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Thursday, Sep 28, 2023

Making a Statement in the Valley

For the first time in San Fernando Valley history, all seven of the Los Angeles city councilmembers representing the Valley gathered together at the inaugural State of the Valley event hosted by the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber. Over the years, we have witnessed everything from State of the Union to State of the City addresses. However, there has never been a State of the San Fernando Valley and the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber felt it was high time to change that. On Sept.18, all seven councilmembers who represent the San Fernando Valley gathered at the inaugural State of the Valley Lunch. They were Paul Krekorian, District 2; Bob Blumenfield, District 3; Tom LaBonge, District 4; Paul Koretz, District 5; Nury Martinez, District 6; Felipe Fuentes, District 7; and Mitch Englander, District 11. The format allowed each to sound off on minimum wage, services, business taxes and other key issues affecting the region’s business community. Of course, each one wanted to show that a silver lining exists in an area plagued by building vacancies, an unwieldy permitting process and high business taxes. Each councilmember was directed questions created by members of the business community, including: What is the city doing to see that we get a portion of the state water bond funds to clean up the Valley’s underground aquifers? Why hasn’t job creation been a priority for the city? What is the city doing to address the catastrophes caused by LADWP not maintaining their infrastructure? What are you going to do to revitalize the many Valley neighborhoods that need a boost? Can you assure us that the City Council is going to listen to the concerns of the business community in regards to the minimum wage increase proposals? As the seven councilmembers answered these and other questions, a common theme became apparent: Business just isn’t what it used to be in the San Fernando Valley. Valley businesses are worried about Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour, especially at a time when employers and manufacturing jobs are leaving the area. A recent survey of businesses showed that 78 percent of those responding are opposed to Garcetti’s proposal to raise the minimum wage by 2017, with future increases tied to the Consumer Price Index. When asked under what conditions they would support a minimum wage increase, a small number would support it if it were statewide, while an overwhelming 68 percent would not support it under any conditions, citing that it would be best to create an independent commission that determines any future increases based on the economic climate and need. Unfortunately the majority of the panel agreed with Garetti’s plan: that the benefit to employees outweighs the detriment to the business community. The majority of our businesses don’t agree. Councilmembers LaBonge and Koretz both praised Gov. Jerry Brown for signing a bill that triples film and television tax credits and said it was a good first step, but the city needs to be aggressive and have a $1 billion a year tax credit. We couldn’t agree more. We need to keep businesses here in the San Fernando Valley and not drive businesses to neighboring cities that have a more business-friendly environment. The chamber believes that no matter what your political party, you should be concerned about jobs. It’s jobs that drive the economy. If businesses leave the area, we lose jobs. If businesses cut employees hours, we lose jobs. The City of Los Angeles needs to consider what it can do to be a more business-friendly city and show that it is pro-business. If not, why would a business invest in our communities and in our future workforce? Regrettably, since the State of the Valley panel, the City Council has already approved a hotel minimum wage proposal, singling out one industry with its own specific minimum wage. Don’t let the business community’s voice go unheard; contact your local councilmember. The Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber definitely will. Nancy Hoffman Vanyek is chief executive of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce in Van Nuys.

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