Los Angeles Business Journal

‘A City in Decline’? Not L.A.

OP-ED By Russell Goldsmith Monday, January 27, 2014

Six years ago this month at a City Hall news conference with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, I delivered a report crafted by an outstanding and diverse team of L.A. leaders. This mayor’s commission – the Los Angeles Economy and Jobs Committee – made 100 specific recommendations to foster the growth of the economy of Los Angeles.

Six years later, there is still plenty that needs to be done, as a recent report from the 2020 Commission correctly reminded us.

It is important for all public officials and private citizens to see the truth and focus on how Los Angeles can create much needed job and economic growth. I look forward to seeing the forthcoming recommendations from the distinguished commission. At the same time, the truth about L.A.’s current economy needs to be accurate and balanced.  

No one should believe that Los Angeles is “a city in decline,” as they state. In fact, from where I sit as both the chief executive of the largest bank based here in Los Angeles and as the chair of the L.A. Coalition for the Economy and Jobs – Los Angeles is actually on the way up.

Real progress has been made at the Los Angeles International Airport, in downtown Los Angeles, in our transportation infrastructure, at USC and UCLA, in the emergence of Silicon Beach and much more.

Here’s what we see:

• A Reawakening Downtown: L.A.’s downtown is in the middle of a renaissance – and you can see it in the cranes rising from the skyline – from Eli Broad’s $140 million art museum to downtown’s first Whole Foods to new condos and apartments to the new Target, more hotels and a $160 million renovation of Macy’s Plaza. There’s a major Western milestone coming – L.A.’s first new office tower in nearly 25 years. The 73-story, $1.1 billion investment in Los Angeles is the new Wilshire Grand Hotel and office tower. In fact, GQ Magazine has described Los Angeles as having the “coolest new downtown in America.”

• Growing Mass Transit: Ridership on the Expo Line jumped nearly 40 percent between August 2012 and August 2013. Measure R, a tax approved by voters in 2008 for mass-transit improvements, is being put to very good use and will invest more than $30 billion in Los Angeles plus billions more in federal funds to build out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 12 new public rail lines to connect our neighborhoods. This will ease traffic congestion, spur trade and tourism, improve air quality, boost development in these transit corridors (see Culver City) and create more than 210,000 high-quality jobs. Soon, the widening of the 405 freeway on the Westside will be completed, easing traffic congestion for literally hundreds of thousands of drivers.

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