Recognizing that Long Beach elected officials will likely enact an increase in the minimum wage in coming months, the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is hoping to negotiate a deal that would make a raise more palatable to businesses in the city rather than opposing a wage hike outright.

The City Council is expected to vote this week to study the potential impact of raising the minimum wage, most likely to $15 an hour, the same level set in Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco.

The council is expected to have the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. conduct the study. The LAEDC recently did a study for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors before it voted last month to raise the minimum wage in the county’s unincorporated areas to $15 by 2020.

In Long Beach, council members supporting the wage hike said they also want to explore ways to help small businesses cope with an increase. That is welcome news to the chamber.

“The chamber and the business community now have a chance to weigh in,” said Jeremy Harris, senior vice president with the chamber.

He said the chamber would like to discuss a longer phase-in period for wage hikes for small businesses, looking at various definitions of small, ranging up to companies with 100 employees. It also wants to discuss city moves to cut business taxes or other fees.

It’s a much different tack for the chamber, which vehemently opposed a 2012 ballot measure calling for higher wages at the city’s large hotels.

“That was a one-issue campaign: Are you for it or against it?” Harris said, noting there was no room for negotiation. “This is a very different approach … and we are looking forward to the discussion process.”

Long Beach joins Pasadena, Santa Monica and West Hollywood in eyeing a minimum-wage increase. Of course, Los Angeles has already enacted a hike that will see wages rise to at least $15 an hour for all employers by 2021.

Harris said that even if all these cities raise their minimum wages, a hike in Long Beach could still prompt some businesses to leave there.

“People forget we’re next to Orange County, where no one is talking about raising the minimum wage,” he said. “Businesses could easily move to lower-cost cities in OC.”

Water Wars

Golden State Water Co., a subsidiary of publicly traded utility operator American States Water of San Dimas, recently lost another round it its effort to block a municipal water district from taking over its system in Ojai.

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