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Howard Fine

Stories by Howard

Aquifer Owner Looks to Trump to Line Up Pipe

WATER: Cadiz hopes new administration will prove friendlier to desert project.

Aquifer owner Cadiz hopes a GOP White House will warm to its desert pipeline project.

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Cadiz Closes Public Offering; Raises $10.6 Million in Working Capital

Cadiz Inc., the Los Angeles company that’s trying to build a water storage and conveyance project in the Mojave Desert, announced Tuesday that it has closed a public offering that netted $10.6 million in working capital. Separately, the company announced a refinancing of $43 million in senior debt that extends the maturity date two years until September 2019.

Report: Steady Job Growth on Tap for L.A. County

Slow but steady will rule when it comes to job growth in L.A. County over the next six years, according to a forecast released Monday by Beacon Economics.

Party Prospects

Local businessmen’s support for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may secure roles in Republican administration, including gig as Treasury secretary

Businessmen boosters of Donald Trump may have secured a line on the White House.

Businesses May Pay for Ex-Con Hiring Measure

EMPLOYMENT: Critics of city of L.A. proposal fear costly interview process.

Hiring workers could get a bit tougher for many employers in the city of Los Angeles.

Pepperdine’s Graziadio School to Launch Business Incubator

Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management is launching a business incubator with a donation from a local venture capital investor, the Malibu university announced Thursday. Dan and Coco Peate made a “multimillion dollar” to launch the incubator, which will be called the Peate Institute for Entrepreneurship. The exact amount of the donation was not disclosed. It will operate at a yet-to-be-chosen site in the Conejo Valley, near Pepperdine’s Thousand Oaks campus and the Ventura headquarters of Dan Peate’s venture capital firm, Peate Ventures.

L.A. City Council Approves Sidewalk Repair Plan

After years of complaints from residents and businesses about crumbling sidewalks, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a $1.4 billion citywide sidewalk repair program, with rebates for residents and businesses that repair sidewalks on their own. The program represents a unique split-responsibility approach, with the city assuming most repair costs for the next 30 years and then turning over complete responsibility for repairs to adjacent residential or commercial property owners.

Trump to Tap L.A. Financier Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump is set to name L.A. financier Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury Secretary, numerous media reports said Tuesday afternoon. Mnuchin, 53, was Trump’s national campaign finance chairman and had been on the short list for the Treasury post. The Bel Air resident currently runs hedge fund Dune Capital Management.

Forecaster of Recession Fuzzy on Trump’s Future

ECONOMY: No bubble in housing market, according to Christopher Thornberg.

Economist Christopher Thornberg is not ready to give a vote of confidence to the president-elect.

Under Cloud

Tax hikes could burn vaping shops, customers

Vaping businesses fear a new state tax will leave little breathing room for their profit margins.

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Doing Business in L.A. Grew Tougher This Year

COMMERCE: Survey sees costs jumping even higher in 2016 with new taxes.

It might not be what local business owners want to hear, but the cost of doing business in Los Angeles has gone up yet again and will likely jump even more next year, according to a survey to be released this week. The annual Kosmont-Rose Institute Cost of Doing Business Survey has classified 46 of the 74 Los Angeles County cities surveyed as either “high cost” or “very high cost” in terms of tax and fee rates for businesses in 2016. That’s up from 45 last year and 44 the year before that, representing a steadily increasing trend. Even worse, eight area cities – including Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Culver City – rank among the 20 most expensive cities in which to do business in the Western United States. That’s also up one from last year.

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L.A. Unemployment Rate Ticks Up to 5.1 Percent

L.A. County’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.1 percent in October even as the number of payroll jobs reached 4.4 million for the first time ever, state figures released Friday show. The county’s unemployment rate edged up for the second straight month from 5 percent in September and a low of 4.9 percent in August, according to figures from the California Employment Development Department. A year ago, the rate was 6.1 percent.

SPECIAL REPORT: Lauren Gropper

Downtown executives reveal how the thriving city center works for them and their businesses.

Judge Rebuffs City’s Bid to Seize Water System

UTILITY: Tentative ruling questions advances under Claremont’s ownership.

Judge’s ruling may sink Claremont’s bid to take over Golden State Water’s local operations.

Port of Long Beach Cargo Figures Drop Amid Fallout from Hanjin Bankruptcy

October cargo container volumes fell 6 percent at the Port of Long Beach compared to the same month last year, as fallout from the bankruptcy filing of Hanjin Shipping Co. continued. A total of 581,808 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) moved through docks last month, down 6.2 percent from October 2015 levels. Total imports dropped 3.7 percent from last October, to 296,711 TEUs. Export TEUs were down 1.2 percent from last October to 126,770 TEUs.

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Sales Levies to Move Up With Transit Measure

TAXES: Some cities face losing retail business as rates reach double digits.

Approval of transit-supporting Measure M will drive some cities’ sales levies into double digits.

Retained Ban Proves Boon, Bane to Bag Makers

POLITICS: Future of two companies may hinge on use of recycled plastic.

When 52 percent of California voters last week upheld a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets, they created some business winners and losers in Los Angeles.

A Look Ahead: What’s on the agenda for Los Angeles business in the coming week

AUTOMOTIVE: Car expo to ride popularity of SUVs, attraction of new tech.

SUVs, plug-in hybrids, and the increasing convergence of technology and vehicles will dominate the 109th annual LA Auto Show this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Business Defeats Santa Monica Building Measure

DEVELOPMENT: City of L.A. voters pass initiative on subsidized housing.

Defeat of Santa Monica measure may offer blueprint for business groups going forward.

Some Local Sales Taxes to Hit New Highs After Election

How high is too high? That’s the question that will be confronting retailers around Los Angeles County in the summer after voters on Tuesday approved Measure M, a half-cent sales tax increase for transportation projects. Combined with other sales tax hikes approved by voters in several cities this week and in recent elections, the measure will push the sales tax to 10.25 percent in July in seven cities: Compton, La Mirada, Long Beach, Lynwood, South Gate, Pico Rivera, and Santa Monica. The tax rate will be among the highest in the country, matching the rate in Chicago, according to figures from the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit.

Development by Ballot Box Reveals Pros and Pitfalls

Development by ballot box delivered mixed results for developers this week. Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Calabasas all had development-related measures on the ballot Tuesday: Developers prevailed in Santa Monica but lost in the other three cities. Santa Monica developers and their business allies successfully fought off an attempt to clamp down on building projects. Measure LV, which was defeated by a margin of 56-44, would have required all projects at least three stories tall to be put to voters. But in Los Angeles, developers and business groups were unable to stop a labor-backed measure requiring most major projects to set aside up to 20 percent of units as subsidized housing and to pay construction workers union-scale wages. Measure JJJ passed with 64 percent approval.

Trump’s Election Prompts Local Economic Forecasters to Boost Odds for Recession

Donald Trump’s election as president has caused local economic consulting firm Beacon Economics to revise its national forecast to include an increased probability of a national recession.

Labor-Backed Housing Initiative Measure JJJ Passes

Voters in Los Angeles have approved a labor-backed initiative that creates affordable housing set-asides for major residential development projects that need zoning changes and require those projects to adhere to prevailing wage standards.

Ballot Measure to Fight Homelessness Passes in L.A.

Facing record numbers of homeless on city streets, voters in the city of Los Angeles approved a $1.2 billion bond measure to build thousands of housing units for the homeless.

Los Angeles County Voters Approve Measure M

Voters in Los Angeles County have approved a sales tax hike to raise tens of billions of dollars for an array of rail and road improvement projects, election results early Wednesday morning indicated.

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Maersk Shipping Line to Monitor Emissions from Upgraded Vessels

Shipping company Maersk Line on Monday announced an agreement with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to monitor emissions from 12 recently upgraded container vessels that use the ports.

Cap-Trade’s Future Looks Cloudy

POLLUTION: Participating firms fear losing credits worth millions of dollars.

Scrapping the Reclaim cap-and-trade program may strip businesses of millions of dollars in air credits.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Contractors at Home With Energy

NuQuest Industries has built a booming business out of home-energy upgrades.

Insurance Commissioner Urges Carriers to Cut Workers Comp Premiums 14 Percent

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is urging insurance carriers in the state to cut the workers compensation premiums they charge employers by 14 percent.

Shareholders May Have Say in Oil Bankruptcy

ENERGY: Judge approves role for equity committee in Breitburn negotiations.

Shareholder panel granted a seat at the table in oil company Breitburn’s bankruptcy negotiations.

Airline May Land Long Beach for International

AVIATION: JetBlue’s plan may rise on proposal for airport inspection facility.

JetBlue is looking to get international service off the ground at Long Beach Airport.

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Some Ballot Measures Will Hit Closer to Home

POLITICS: County, city decisions would impact sales taxes, development.

While most of the attention on Election Day will be on the presidential and U.S. Senate races and statewide ballot initiatives, there are plenty of local ballot measures that will impact business.

Gannett’s Tronc Interest Hits Major Snag

Gannett Co.’s interest in Los Angeles Times parent company tronc hit a major snag Thursday as a news report said lenders have withdrawn their financing.

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Jessica Lall Named New CEO of Central City Association

After a nationwide search, the Central City Association of Los Angeles found its new chief executive right next door.

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County Unemployment Rate Ticks Up to 5 Percent, But Job Growth Strong

L.A. County’s unemployment rate rose slightly in September to 5 percent despite relatively strong job growth for the month, state figures released Friday show.

Solar Company Loses Sizzle Through Expansion

POWER: Verengo files for Chapter 11 after Eastern states’ cooler reception.

Verengo Solar files for bankruptcy after getting burned by an overambitious expansion plan.

Powering Up

Swell Energy plugs batteries along with financing packages to homeowners

Swell charges into the home battery market on back of its financial packaging plan.

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Oil Companies Seek to Hold Ground on Drilling

ENERGY: Rule changes by city of L.A. include hike in cost of permit process.

A trade group representing small local oil producers is upset over changes to the city of L.A.’s drilling permit regulations and wants those changes rolled back.

High-End Stores Face Rocky Road

DEVELOPMENT: Repairs to street could hinder access to Golden Triangle shops.

Beverly Hills shop owners fear doing poorly during road reconstruction near a ritzy retail strip.

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L.A. City Economy Showing Broad, Robust Growth

The city of Los Angeles economy saw broad-based, steady growth last year, according to a report to be released this morning from Beacon Economics for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Opponents Kick Off Campaign Against Initiative to Rein in Mega Developments

Representatives from business, affordable housing and labor groups officially launched their campaign Monday against an initiative on the March Los Angeles city ballot measure that would place a two-year moratorium on major development projects and place permanent restrictions on mega-developments.

L.A. City Controller Runs Numbers by Business

GOVERNMENT: Open data, lawsuit reduction among Ron Galperin’s priorities.

City Controller Ron Galperin talks on how Los Angeles has greeted business-friendly policies.

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Bag Company Command Packaging Got Early Jump on Recycled Plastic

Ban Wagon

Plastic bag maker moved early to get a handle on recycled content requirements.

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L.A. Council Places Building Moratorium Initiative on March Ballot

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday voted to place on the March ballot an initiative from neighborhood anti-development activists that would impose a two-year moratorium on most major building projects and sharply curtail major projects going forward.

Incubator Hopes to Sow Field of Green Ventures

TECHNOLOGY: Campus to offer 60,000 square feet to eco-conscious businesses.

New incubator hopes to egg on green businesses.

Teslas Rev Up Driving Service

MotEV sees high-end cars as means to make inroads with eco-conscious crowd.

Driving firm MotEV has charged into the sector looking to tap positive buzz for Tesla’s electric vehicles.

Smoked Out?

Legal weed could test companies’ hiring policies

Legalized recreational weed could put employers’ drug policies to the test.

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Nine Local Cities Named Finalists for Most Business-Friendly City Award

Nine cities in Los Angeles County have been named as finalists for the most business-friendly award to be handed out this fall by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

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Broad Museum Smashes Attendance Projections in First Year

Downtown’s Broad Museum of Contemporary Art had a banner inaugural year, drawing in more than 820,000 visitors, according to figures the museum released Tuesday.

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Signatures Submitted for Measure for March Ballot; Another Measure Certified

Medical marijuana dispensary owners submitted more than 100,000 signatures Monday in their bid to place a measure on the Los Angeles city ballot in March to give the 135 dispensaries in operation before a 2007 moratorium priority in bidding for dispensary licenses.