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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Now, Here’s to a Better 2015

So, another year gone by. Has society progressed because in 2014 we read more about Kim Kardashian than Paris Hilton? Can we turn brown lawns into the next big thing? Will Los Angeles survive another year without a professional football team? It’s clear: 2014 was definitely not the best year for the Valley’s business community. So, as this year is about to recede into the rearview mirror, it’s appropriate to ask, “What’s ahead?” As Chicago Cubs fans used to say, “Wait till next year!” Of course, they did last win the World Series in 1908. So, presuming this will be the 107th year the Cubbies aren’t World Series Champs, what do we have to look forward to? Here are five things that would improve life for the Valley business community in the coming year: A new attitude in City Hall and Sacramento. Perhaps next year our elected officials (it would be cruel to call them politicians, and they’re certainly not statesmen and stateswomen) won’t continue to see business as the goose that laid the golden egg. Taxes. Over-regulation. Inefficient handling of permitting. Unresponsive City Council staffs. Wouldn’t it be great if all of these were addressed and resolved in 2015? President Calvin Coolidge said, “The chief business of the American people is business.” Our local and state lawmakers should inscribe those words on a plaque and read them every day. A realistic approach to traffic woes. A few years ago, County Supervisor Mike Antonovich recommended building monorails above the freeways. That was about as realistic – and cost-effective – as the current call for a tunnel through the Sepulveda pass. Instead, next year perhaps the MTA could focus on a proven means of alleviating traffic. Why not take the most successful rapid transit project in the County – the Valley’s Orange Line – and create more busways like that? Even though the October Orange Line numbers are falling (871,731 passengers in 2012; 860,764 last year; and 816,033 so far this year), they are still mighty impressive. The average number of boardings during the weekday was 30,423 people. The Orange Line isn’t glamorous and sexy like rapid transit trains … just more successful. A real business attraction program. We don’t have to worry about Disney, Amgen, Health Net and the other major firms in the Valley; they have large and sophisticated marketing departments to tell their story. Our small and mid-sized businesses need the economic boost that the combined efforts of government, organizations and individuals would provide. Why haven’t the Valley’s business organizations, such as the Economic Alliance, the two-dozen-or-so chambers of commerce, VICA, and others, banded together to create and market a real “Buy Valley” campaign? Perhaps someone will ask our Valley City Councilmembers what they are doing to promote local business. After all, more local business means more employees, means more tax money, means more city services they can provide … and voters elect and re-elect those who provide the best services. A focus on reducing crime in the Valley. Major crime is up; let’s not ignore it. According to the LAPD’s COMPSTAT statistics, violent crime (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) in the Valley Bureau is on the upswing. Through November 29, 2014, violent crime was up by 5.6 percent compared to the same period in 2012. In the first 11 months of 2012, there were 3,578 violent crimes; for the same period in 2014, 3,777. While other crime statistics are down, including property crimes, major crime is what concerns most people. In 2015, the best way to improve those major crime statistics is for a major level of cooperation between the community and the cops. “Can’t we all get along”? asked Rodney King, plaintively. It seems not. He was arrested here in the Valley – Lake View Terrace – in March 1991. By the time the riots emanating from the not guilty verdicts in the trial of the officers who beat him were over, 53 people had died; there were more than 2,000 reported injuries; and Los Angeles reported $1 billion in financial losses. This year is ending with more the same sort strife between peoples; perhaps 2015 can be a year where we begin to “all get along.” Of course, even if all of these ideas for 2015 come to fruition, they won’t end world hunger, bring peace to the Middle East, or turn Vladimir Putin into Mother Teresa; but they might make this a better San Fernando Valley for all of us. And a final thought: Things are pretty good here. Remember, everyone’s trying to get into this country; no one is kept from leaving. And it has been that way for more than 250 years. Martin M. Cooper is president of Cooper Communications, an Encino public relations firm. – How to reach us Guest Opinions: Op-ed pieces must be 700 to 800 words and on topics about the San Fernando Valley business community. Please submit op-ed ideas to editor@sfvbj.com.

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