June 23, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks in West LA about the future of local businesses

Close to 100 local business people turned out to the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s networking breakfast at The Olympic Collection on May 4 to hear Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti speak.

Garcetti was jovial, taking time to answer questions, letting attendees know that his door is always open – “we take insults and compliments” – and during a photo op with Chamber board members, grabbing the L.A. City flag and asking for a quick poll on whether he could have the flag redesigned. “I think the L.A. City flag is one of the ugliest I’ve seen,” he said. “It’s just S.O.B. – a seal on a banner. The City should have good flags!”

His 20-minute speech to attendees focused a great deal on the future of local businesses.

“When I came in as your mayor we had an unemployment rate that it was double what it is today,” he said. “Last year in America, unemployment fell about ten percent, in California it fell about 17 percent, but in the city of L.A. in one year it fell 28 percent.”

The mayor quickly checked off other strides the City has made in 2016 including that in the first quarter the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports accounted for one in nine jobs in the region, and that tourism has grown significantly. “I set a goal to have 50 million visitors by 2020 and each year we’re surpassing the goals to get there,” he said. Attendees laughed as the mayor joked that the 45.6 million people who have already visited the City did so “before Harry Potter [World at Universal Studios] opened. If you haven’t been, you should go. We’re expecting a million extra visitors because of [Harry Potter World] alone.”

Garcetti also spoke briefly of the investments Los Angeles is making in culture, including the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum, and the Broad Museum. “Los Angeles is the undisputed cultural capital of the world right now,” said Garcetti. “And the trade capital of America and the tourism capital of America.”

Switching from the macro to the micro, Garcetti noted that none of the above would be possible without the role businesses play.

“When we invest in business we invest in people and we invest in your stories. Behind every single one of your businesses isn’t just statistics and the bottom line, there’s actually a story, the struggle you’ve overcome, the dreams and the visions that you have,” he told the attendees.

Garcetti focused on how his office is working to make things easier for business owners at City Hall including moving plan checks to Saturdays and returning $160 million in tax reform back to businesses through tax amnesties and making sure startups don’t have to pay the City’s Gross receipts tax.

Moving forward, Garcetti said the City plans on focusing on investing in key infrastructure, much like the soon to be opened Expo Line that, as of May 20, will travel all the way from Downtown to Santa Monica. Those plans include finalizing a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass, having a train line all the way to LAX and ensuring the Valley has a north-south line. “Let’s make sure we do the things that can finally reduce traffic, which is the biggest drag on business and our own lives in this county,” he said.

To do so, though, requires introducing a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot. “I know asking [for this] isn’t easy,” he said, “but it’s time for us to do this.”

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