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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023

Parks Puts Emphasis on Business Retention

Bernard Parks has made business interests a pillar of his campaign for mayor, speaking out for landlords, and promising to encourage industrial companies to set up shop in Los Angeles, rather than relying on service industries as the primary economic mover. One of the major problems in business retention, he said, is assuming that companies will put up with any inconvenience in order to set up shop in Los Angeles. The city needs to keep moving forward on issues like business tax reform in order to attract business, Parks said. Parks has been critical of incumbent James K. Hahn. Parks, a councilmember representing the eight district in South Los Angeles and a 38-year veteran and former chief of the LAPD, has maintained that a three-day, twelve-hour shift schedule for police makes the city less safe and complained that special interests have a hold on city hall and this favors some business interests over others. Internally, Parks’ campaign has been rocky. Four campaign managers have left in the last few months, and Parks has also had trouble raising money compared to his opponents. On January 22, the campaign had $437,000 in cash where Hahn had $2.5 million and Bob Hertzberg and Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa had $1.6 million and $1.7 million, respectively. Moving from the LAPD to the city council, Parks showed enthusiasm and skill and managed to be named chairman of the budget committee. He’s opposed an effort to place a half cent sales tax increase, which would be used to pay for police officers and other public safety positions on the May 17 ballot saying the city needs to account for its current spending before asking residents to pay more. Parks said that he always managed to stay within his $1.5 billion budget as police chief and combined with the fact that he has been working in the city for over 40 years, he’s more qualified than his competitors to be mayor. Question: What are your plans to improve the business climate in the city? Answer: There are several things we have to do. What I see throughout the city’s history is a series of raising funds on existing city businesses. I think the first step in improving the business climate was dealing with tax reform. If what business says is true, that with more money they’ll do more business and pay more into the city, if that is true and that money is regenerated, there are other reforms that we need to move forward. We can no longer afford the kind of ordinances that just passed that basically tell major retailers that we don’t want their business, because we’re making it so expensive for them that they’re going to build on our borders and the city’s residents will drive to them. We tend to think that business is clamoring to locate here, but business with technology can be housed anywhere, so there’s no benefit to being in the city of L.A., particularly if it doubles your cost of business. We’ve also failed to realize that one of the most important businesses in this city is home and apartment ownership. Ownership in the city is under 40 percent, and we’re sending away people that are providing affordable housing in the city because we’re taking away their ability to break even. Q: Can you give an example of advantages given to some industries over others in Los Angeles? A: Clearly there was an effort to reach out to the entertainment industry with tax reform, and there was an effort to reach out to environmental companies with green reductions. There needs to be an effort to reach out to all industries. The reason I’m trying to level the playing field for landlords is because I believe they provide one of the most important things to this city, affordable housing. We have a 25-year-old ordinance that says they cannot raise their rent more than three percent, but we know that the cost of managing a building has gone up between two and four hundred percent. I don’t think the government is in the position to solve housing, but I think private industry is, if you get out of their way and give them the ability to build housing at every level. We also need more industrial jobs, we need companies that make tangible things. We cannot continue as a city of this size and have only service businesses. We need to make sure the industrial land in the city is still being put to use. Why do we allow fast food businesses on every corner with jobs that aren’t careers while these restaurants service centers are always outside the city? What you see in the city are trucks bringing supplies to restaurants, and armored trucks coming and taking the money out, but they aren’t bringing in those high-paying jobs that we want in the city. Q: Why should a businessperson in the Valley vote for you? A: I think a Valley businessperson has to look at the pool of candidates. Who’s the only one that’s run a budget of $1.5 billion and always stayed within budget? As the budget chair, who brought a balanced budget? I’m also the only candidate to say we need to make a real effort to solve the structural problems in the budget, and we’re working on that now. When you look at my record in the council, I’m the only one who voted against pay raises for city employees in the middle of a budget crisis. The police raise alone would have hired 800 officers, the raise for the firefighters would have hired 400 firefighters. Q: Why did you decide to run for mayor? A: There are several reasons, I think the primary reason is that I’ve seen a total lack of leadership on some of the most important issues for the city. When you go through the things that this city needs, significant leadership for today and the future whether on transportation, housing, economic development, whether it’s dealing with public safety, there are no long term coherent policies coming out of this administration. Secondly, when you look at the issue of corruption that’s on the front pages of the paper every day, there’s a new revelation of misuse of city money. Thirdly, it’s even more evident, now that I’m a member of the council, what a stranglehold special interests have on the city of Los Angeles. Q: Where has James Hahn failed as mayor? A: We’re a city that has been viewed as on the forefront of many initiatives that impact the entire country. We’ve fallen off that plateau, we’re not leading on many issues. Even the mayor, in his second year in office was quoted in the L.A. Times as saying “Don’t expect anything big from me.” Well, I would think we want big things from the mayor of Los Angeles. Just on one issue alone, density and population, if we do not seriously consider how this city will grow, and don’t start developing for the next 10 to 15 years a coherent housing plan, transportation plan, economic development plan, public safety plan and infrastructure plan, our streets alleys and sidewalks, if we don’t start seriously considering those issues, the density coming to this city will grind it to a halt. We need to not only deal with the day to day, potholes and things like that, but if we don’t seriously look at the city over a long period of time, the volume of people demanding services will bring it to a standstill. Q: A lot of people in the Valley know you only as police chief, what are you going to do to get your message across to those voters? A: I think the whole city knows me as police chief, but as a police chief and police officer for 38 years, there is a significant impact you make on the city beyond the narrow aspect of talking about arresting people. The issue of significant involvement in youth programs, not only as a police officer, but the expansion of them as police chief and the introduction of a prevention and intervention model in which we work with all the city departments. In my judgment, quality of life is far more important to communities than sound bites about law and order. That’s what I’ve learned in the Budget and Finance Committee, if you listen to people, their view of public safety is broader than the police department. Their view of public safety is whether their parks are clean and whether their libraries are open. There’s clear understanding of the connection between education and criminal justice, without education you create another generation of people that are going to end up in jail. People see me as someone who has been in their community and developed community programs. They’ve seen me as someone who has ensured that their schools are safe by having D.A.R.E. officers in every school, they’ve seen me as someone who’s supported their after school programs. I’ve been a part of the Valley and different parts of the city throughout all my career. I think the important message for people that live in the Valley is we’re all one city. My candidacy is not based on just getting their votes and ignoring them for four more years. The reason that the Valley is getting two more police stations is primarily because of my efforts. As mayor, I’m going to ensure a physical presence in the Valley, more than any mayor in the past, and spend a minimum of one work day a week. Bernard Parks Title: Eighth District L.A. City Council Representative Age: 61 Personal: Married, four children. Education: AA Degree from L.A .City College. Bachelor of Science from Pepperdine University in 1973, Master’s in Public Administration from USC in 1976.

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