Airport Expansion Plans Scrapped

A controversial plan to turn Hawthorne Airport into a commuter-traffic annex of L.A. International Airport was scratched last week, along with another of the four concepts that were being considered to expand LAX capacity.

The Board of Airport Commissioners is working on a master plan for the future of LAX that would allow it to accommodate an additional 40 million passengers a year and double the volume of air cargo shipments by the year 2015.

One of the four plans called for taking over Hawthorne Airport for LAX commuter planes and creating a dedicated roadway to shuttle passengers back and forth between the two airports. Airport officials determined the plan would have added 35 minutes to passengers' travel time, and deemed that an unacceptable delay.

The other scrapped concept called for construction of a new commuter runway that would have cut across Pershing Drive in Playa del Rey.

The two remaining proposals call for one or two commuter runways to be built in other locations, in addition to an automated people-mover system, a new airline terminal, and a "ring road" surrounding LAX linked to the regional traffic network.

The master plan is slated to be finalized this year and presented to the L.A. City Council and Federal Aviation Administration for approval.

Union, Hotels Reach Agreement

Local 11 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union has reached an agreement with six L.A. hotels guaranteeing employees higher wages and benefits and unprecedented levels of job security.

Under the new six-year contract which was agreed to by the Biltmore, Holiday Inn Convention Center, Hyatt on Sunset, Hyatt Regency, Omni and Sheraton Universal hotels workers will receive wage increases of as much as 36 percent. A housekeeper's hourly wage, for example, will increase from $8.15 to $11.05 over the life of the contract.

The contract also prevents the hotels from subcontracting out such services as restaurants and housekeeping to non-union employers, and guarantees job and contract security even if ownership of the hotel changes.

The agreement marks a significant shift from the last round of tourism contract negotiations in 1992 when the tourism industry was mired in recession and union and management engaged in a bitter dispute over extending health benefits to service workers.

Local 11 still is negotiating with eight other hotels. Its current contract expires April 16.

L.A. Gear Restructuring

Struggling athletic shoe company L.A. Gear Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week after reaching a restructuring agreement with bondholders.

The ill-fated shoemaker plans to continue operations as normal while using the bankruptcy proceedings to shield it from creditors until it has restructured its debts.

L.A. Gear was one of the local apparel industry's shining success stories in the mid-1980s, going from a Melrose Avenue shop to the nation's No. 3 athletic shoe company after Nike Inc. and Reebok International Ltd. That changed in the early 1990s, when the company's target customer teenage girls apparently grew tired of the brand.

Under the restructuring plan, L.A. Gear's existing common stock, now traded on the Nasdaq bulletin board, will be eliminated. Newly created shares of preferred stock will be distributed to PCH Investments, which owns 42 percent of the company, as well as to bondholders and creditors.

Resnick Sues Imperial

Judy L. Resnick, co-founder of the L.A. investment bank formerly known as Dabney Resnick, claims in a lawsuit filed last week that Imperial Credit Industries engaged in a conspiracy to fraudulently push her out of her own company.

Resnick, a former Drexel Burnham Lambert trader who left the firm along with Drexel alumnus Neil Dabney to form their own company in 1989, sold her 50 percent stake in Dabney Resnick to Imperial in May 1997. At the time, she agreed to give up her responsibilities as chief executive but was to retain the title of chairwoman and collect a $400,000 annual salary.

The name of the company was subsequently changed to Imperial Capital. And, according to the lawsuit, Resnick discovered she was no longer being recognized as its chair in December, when business cards were passed out to everyone in the office except her.

Resnick claims she has been gradually excluded from company business for months, left out of meetings while her personal effects were quietly removed from public spaces in the office.

Dabney left the firm in 1996, and Imperial later acquired a 50 percent stake, with Resnick owning the other half. She then sold her portion to Imperial for an undisclosed sum.

Imperial officials said the lawsuit is without merit.

Greenspan Comes to South Central

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan made a rare visit to Los Angeles last week, touring a South Central L.A. neighborhood and commenting to reporters on a subject about which he rarely speaks community reinvestment.

Greenspan told reporters, community officials and banking leaders not to look to government to solve inner-city problems.

Saying he is dubious of government subsidies, Greenspan said there is plenty of available credit in low-income areas. He did not offer any solutions to inner-city woes, only ruling out government as the answer.

Greenspan was here at the invitation of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, a member of the House Banking Committee who frequently criticizes banks for their reluctance to lend in low-income areas.

Construction Firm Leaves L.A. County

ARB Inc., one of the largest construction firms in the country, has relocated its international headquarters from Paramount to Orange County, taking with it 150 jobs.

The $220 million-in-revenues company moved to a new 50,000-square-foot facility on 9.5 acres of land earlier this month.

Greater housing options and a highly educated labor force were cited by company officials as reasons for the move.

In Los Angeles, ARB's pipeline division has been working on the massive project to bring crude oil from Bakersfield to the Port of Los Angeles.

Following the move, company officials said ARB plans to focus on educational facilities such as a project at UC Irvine, as well as on positioning itself to take advantage of new office construction, a segment of the market that is expected to take off in the next few months.

Compiled by Dan Turner, Larry Kanter and Nidal M. Ibrahim

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