaders to do what's right

Youbet Posts Net Loss, Receives Non-Compliance Notification

Online wagering firm Youbet.com wrapped up what its chief executive called a challenging year posting a net loss and with notification of non-compliance with its common stock.

Passion + Clout = Action

VICA Chairman Greg Lippe faces the SFVBJ editorial staff.

Snyder Ready to Begin Final Phase of NoHo Commons

Developer J.H. Snyder is moving forward with Commons Phase III

Small City Achieves Big Success Per Plan

Jason Schaff finds the City of San Fernando is very much changed

Candidates Speak Up About Business

Santa Clarita candidates quizzed on business issues.

City Waboo Links Business Sites to Social Networks

CityWaboo links its small business websites to social networking sites to enhance value

Encouraging Words

Valley Book & Bible is hanging on to their last store

Residential Construction is Down but Not Out in Santa Clarita

The real estate downturn's effect on Santa Clarita

Quashed EIR Raises Questions

Has the City set a dangerous precedent in halting the EIR for this controversial project?

Digital Union Receives $1.7 Million

Digital Union Inc. has received $1.7 million in funding from a group of investors, the company announced.

Manufacturers Told 'Take the Money and Stay'

Coverage of VICA's manufacturing event

IJM Execs Quiet While Creditors Await Payment

What happened to IJM Aviation?

The Curious Musical History of Adam Marsland

Mark Madler tells the curious tale of an independent music maker

AROUND THE VALLEYS

Produce Meets Prada at Mall Market

Retail Property Values Holding Steady

How the rough economy is affecting retail properties

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

VALLEY BIZ SEEN

A new reader-driven feature: photographs of Valley business people being feted, awarded, commended or just taking part in interesting regional events.

VALLEY STOCK WATCH

Stock activity for 50 selected greater San Fernando Valley-based public companies: Bi-Weekly Top Gainers, Losers; The Valley 50 Stock Index; 52-week Performance; Market Summary / Indexes

Times Sure Have Changed: 50 Years of Deliveries

The Business Journal's very own Valley Presbyterian baby covers the 50th Anniversary event

Growth in Special Events Provides Economic Boon

Large events are having a positive economic impact on the city

Old Town Looks New Again

A look at Old Town Newhall's revitalization

Friday, March 28

State to take up unlisted number fees

SACRAMENTO -- -- In California, where celebrities, billionaires and the rest of us prize a little privacy at home, the price of going unlisted is going up, big-time.

Vets face grim job prospects

Aboard the retired cruise ship Queen Mary -- a World War II veteran redeployed as a tourist attraction -- former members of the armed services Thursday got an extra ration of employment help.

Leaner Interlink Posts Net Loss in Q4

Scaling back its business to just eTransactions and specialty components segments resulted in a net loss in the fourth quarter for Interlink Electronics Inc.

State deals blow to zero-emission vehicle supporters

California's Air Resources Board voted Thursday to slash by 70% the number of emission-free vehicles that carmakers must sell in the state in coming years, a significant blow for environmentalists and transportation activists.

Glendale Adventist Certified As Primary Stroke Center

Glendale Adventist Medical Center has earned the Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission for Advanced Primary Stroke Centers.

Thursday, March 27

U.S. airline fleets showing their age

The nation's aging airline fleets, already struggling with high fuel costs and growing passenger demand, delivered a further blow to travelers today as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines canceled more flights while planes were reinspected for complianc

State air board may slash zero-emission mandate

Hoping to buy an emission-free vehicle in the next few years? Finding one might soon get much tougher.

More layoffs at Palmdale City Hall

A second round of staff cuts eliminated 39 employees at Palmdale City Hall.

The Times apologizes over article on rapper

A Los Angeles Times story about a brutal 1994 attack on rap superstar Tupac Shakur was partially based on documents that appear to have been fabricated, the reporter and editor responsible for the story said Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 26

Precision Starts Green Campaign

Precision Dynamics Corp. will review its business operations to find ways to minimize environmental impact, the company announced.

Motorola plans to split company

CHICAGO -- Motorola Inc. announced plans to separate its struggling handset business from other operations, , forming two separate publicly traded companies after months of agitation from frustrated investors.

5 companies land on CalPERS' worst-run list

The California Public Employees' Retirement System singled out restaurant operator Cheesecake Factory Inc., home builder Standard-Pacific Corp. and three other companies for what the pension fund described as poor financial performance and corporate gover

American Soil Technologies Partners with Green Hippo

American Soil Technologies Inc. of Pacoima has entered into a joint venture agreement with Green Hippo Natural Organic Products Inc. of Northridge.

Ford sells Jaguar, Land Rover to India's Tata Motors

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is selling its storied Jaguar and Land Rover brands to India's Tata Motors Ltd. in a deal that will net the U.S. automaker $1.7 billion -- roughly a third of the price it paid for the two luxury brands.

Tuesday, March 25

Consumer confidence drops to 5-year low in March

NEW YORK -- Consumer confidence sank to a five-year low in March as tight credit markets, rising prices and worsening job prospects made many worry that the economy has fallen into recession.

Image Forms International TV Sales Division

Image Entertainment Inc. has formed a worldwide television sales division to distribute its programming through broadcast, cable/satellite and video-on-demand platforms.

DIC Production Music Available Online

Royalty free production music is now available to film and television producers through a new business unit of DIC Entertainment.

Pharmacist Fasts to Protest Medi-Cal Cuts

Studio City-based pharmacist Ira Freeman, of Key Pharmacy, is in his 11th day of a 15 day fast to protest the Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed 10 percent Medi-Cal providers cuts, which he believes will negatively affect beneficiaries and the pharmacies that

Another steep drop in housing prices reported

Home prices across the nation continued to fall at a record pace in January, and Southern California showed some of the steepest declines, according to a major indicator released March 25.

Movie shoots downtown mean aggravation for residents

Ginny-Marie Case can't forget the night she was jarred from her sleep by massive explosions set off by crews filming last summer's blockbuster movie "Transformers."

Monday, March 24

MacDonald Leaving As Head of FilmLA

Steve MacDonald, who stepped in after an embezzlement scandal to head the not for profit on-location permitting agency for the city and county of Los Angeles, will leave as president next month.

Fire Damages Condo Construction

The Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating the cause of a fire that damaged a five-story condominium building in Woodland Hills.

Theater Project Groundbreaking in NoHo

The third and final phase of the NoHo Commons project from developer J.H. Snyder Co. was ceremonially launched today, breaking ground for the coming Laemmle movie theater, a Class A office complex and the refurbished Phil's Diner.

Thursday, March 20

Disney Eyes Return to Retail Chain

The Walt Disney Co. is looking to buy a part ownership stake of the Disney Store chain in North America.

Jobless claims rise by larger-than-expected amount

WASHINGTON -- The number of newly laid off workers filing for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in nearly two months. It was another sign that the weak economy is having an adverse impact on the labor market.

Borders may be sold

NEW YORK -- Borders, the nation's second-largest bookstore chain, said today that it is considering selling all or part of the company, amid worsening conditions in the bookselling business.

Wednesday, March 19

Thumbs Down For Las Lomas Project

The Los Angeles City Council voted down a review of the massive Las Lomas residential project proposed for north Los Angeles County.

Monday, March 17

Saving the Medical Center is Goal of Legislative Action

New legislation designed to save Encino/Tarzana hospital.

Sub-prime mortgage watchdogs kept on leash

They could see the meltdown coming. Freelance financial watchdogs who examined the paperwork on sub-prime home loans being sold to Wall Street had an inside view of the boom in easy-money lending this decade. The reviewers say they raised plenty of red

A Good Sense of Direction

Q & A; with Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems GM

Kaiser Readies New Panorama City Hospital

Interview with Kaiser Panorama City's executive director.

High School Students Targeted by Aviation/Aerospace

High School Students Targeted by Aviation/Aerospace

Cooking Up a Recession Recipe

Rickey Gelb has a proposal to fix the City budget crisis

Feds Looking at Countrywide

The FBI, Congress and others are investigating Countrywide

HBO entertainment chief to exit post

NEW YORK -- HBO said Sunday that Entertainment President Carolyn Strauss was leaving her post at the premium cable channel, where she helped develop programs such as "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under" and foster an environment that attracted top-notch cr

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Whatever Happened to 'Buy American?'

Technology, Customization are Keys to Firms' Longevity

Looking at long-time Valley manufacturers

Workforce Development On Agenda of Two Trade Events

Westec, VICA Manufacturing & Distribution Forum

Space Science Center Latest Coup for Tower

Local company building shuttle memorial.

Low Tech, High Touch

Continental Art Supplies uses high-touch approach

Memorabilia Auctions Put A Price Tag on Nostalgia

Mark Madler reports on aHollywood memorabilia firm.

QPC Narrows Net Loss

The higher prices of its second and third generation laser products contributed to QPC Lasers Inc. narrowing its net loss for the fourth quarter when compared with the previous year.

Telemundo, Televisa seen in programming deal

NBC Universal's Spanish-language Telemundo television network and Mexican broadcasting powerhouse Grupo Televisa are expected to announce a programming sharing agreement today that could lead to a closer alliance between the two.

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

Biotech Boosters are Seizing the Moment

Jason Schaff writes about attempts to grow 101 Biotech Corridor.

LAUSD Hotel Resolution Angers Business Leaders

LAUSD Hotel Resolution Angers Business Leaders

Santa Clarita Watchdog Accuses Mayor of Financial Impropriety

Santa Clarita Watchdog Accuses Mayor of Financial Impropriety

Shoring Up Economic Development

A new business retention specialist is on the case.

Sharp Revenue Drop Forces City of Palmdale Staff Cuts

City layoffs may not be over yet.

Turnaround Artists

E/M Coating Services is competitive with lean manufacturing

LACMA Palm Garden More than Landscape

ValleyCrest updates LACMA grounds.

AROUND THE VALLEYS

Method Fest celebrates its 10th year

Lockheed Pays Largest Race Discrimination Settlement

Richard Rosenberg reports on landmark EEOC Ruling

VALLEY BIZ SEEN

A new reader-driven feature: photographs of Valley business people being feted, awarded, commended or just taking part in interesting regional events.

State Budget Crisis: Education Braces for Worst

School officials nervous about budget cuts

Transactions Fit, Work Out for Valley-based Brokers

James Hames reports on a flurry of transactions.

Friday, March 14

Superior Restructuring Resulting in Gains

A restructuring in operations helped Superior Industries International Inc. to post a positive net income for both the fourth quarter and the full fiscal year.

Olympic Medalist to Tout Power Bar

Olympic gold medalist and 20-time World Champion swimmer Michael Phelps will be featured in a national campaign for PowerBar, according to the company.

Southland home prices tumble fast

Southern California home prices are now 19% below their peak last year, and the surprisingly rapid decline is leading experts to predict that the housing slump will be worse than initially thought -- surpassing the severe downturn of the 1990s.

Acquittals in Ritter Lawsuit Trial

A civil jury acquitted two doctors in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of actor John Ritter.

FDA panel recommends limits on Amgen anemia drugs

In mixed news for biotech giant Amgen Inc., a Food and Drug Administration panel recommended Thursday that doctors continue to prescribe the company's lucrative anemia drugs for patients with cancer. But the panel suggested scaling back which patients sho

State Legislature's trusted budget analyst is stepping down

SACRAMENTO -- -- In a Capitol increasingly riven by partisan bickering and bitterness, one of the few steady hands lawmakers have counted on to rise above it all and bring clarity to policy issues is Elizabeth Hill.

Thursday, March 13

Santa Clarita Dedicates Open Space

The City of Santa Clarita had an open space dedication March 12 at Golden Valley Ranch to celebrate acquiring more than 900 acres of open space, the largest amount the City has ever acquired.

Bank: Housing has yet to hit low

Wachovia Corp., which continues to defend its $24 billion purchase of a California mortgage lender, said the downturn in the nation's housing market is nowhere near over.

AOL isn't a must buy for Disney, CEO says

NEW YORK - Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger detailed several ways that Disney hopes to benefit from high-tech - but one of them isn't buying AOL, which many expect to be for sale soon.

Charter To Sell Viewing Habit Data

Charter Communications Inc. will sell information about the viewing preferences of its cable TV customers, the company announced.

Wednesday, March 12

Final "Potter" Installment To Be Two Films

The last book in the Harry Potter series will be made into two movies, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Arrest In Bomb Threat To Van Nuys Airport

A threat to blow up the Van Nuys Airport led federal authorities to arrest a Massachusetts man.

Kimball Named CLU President

Chris Kimball has been named the seventh president of California Lutheran University.

Recession Has Started: CFOs

A survey of chief financial officers found that a majority believe the American economy is in a recession that will last into 2009.

Tuesday, March 11

Hollywood studios agree to $700-million deal paving way for 3-D screens

Hollywood took a big step today toward offering more movies in 3-D, announcing deals to convert as many as 10,000 more theater screens for the digital technology needed to accommodate the resurgent, eye-popping format.

Investors Pledge $26 Million for Xirrus

Wi-Fi network provider Xirrus Inc. received $26 million in financing, the company has announced.

UCLA experts don't buy recession

Brushing aside conventional wisdom, UCLA economists say California and the nation will survive the housing slump and job losses without plunging into recession -- although it will still be miserable for many Americans.

More Theaters Go Digital With Technicolor

Technicolor Digital Cinema signed on two more theaters at which it will install its digital cinema projection systems.

MannKind vows to press on with insulin inhaler

MannKind Corp. pledged Monday to continue developing its insulin inhaler system even though its stock fell after Eli Lilly & Co. said last week that it had given up on a similar diabetes treatment.

Monday, March 10

Countrywide said probed for fraud

Federal authorities are investigating Countrywide Financial Corp. for securities fraud, according to newspaper reports.

FBI Opens Countrywide Probe

The FBI has started a criminal investigation into Calabasas-based Countrywide, the nation's largest mortgage lender, reported the Wall Street Journal on Saturday. By Sunday, other news outlets had independently confirmed an inquiry into whether Countrywid

Court Cuts Dole Damages in Pesticide Case

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge reduced by more than $3 million a verdict against Dole Food Co. Inc. in a case stemming from the use of pesticides on banana farms in Nicaragua.

Friday, March 7

ArcLight Goes Digital With Technicolor

Technicolor will install digital cinema equipment at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, the company announced.

U.S. HealthWorks Acquires Medical Emergency Treatment

U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group has acquired New Jersey-based Medical Emergency Treatment (MET).

More U.S. jobs losses underscore recession fears

WASHINGTON -- The government reported today that the U.S. economy lost jobs in February for a second month running and at its fastest pace in five years, making it all the more certain that the nation is slipping into a recession.

CHAD Closes $1.8 Million Sale

CHAD Therapeutics Inc. has closed the sale of the assets related to its transfilling oxygen business for $1.8 million.

Valley Clothes Maker Teams with Lavigne

Van Nuys-based clothing manufacturer Jerry Leigh announced it has partnered with rock star Avril Lavigne to launch a new fashion line, Abbey Dawn.

With Iger charting the way, Disney sails on smooth seas

Few people would mistake Albuquerque as the happiest place on Earth.

Thursday, March 6

Loan Extension for Power-One

Power-One Inc. extended by two years its $50 million loan from PWER Bridge LLC, the company announced.

Countrywide Subpoenaed by Illinois AG

Units of Countrywide Financial Corp of Calabasas were subpoenaed today in Illinois along with Wells Fargo & Co in an investigation by that state's attorney general into lending practices.

Amgen Licenses Cancer Fighter

Amgen has obtained an exclusive license to develop and commercialize a cancer-fighting antibody generated by Tokyo-based company Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co. Ltd.

U.S. Box Office Hits Record $9.6 Billion

The U.S. movie box office took in $9.6 billion in 2007, according to numbers released by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Credit Extension for Restaurant Chain

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. has secured an extension to its revolving credit facility for $100 million.

Wednesday, March 5

Busway Extension Public Hearings

Two public meetings will take place this month for public comment on the draft environmental impact report for a proposed extension of the Orange Line bus route.

West Coast ports have sinking feeling

At Southern California's twin ports, there is a growing feeling that the economic tide has begun to turn.

Hallmark Channel Remains On DIRECTV

DIRECTV will continue carrying the Hallmark Channel following the signing of a multi-year distribution agreement with Crown Media Holdings Inc.

Boeing questions loss on bid

WASHINGTON -- Boeing Co. demanded immediate answers Tuesday on why it lost a $35-billion contract for refueling tankers to Northrop Grumman Corp. and its European partner EADS, as Boeing backers in Congress threatened to hold up funding for the deal.

Los Angeles labor ordinance voided

Superior Court judge has struck down a 2005 law passed by the Los Angeles City Council that barred large supermarkets from taking over a store and immediately firing all its workers, an industry group said Tuesday.

Network Lays Off 25

The CW let 25 staffers go as a result of declining ratings and the work stoppage due to the writers strike.

NASA Contract For Teledyne Subsidiary

A subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Inc. was awarded a $7.5 million order for engineering services to the Marshall Space Flight Center Test Laboratory.

Tuesday, March 4

Semtech Buying Back Stock

The Semtech Corp. board of directors approved a $50 million stock buyback program, the company has announced.

Vitesse Forecasts Audit Completion in 2Q

An audit to determine the impact of backdating of stock options at Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. won't be completed until the second quarter, the company announced.

Salem Profits Drop in Q4

The sale of radio stations and discontinuation of a magazine contributed to Salem Communications Inc. posting a lower fourth quarter net profit when compared with the previous year.

Monday, March 3

Game Royalty Case Can Move Forward

Settling a royalty dispute between video game publisher THQ Inc. and JAKKS Pacific can move forward following a state appellate court ruling challenging appointment of an arbitrator in the case.

NoHo Tower Project Stalled, CRA to Review Status

JSM's 14-story mixed-use tower in NoHo sits empty, still; and a roundup of transactions

Attorneys Adjust Areas of Practice to Serve Clients

New practice areas have developed over the past few years at Valley firms.

HEALTHY SYNERGY

Reporter Nadra Kareem interviews Natrol CEO, Wayne M. Bos after the company's recent merger.

Virgin America provokes fare wars at LAX

For years, JetBlue Airways Corp. turned up its nose at flying out of Los Angeles International Airport, saying that LAX was too big, too crowded and, well, that it just preferred to operate out of smaller hubs.

DTS Audio Systems Heading to PCs

DTS Inc. has partnered with a motherboard manufacturer to include its audio systems in personal computers.

East Valley Beats Vegas for Small Textile Company

Drapes 4 Show picked the East Valley rather than Las Vegas.

Everyday is Mother's Day for Delivery Service Clients

A gourmet healthy food service targets new mothers.

For The Record

Deposition service firm Atkinson-Baker in Glendale

VALLEY STOCK WATCH

Stock activity for 50 selected greater San Fernando Valley-based public companies: Bi-Weekly Top Gainers, Losers; The Valley 50 Stock Index; 52-week Performance; Market Summary / Indexes

Medical Micro Makes Its Move, to Rural Washington

Medical Micro Machining Inc. moved from Simi Valley to Washington State thanks to tax exemptions offered by a rural area.

Legal Briefs

Recent happenings in the legal arena

CSUN Family Business Center Going on Hiatus

The CSUN Family Business Center is on hiatus.

Southern California Super Lawyers

A listing of the top 5 percent of attorneys in the Valley region

Eagle Rock teacher creates insect monitor job to treat creatures respectfully

When Eagle Rock teacher Melodie Conrad saw a student stomp on a bug several years ago, she knew she had to do something.

Lawyers Put Web, Wireless Technology Into Practice

Some area law firms are making the leap into technology appliactions.

Neighborhood Councils Fight Financial Disclosure

The City Council has voted to support the creation of a Neighborhood Council File Index which gives the councils a little more power. This signals, however, that the councils aren't going away.

Community Breakfast Was Hot Ticket

Community Breakfast Was Hot Ticket. Encino Teachers to be Honored

VALLEY BIZ SEEN

A new reader-driven feature: photographs of Valley business people being feted, awarded, commended or just taking part in interesting regional events.

Schools operate in crisis mode

Rialto Unified teacher Joscelin Thomas knew that her school district was the first in the state to send employees notices that their jobs were in danger. She knew she was particularly vulnerable as a new employee. She hoped she wouldn't get one.

Publications Adjust to Changing Times

MEDIA - The Daily News and other local papers make massive staff cuts.

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

Drought May be Over, But Water Crisis Still Very Real

Coverage of the water shortage economic impact conference.

Bellying Up to the Valley Bar Association

Bellying Up to the Valley Bar Association, by Sue Bendavid, president of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association

Walking, Wheeling and Other Ways of Contributing

Walking, Wheeling and Other Ways of Contributing

Should LAUSD Be Dismantled?

Should LAUSD Be Dismantled? Column by Gregory N. Lippe

IRIS Board Approves Stock Buyback

The Board of Directors of urinalysis product manufacturer IRIS International Inc. has authorized the company's repurchase of up to $15 million in shares of common stock over a yearlong period.

Fractional Aircraft Owners Ready to Fight New Tax

A new state law allows counties to take a property tax from fractional aircraft owners. This is burdensome for the operators and could result in an owner being taxed even if they don't use their plane in California.

COC Receives $200,000 Nurse Training Grant

College of the Canyons gets $200,000 from the state for a nurse training program.

AROUND THE VALLEYS

A look at the people, places and things that make our valleys tick.

Surfing in the Friendly Skies

Row 44 in Westlake Village puts satellite-based broadband connections into airplanes. It has already installed systems in Alaska Airlines and has signed a deal with Southwest Airlines.

Chamber Briefs: Honors, Installations and Events

Honors, Installations and Events