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Here’s Hoping Vision 2020 Is as Exciting as It Sounds

Here’s Hoping Vision 2020 Is as Exciting as It Sounds Editorial From The Newsroom – Michael Hart The moment’s finally arrived: The Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley is about to reveal Vision 2020. This is an 18-year plan for the Valley devised, believe it or not, by consensus of hundreds of people. Vision 2020 is a process that began in early September and involved a number of roundtable discussions, all with the intention of coming up with a comprehensive plan for the Valley over the next two decades. The report will be presented at the Airtel Plaza Hotel on Feb. 21. As Franklin Covey (or whoever it is that happens to manufacture your particular appointment book) tells us: You need a plan. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about your day, your business, your life – you’ve got to have a plan for it. Even more so in the case of a Valley with more than a million and a half people, tens of thousands of businesses and aspirations to become a city of its own. Vision 2020, in fact, could be the most significant document business and community leaders have before them as the San Fernando Valley seeks further to distinguish itself from the rest of Los Angeles over the next year or two. Or it could end up being an awful waste of time for all those hundreds of people who invested so much in it. What’s more, regardless of its significance, which is liable to be substantial, it could be – and I write this purely as a warning to those planning to attend the unveiling of this report on the afternoon of the 21st – boring. Face it: Any plan that tries to take into account what a geographic area the size of the San Fernando Valley will be like two decades from now is not going to have the same kind of sex appeal that, for instance, an Olympic figure skating scandal does today. And statements, as all-encompassing as they will have to be, on population densities, economic development strategies, traffic patterns and land use plans will not be able to compete for headline space with the Mayor Hahn-Chief Parks feud. Editors (like me) will yawn as reporters (like those here at the Business Journal) try to explain the stories they plan to write about Thursday’s event (even though we’re the ones who assigned them to cover it). Now, I know that what we call the policy wonks among you are already gritting their teeth as they read this. What do you mean, they’re already saying, projections of traffic flowing through the 405-101 interchange in 2015 aren’t fascinating? How can you say, they’re wondering, it’s not important to make sure there are enough water and sewer connections for the X number of people who will be living here in 2020? Do you really, they’re already asking, want to surrender the future to happenstance as we’ve seen it done in so many other places and times? The answer, of course, is no. But we do wish the whole thing had a little more sizzle. I really don’t know what form the Vision 2020 presentation will take at the end of this week and what there will be in it for us to act on now. I hope though that it’s something. A year from now, the San Fernando Valley may or may not be its own city. To some extent it hardly matters. As a community, the Valley is reaching a defining moment that has clearly been decades in the making. Even if on the morning after Election Day in November the Valley is still part of L.A., it will have clearly staked out an identity as a distinct community in a way that it hasn’t in the past. During the last several months, the only formal planning for that has involved figuring out how a new government might pay for itself in the weeks and months immediately following potential incorporation later this year. Eventually though, a new city here (even if it’s only in spirit) will be more than just who picks up the garbage and who decides how much we pay for it. It will be a spirit and, yes, a vision of what is liable to be here 20 years hence. That’s why a process like Vision 2020 is important, regardless of how ponderous and out of touch with reality it may seem here and now when there are so many more exciting things to distract us. So, listen carefully on Thursday – and don’t nod off. — With this issue, much as it has several times over the last couple of years, the San Fernando Valley Business Journal has a first: Our first special report on commercial real estate activity in the Valley. Elsewhere in this issue, you can read about the kind of year the industry had in 2001 and how 2002 is likely to shape up. You can learn about some of the individuals whose achievements stuck out above many others and about the developments that attracted the most attention. And you can read, in grueling detail, about the biggest deals of 2001. At least, it was grueling for us. Like I said above, you need a plan for everything and, for this project too, we had one: Survey every real estate brokerage we can find that does business in the Valley and ask them to send us information about their top people and the deals they did during the year. So far, so good. Then last week as the inevitable deadline fever set in, the real work took place – and circumstances changed. For instance, we would call up a broker to get details on what we thought was the big lease transaction he negotiated to have him say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I should have told you earlier that was a sale, not a lease.” Other helpful brokers called to say, “Hey, here are five 100,000-square-foot deals I forgot to mention. Do you have a pencil handy?” And we always did have one handy. So, in your hands you now have the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s first special report on commercial real estate, just as planned. Michael Hart is editor of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. He can be reached at mhart@sfvbj.com.

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