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Monday, Mar 20, 2023

Council Gives Boost to Valley as a Region

Editor, Jason Schaff It’s really about a sense of place even though it is much more than that. I’m talking about the creation of the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments that reporter Jessica Selva writes about on this issue’s front page. I think all of us concerned about the economic development of our greater Valley area have wanted this or something like this for a long time. After several of our area cities approved creation of the entity, The L.A. County Board of Supervisors was the last to approve it on May 25 and sealed the deal. I’ll boil it down to a real basic level: The creation of the COG will allow our greater-Valley area to be a recognizable regional force when dealing with many issues, especially in the economic development arena. The COG includes the City of Los Angeles, City of Burbank, City of Glendale, City of San Fernando, City of Santa Clarita and County of Los Angeles and will be lead by existing elected officials from these jurisdictions. The San Fernando Valley and the northern part of the county, which these entities represent, have always been this northern suburb “thing” with no identity. Frankly, many people who live in other parts of the City of Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California don’t feel we really need an identity. We’re just a place where everybody lives. We all go to work in the other areas of Southern California that actually mean something and do something important economically and culturally. We don’t do anything important. Seriously – they believe that. They don’t understand that our area is a huge economic engine that is powered by some of the biggest industries Southern California has – like entertainment. Using our power We’ve got all this power but we’ve been ridiculed, abused and underestimated over time. The COG will help rectify this. It won’t be the savior that will trump all else, I don’t think, but it should really help. It should help by getting these governmental entities to work together in an official capacity as one body toward common goals. It will give this L.A. North area an official seat at the table. You can’t overlook us now because we’re coming as a unified force. Hopefully I’m not overestimating the creation of this entity. Acting Director Bob Scott of the Mulholland Institute/Valley Economic Alliance assures us that the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments won’t be just another level of bureaucracy that writes reports and takes no action. It will be a forum where the top officials in the county and our local cities can get together and come up with ways to solve some of our problems and come up with an effective strategy plan for the future. I certainly hope he’s right. And the Business Journal will keep tabs on the group. Here’s why I think the COG may have some teeth. It will oversee the planning of the San Fernando Valley subregion of the Southern California Association of Governments, an entity that is well-established. SCAG (forgive me for all this alphabet soup, COG-SCAG but it’s just easier and sounds kinda cool!) represents six counties and 189 cities. We’ll have Valley-specific input on so-called “macro” levels with this body. We won’t necessarily always be lumped in with the Westside of L.A. anymore. When you boil it all down to money, the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments is important, too. Joining together as one is expected to help the cities and communities pool their resources and secure more state and federal funding for regional projects. Out local officials think infrastructure and transportation are two areas COG should focus on. Getting funding for these things is crucial. Regional approach We’ll be looking for specifics from this group, not just rhetoric. We’ll want the group to do something, I will say again. The first project is an Interstate 5 Corridor economic development plan. The Interstate 5 Corridor links us all throughout the area. A plan such as this takes a regional approach. I think all of us have finally realized that a regional approach on many issues is absolutely essential in our north county area today. In my travels throughout our area, it just becomes more and more apparent that our valleys have the same economic concerns and needs and if we move together, it will be easier. The creation of the COG brings a business sense to regional planning. Alisa Belinkoff Katz, chief deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, perhaps said it best. She said the new entity will allow local businesses to address political leaders about their needs. She said that businesses tend to look at the Valley area as a whole. Yes, the valleys are connected. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125 or at editor@sfvbj.com.

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