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Monday, Dec 4, 2023

VICA Makes a Holiday Wish For Better City

Dear Santa Claus: The past few years have been rough for most of us. Businesses, individuals and even whole countries have struggled to survive one of the worst economic downturns in history. But, as you already know, businesses in Los Angeles have it particularly hard with high taxes, overreaching regulation and unresponsive leadership. Business owners have tried to put their faith in those they have elected to represent them and they have been disappointed year after year. And while many CEOs, general managers and entrepreneurs may have stopped believing in you years ago we here at VICA are convinced that there is a much better chance of you delivering the business community’s holiday wish list than our city officials. It is no secret that VICA spends the year working with elected officials in the hopes of improving the local business climate. And while the business community gets a win or two throughout the year, for the most part, business seems to get more lumps of coal than anything else. Santa, here are six issues that have been VICA priorities for several years now, and we humbly ask for you to deliver these important items to the business leaders of Los Angeles this holiday season: Improved city billing and collections practices with a centralized entity to oversee activities and hold departments accountable. Two city controllers, numerous council motions that went nowhere and years of prodding from VICA has not worked – maybe you and the reindeer will have better luck. Elimination of city business taxes. This one is self-explanatory and many economists agree that investment in businesses will actually increase city revenues. Streamline the permitting process by assigning a single point of contact who can guide the project from start to finish. The L.A. planning process is long, tedious and requires developers to work with 17 city departments. Making one person responsible for helping a project move from beginning to end would ease this problem. Get a handle on high pension costs by creating a separate pension system for all new city employees. The city’s pension obligation is out of control and it eats up the city budget like you gobble cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. Conduct an inventory of all city-owned property. A recent audit by the City Controller found that city departments cannot account for computers, vehicles, furniture and general office supplies. You of all people would understand the importance of keeping an accurate inventory – and checking it twice. Encourage transit-oriented and mixed-use development near public transportaion. The Valley has two important mass transit lines that help keep residents moving. Our sixth holiday wish is for more investment in transit-friendly development around these lines. The Orange Line is full of opportunities and there are several important projects already in the works around the Red Line subway. The business community has asked the Mayor and City Council for these things for years. Now in the spirit of the holiday season we will put our faith in you, Santa, and hope for better results in 2011. What items would be on your holiday wish list for L.A. City officials? Email your responses or thoughts about the column to angela@vica.com

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