Stories for May 2009

Friday, May 29

Community activists want Halaco plant cleaned up

Superfund site lacks plan, funds Oxnard officials say

DreamWorks to boost movie output

The studio will make an additional film every two years, Jeffrey Katzenberg says. 'Shrek,' 'Madagascar' and 'Kung Fu Panda' sequels are in the works.

Alliance Recognizes Outstanding Achievements in Education

Ten students and educators from the San Fernando Valley were recognized during the 8th annual Steve Allen Excellence in Education Awards presented by the Valley Economic Alliance on May 27.

No Breaks in Chateau Case

Nearly a month since it happened, there still have been no breakthroughs in last month's mysterious burglary at the Chateau office building in Woodland Hills, leaving tenants who were victimized by the theft of computers scratching their heads.

Lockheed's laying off 50, having job fair

PALMDALE - Reacting to the normal ebb and flow of business, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is notifying at least 50 employees at its Palmdale site of possible layoffs.

Thursday, May 28

April new home sales rise 0.3 percent

WASHINGTON -- The government says new U.S. home sales were almost flat last month, indicating that the housing market's recovery will likely be a slow and gradual process.

Oil and gas prices hit new high for the year

COLUMBUS, Ohio , Oil and gasoline prices hit a new high for the year Wednesday despite expectations that OPEC will not cut production again, and more bad news arrived for the nation's automakers.

Wednesday, May 27

Amgen invests in heart muscle drug

Amgen Inc. exercised its option to obtain exclusive license to a potential drug from a South San Francisco company, sending both stocks upward in trading.

Health Net to Pay $1.95 million Settlement

Health Net of California agreed to pay about $1.95 million to settle claims relating to the rescission of patient's insurance policies.

April existing home sales rise by 2.9 percent

WASHINGTON -- Sales of previously occupied homes rose modestly from March to April as buyers who were brave enough to dive into the market took advantage of prices that were 15.4 percent below year-ago levels.

Council OKs rehabilitation by Irvine firm

LANCASTER - Voting unanimously and without discussion, the City Council, acting in its capacity as the Lancaster Redevelopment Agency, agreed Tuesday to pay the Irvine-based RBF Consulting firm $66,946 to plan the rehabilitation of the Tierra Bonita neigh

Hollywood's latest challenge: Getting foreign broadcasters to buy shows

At this year's annual TV bazaar known as L.A. Screenings, fewer media executives from abroad made the trip to L.A. to buy programming from U.S. studios -- and those that are here are spending less.

Power-One Selling Caribbean Facility

Power-One Inc. expects to save $14 million to $15 million when it closes its manufacturing facility in the Dominican Republic next year.

Tuesday, May 26

Vote on plumbing rules is delayed

Realtors opposed point-of-sale measure, saying they aren't trained to check plumbing.

City disbands volunteer boards

PALMDALE - With a unanimous vote, the City Council agreed May 6 to disband three volunteer advisory boards: the Aviation and Aerospace Commission, the Senior Citizens Advisory Commission and the Palmdale Neighborhood Partners.

New "Green" Academic Building to Break Ground at CLU

A new $8.5 million social and behavioral science building breaks ground next month on the California Lutheran University campus.

Consumer confidence soars in May

NEW YORK -- Consumer confidence extended its rebound in May, soaring to the highest level since last September as more shoppers are feeling the worst of the recession is behind them.

Local Bar Urges Respect for Judicial Independence After Prop. 8 Decision

The San Fernando Valley Bar Association reaffirmed a position supporting the independence of the judiciary in the wake of the California Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage as mandated by the passage of Proposition 8 las

Camarillo company aims to stop superbugs

The images flooded the media , masks covering faces, workers scrubbing walls and schools closing.

Tech Coast Angels Reaches $100 million Milestone

Tech Coast Angels, an angel investment network that provides start-up funding for companies in Southern California, announced its members have invested a total of $100 million since the group's inception in 1997.

Monday, May 25

CSUN Gives Awards to Alumni

CSUN Gives Awards to Alumni

Numbers Tell Story of an Economy Holding Its Own

Data gives snapshot of Santa Clarita Valley's current economy

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

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

City Deals Itself Lucky 21

Santa Clarita economic development committee's 21-point plan

The Right Business Entity Puts Limits on Liability

The Right Business Entity Puts Limits on Liability. Column by Ira Rosenblatt

Issue of Ex-Worker Suits Goes to High Court

Supreme Court case could open floodgates for more employment law suits

Getting Reaction

Icon Media's Direct Response Marketing Gives Call to Action for Consumers

Touting Job Creation, Groups Push Housing for Veterans

Touting job ceation, groups push housing for veterans

Local Schools Provide Continuous Supply of Talent

Profiles of area colleges and universities, distinguished alumni, and facts about school's business curriculums

Tough Tracking Federal Stimulus Money

Tracking federal stimulus money can be tough.

High Schools Provide Early Business Training Ground

High Schools Provide Early Business Training Ground

Change in Thinking Guides Entrepreneur in New Venture

Serial entrepreneur, Jim Gibson, finds satisfaction in providing emergency preparedness kits

Why Firms Need To Be Seen As Good Places to Work

The value of being a Best Place to Work

Valley's Class Acts

Valley high schools and colleges give business leaders a foundation for success

VALLEY NEWSMAKERS

New hires and appointments at Valley companies.

Economy Slowing New Development at Local Studios

Valley studio reps discuss development plans

LEED-ing the Way: Valley and L.A. Buildings Going Green

Buildings in Valley and L.A. go for LEED certification

Hail the American Song Book

Hail the American Song Book. Column by Martin M. Cooper

Learning From Santa Clarita Valley Neighbors

Learning From Santa Clarita Valley Neighbors. Column by Jason Schaff

Opinions Vary on Right Direction to Take the Area

Area business leaders form economic development committee.

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

Office Condo Project Takes Shape in Valley

Developers unveil office condo project in Warner Center.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / PACESETTER

About the List - Largest residential brokerage firms

Santa Clarita Valley Pools Together to Boost Local Economy

Santa Clarita Valley's business community continues to grow.

Companies Face Green Rules

Regional business leaders question the real cost of state law

VICA Expecting More Budget Cuts

VICA Expecting More Budget Cuts

Owner Finding a Replacement

Gottschalks in Palmdale to close on June 1.

Foundation for Changing Lives

David Hankin, CEO of Al Mann Foundation

Cutting-Edge Companies Rise to Top of Their Industries

Cutting-Edge Companies Rise to Top of Their Industries

AROUND THE VALLEYS

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

These Businesspeople Take Charge With Passion, Skill

Winners of the Business Leadership Awards

Thursday, May 21

New jobless claims drop

WASHINGTON -- The number of newly laid-off workers requesting unemployment insurance dropped slightly last week after spiking due to auto layoffs, while continuing jobless claims inched closer to 7 million.

VICA Expecting More Cuts in State Budget

With voters rejecting ballot measures meant to reduce the state budget deficit, lawmakers will now have to find other ways to deal with the growing financial crisis.

Hotel Tax Increase Passes in Palmdale

Residents in Palmdale approved an increase to the hotel occupancy tax that will add at least $1 million to city coffers.

The biggest summer thrills may be at amusement park ticket booths

With few new rides and attractions, Southern California theme parks will be offering bargain prices to lure recession-weary vacationers.

Solar Park Proposed for Lancaster

The City of Lancaster and DayStar Farms Inc. will develop a solar park to encourage research and development of solar-driven electricity production.

Energy efficiency emphasized at UC Santa Barbara summit

SANTA BARBARA , New strides are being made in energy-saving technologies, but future gains will depend on how consumers put those technologies to use in their lives.

Wednesday, May 20

SAG contract vote nears as leadership remains divided

Interim Executive Director David White will find his conflict-resolution skills tested as he campaigns for the actors pact in the face of opposition by union President Alan Rosenberg.

Home sales up, prices plummet in AV

PALMDALE - In what is becoming a recurring theme for the Antelope Valley's real estate market, sales are continuing to soar at triple-digit rates while average sales prices are dropping at double-digit rates.

County's median home price increases from March

First gain in a year is tempered by lingering down market

Utility closer to 'greener' site

Burbank Water and Power is slated to have new, more efficient facilities with more space by January.

Tuesday, May 19

Camarillo Airport a parking lot for surplus vehicles

The number of new BMW vehicles being stored at the Camarillo Airport has swelled to 580, according to Airport Manager Aaron Walsh.

Housing construction plunges to record low in April

Economists had expected a modest increase

F-16s land at Mojave Air, Space Port

MOJAVE - The newest denizens of the Mojave Air and Space Port are an impressive sight, even for an airport accustomed to a variety of flying machines.

Grant Thornton Finds Banks Pessimistic

A majority of bankers in the West anticipate an increase in loan delinquencies in 2009.

Car dealers leery about fee increase

Unlike surge in sales before April tax hike, buyers aren't trying to cash in early this time.

Monday, May 18

Broadcast networks may find it tougher to sell TV ad time for top dollar

Slumping ratings, the lousy economy and increased competition from cable networks will make it tougher for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to demand higher rates from buyers in this year's 'upfront' market.

Slashed prices move condos

Some units have become rentals, while others have had sale price drop by as much as 40%.

Entrepreneur of Year Finalists Announced

Six business people from the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Conejo valleys have been chosen as finalists for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Bob Hope Airport Proposes Transit Center

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority will study creating a $75 million regional transit center at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

Simi Valley concrete company now has high-tech optics in its pipeline

There may not be two businesses more different than concrete and camera lenses, but for the people behind both Simi Valley companies, it's about seizing opportunities.

Studies slated to look at effects of proposed facility

ANTELOPE ACRES - Environmental studies on a proposed 230-megawatt solar electricity facility will include looking into the project's potential impacts on the views from the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserves and Highway 138, on the potential for du

Friday, May 15

PWD rates soar despite protests

PALMDALE - Water costs shot up for customers of the Palmdale Water District on Thursday.

California United Bank announces Q1 2009 results

Encino-based California United Bank announced the unaudited results for the first quarter of 2009. Total assets grew to $412.6 million, a 41.1 percent increase over the first quarter of 2008 and an 8.8 percent increase over fourth quarter 2008.

Businesses Offered Ability to Pass Expense of Graffiti on to City

Businesses in the region may benefit from a new municipal ordinance designed to both fight graffiti and provide restitution to companies and individuals that have been stricken by vandals.

General Motors Eliminating Dealerships

General Motors Corp. will eliminate nearly 20 percent of its dealership in a cost-cutting move to stave off bankruptcy.

T.O. farmers market to return to original site

More than two years after moving to a "temporary" location, the Thousand Oaks farmers market is scheduled to return to its original site at The Oaks on June 4.

Boeing C-17 poised to survive political turbulence

Lawmakers are unlikely to heed Obama's wishes to cut funding for the military aircraft program for one key reason: the deal sustains jobs in 43 states.

Thursday, May 14

Chrysler Eliminating Three Valley Dealerships

Three Chrysler dealerships in the San Fernando Valley have been chosen to close, according to legal documents related to the car maker's bankruptcy case.

Wednesday, May 13

City Council subsidizes car dealership

LANCASTER - The City Council agreed to pay up to $2 million to guarantee the continued operation of the Lancaster Honda auto dealership for 30 years.

Tough '08 and Outlook for SoCal International Trade

Following a rough 2008, Southern California's international trade industry may be in for more challenges in 2009, according to the International Trade Trends & Impacts report prepared by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

Retail sales drop unexpectedly in April

WASHINGTON -- Retail sales fell for a second straight month in April, a disappointing performance that raised doubts about whether consumers were regaining their desire to shop. A rebound in consumer demand is a necessary ingredient for ending the recessi

Online Exclusive: Economy Slows New Development at Studios

The weak economy may have caused the price of construction to fall but don't look for a lot of new building to take place at the film and television studios.

Budget-cut talks begin

Councilmen bristle at suggestion to close a library one night a week to save money as a response to $7M shortfall.

Simi enacts moratorium on massage permits

Simi Valley started a 45-day moratorium on all massage establishments and massage therapist permits Tuesday, citing an increase in applications that use the businesses as a front for illegal sexual activities.

NovaStor Sells Backup Service

Data protection provider NovaStor has sold its offsite backup service business to its longtime partner Data Storage Corp.

Tuesday, May 12

Walker Zanger acquires Mexican tile manufacturer

Walker Zanger, a Sylmar-based stone and tile company, acquired Cer & #225;mica Antique in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. WZ Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Walker & Zanger Inc., now has majority ownership in the artisan tile manufacturer.

Monday, May 11

Time to Review Where Ad Dollars Go

A communications audit can make more efficient use of advertising dollars

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

Playhouse Cuts Eliminate National Acts from Schedule

Budget cuts bring local focus at Palmdale Playhouse.

Opportunity Rises for Angels as VC Investments Fall

Angel investors step in as venture capital drys up.

Keeping Companies in State Requires Addressing Four Factors

What California needs to do to keep companies from moving out of state

VALLEY NEWSMAKERS

New hires and appointments at Valley companies.

Investment Firm Bringing Its Trend Strategies to Valley

Aeon Fund serves clients with a trend-following strategy.

Local Accountants Dislike Rule on Distressed Assets

Local CPAs give thumbs down to new rules on how to value distressed assets

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Immigration claims

Fertile Ground or Saturation?

Farmers markets serve up fresh produce but some think the market is becoming saturated.

Palmdale Vote Will Decide on Bed Tax Hike

Palmdale goes to voters on increasing hotel tax by 3 percent.

Mr. Social

Dustin Luther, social networking consultant

Commercial Real Estate Brings Questions at Summit

Panelists at Economic Summit discuss foreclosure rates and filling office vacancies.

Blu-ray Helps DTS Income

A strong market for home entertainment programming in the Blu-ray format contributed to digital technology company DTS Inc. to finish in the black for the first quarter.

Projects in Chapter 7

Filing Cites Multi-Family Developments

CHAMBER BRIEFS

United Chambers holds conference on possible rewriting of the state constitution; Go-Green showcase by San Fernando Valley Regional Chamber.

VALLEY BIZ SEEN

Photographs of business-related events in the valleys, including parties, awards dinners, benefits and other celebrations.

Q1 Results Reflect Planned Improvements at Health Net

The first quarter of 2009 proved a very encouraging start for Health Net, Inc. who reported a net income of $22 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, compared with a loss of $35.7 million, for the same quarter last year.

Much of Valley Economy Is Put on Hold

No clear direction for business is the outlook from the Economic Alliance summit held on May 6.

Valley Company Putting a Face on Viral Marketing

Big Stage Entertainment technology creates facial avatars

Solar plant proposed for farmland site

LANCASTER - A 230-megawatt solar power facility has been proposed on 2,100 acres of fallow farmland 1?miles north of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

L.A. Council To Make Final Decision on Jet Phaseout

Airport commissioners recommend phasing out noisier jets at Van Nuys Airport.

AROUND THE VALLEYS

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

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

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

Should the California State Constitution Be Re-Written?

Should the California State Constitution Be Re-Written?

State's Political, Economic Future May Hinge on Turnout of May 19 Election

Political, economic future of the state may hinge on May 19 election. Column by Gregory N. Lippe

A Jurisdictional 'Hot Potato' Over Clean Neighborhoods

Confusion reigns over who is responsible for cleaning up the Orange Line busway.

Non-Profits and Business Should Work Together

How business and non profits can work together. Editorial column by Jason Schaff

Santa Clarita Plan Eyes More Spending

Santa Clarita Plan Eyes More Spending

City sets its eye on budget

Six study sessions in the next two weeks will focus on ways to make up for massive shortfall.

Taking Stimulus Money Requires Following Rules

EMPLOYMENT LAW. Taking Stimulus Money Requires Following Rules. Column by Richard S. Rosenberg

Signs of Stabilization in Home Prices

Increasing sales bringing stablization to home prices.

Discussion of Commercial Market Needs Specifics

More specifics needed when talking about commercial climate

Need Quiet? He's All Ears

Doug Pick makes a quieter world with his earplugs.

Lack of seating irks eateries

Restaurateurs hope the City Council will permit them to get more tables, which would allow for more customers.

Friday, May 8

Superior Still Open to Trimming Costs

Superior Industries International Inc. will continue to cut costs as needed as a response to the turmoil in the U.S. auto industry, its chief executive said.

Power-One Closes $60 million Investment

Camarillo-based Power-One, Inc. provider of power conversion and power management products, closed on a $60 million investment by Silver Lake Sumeru, an investment fund focused on middle-market technology enterprises.

Thursday, May 7

New jobless claims unexpectedly plunge to 601K

WASHINGTON -- New applications for jobless benefits plunged to the lowest level in 14 weeks, a possible sign that the massive wave of layoffs has peaked. Still, the number of unemployed workers getting benefits climbed to a new record.

Pierpont Inn sells for $5 million below listed price

The new owner of the historic Pierpont Inn in Ventura paid about $11.5 million for the property, much less than the listed price of $16.5 million, according to county records.

Online Exclusive: 'Magic" Offers Business Advice at the Valley Economic Summit

Athlete and business Entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson imparted a few pearls of wisdom at the fourth Annual Valley Economic Summit, nudging business owners about the importance of knowing their consumers, partnering with other companies, and "over-deliv

PWD threatens to sue city over rate protests

PALMDALE - The Palmdale Water District is threatening to take legal action if the city continues to encourage residents to oppose the district's proposed water-rate increases.

Wednesday, May 6

Property tax revenue expected to drop by $50 million

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors got its worst news yet about the fallout of the real estate crash as top county officials on Tuesday said property tax revenue this year will drop by an "almost unprecedented" amount, about $50 million.

Change in Leadership at Crown Media, Hallmark Channel

Henry Schleiff will step down at the end of May as president and chief executive of Crown Media Holdings Inc., the owner of the Hallmark Channel.

Transonic Receives New Round of Funding

Fuel injection systems developer Transonic Combustion Inc. received a third round of funding from investors.

Lancaster tops county in empty homes

Southern California average half of Antelope Valley city's

Weaver elected to authority

Councilman takes a seat on airport board, despite protestations from Ara Najarian.

Possible Bright Spots Appear on the Economic Horizon

The senate voted May 6 to help consumers switch their mortgages to less-expensive, government-backed loans, while also lowering the cost for banks to buy into federally insured loans.

THQ Struggles in Q4

Cost cutting and a strategy of focusing on titles with the greatest potential for sales has yet to turn around struggling video game publisher THQ Inc.

Tuesday, May 5

K Swiss Sells Laceless Footwear Brand

Athletic footwear designer K Swiss has sold its laceless fashion footwear brand to an investment group.

Parris defends Wal-Mart plan

Mayor says city has no other choice

Service sector contracts, but at slower pace

WASHINGTON -- A private measure of the U.S. services sector contracted for the seventh straight month in April but at a slower pace, the latest sign the economic downturn could be moderating.

Frank's Char Broiler closes in Thousand Oaks after 50 years

Frank's Char Broiler restaurant, a cozy lunch counter-style diner with a long history as a community gathering spot in Thousand Oaks, has closed after nearly a half-century of dishing up cheeseburgers, hot dogs and conversation.

Disney Income Plummets in Q2

Weak sales of DVD titles and less spending by visitors to its theme parks contributed to The Walt Disney Co. posting a 44 percent decrease in net income for the second quarter when compared to the previous year.

Woodbury's Annual Scholarship Gala Goes Green

More than 650 people attended Woodbury University's annual scholarship benefit gala at the Beverly Hilton this weekend, with the theme & #260;Viva Verde! What's Green, What's New, What's Green with You?

Monday, May 4

Online Exclusive: Bonner Addresses Stimulus Funds at Alliance Summit

Secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Dale Bonner will be among the speakers at the Valley Economic Alliance economic summit on May 6.

Obama to crack down on business taxes

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama plans changes to tax policy certain to be unpopular with corporations with international divisions and individuals who use tax havens.

Construction spending, pending home sales increase

Construction spending and pending home sales increased in March, the latest signs that the economy is picking up steam.

Fight Over Insurance Legislation Heightens

A group of U.S.-based insurers, including Zenith Insurance Company in Woodland Hills, rejected claims made in a study presented by foreign insurers fighting legislation that would tax offshore related-party transactions.

Open space at risk as county SOAR laws expire in 2020

Open space protection laws are set to expire in 12 years and could leave some undeveloped land around Moorpark and Simi Valley at risk for development without the vote of the people, members of the Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources group said.

UPDATE Airport Board Recommends Jet Phaseout

The Los Angeles World Airport board of directors voted May 4 to recommend the Los Angeles City Council approve phasing out older, noisier jets at Van Nuys Airport.

Friday, May 1

Image Revenue Meets Guidance

Image Entertainment Inc. anticipates hitting its revenue guidance for the fiscal year, the company announced.