Complicating All Those Simple Business Solutions FROM THE NEWSROOM By Jason Schaff Nothing is simple. Well, yeah, a couple things. Good and evil are simple choices, but that’s about it. Certainly in business, things can get complicated. And a lot of us look for the simple explanation for things. I guess it makes us feel more in control of things if we think we know the answer. Take business retention, for example. We hear over and over that it’s our local tax structure that is driving businesses to surrounding cities and out of state. Change it and life will be beautiful. Well, not so simple. As Senior Reporter Shelly Garcia reports in this issue, many companies have moved out of Los Angeles to other cities because of nothing to do with taxes. A lot of them just can’t find the space here to expand or their top executives want to move to the suburbs where life is better for their kids. Both logical decisions and they go contrary to what’s been said about why businesses are fleeing. Enter Marvin Selter. The longtime Valley businessman, VEDC head, Business Tax Advisory Committee co-chairman. He stopped by the other day to talk about a few things he wants to see on the front burner in the business community. One of those things was business retention. He blames unions for a lot of the problems. “I think it’s time to take the unions on,” he said. “They are not doing anything for anybody.” He cited what I will agree was a disastrous settlement to the long grocery workers strike at the end of last year. The union leaders still got fat paychecks and the workers gave up too much. Unions have too much power and what it will take is for companies not to renew contracts with these organizations. But ultimately there’s no magic bullet, he concedes. This is where things get complicated. Unions are a fact of life. But they’re not everywhere. The smaller companies seem to survive without them. Selter caught my interest when he told me about something that he’s really trying to push and this is something that I think if resolved will strike at the root of many of our problems. Selter wants L.A. municipal and federal elections to run concurrently. What’s the big deal on this? Well, more people turn out for the federal elections such as expected in the one this November for president. Who thinks about going out to vote in the springtime when the L.A. mayoral election occurs? With more people voting the thinking is that the outcome of the municipal elections will be different if the number of voters is higher as is expected if municipal balloting is paired with federal voting. NoHo Report I just moved to the NoHo Arts District so I’ve decided to keep a close eye on things there and will periodically give a resident’s (not necessarily an editor’s) view of what might be needed. The Urban Land Institute recently published its report on what should be done to invigorate the area after collecting data during a January visit. The elements of it are all fine but I just keep thinking that we’re not going to go far enough on this thing. All the talk about greenbelts just clouds the core issues. I’m all for the environment and greenery but NoHo, to be the showcase that we all want it to be, needs to be a destination point. And I don’t mean a place to hop the subway. It needs to be a place to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. This means movie theaters, lots of restaurants and shops to browse. Let’s concentrate on those things and bring the television academy which has quietly stuck it out in the area for years much more into the fold as an anchor attraction. I spent some time in the heart of the NoHo Arts District last Saturday night, having dinner and walking around. It was dead. Not much activity at all. The different business owners and artists and arts patrons must work together to make the place come alive. It has such potential. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125.