Disney Parks Increase Market Share

Propelled by the 50th-anniversary promotion of its flagship Disneyland theme park, Walt Disney Co. increased its share of the North American theme park market this year. All six U.S. Disney theme parks logged gains in attendance, with Disneyland growing the most of any of the major North American attractions, according to estimates released Monday by Amusement Business and Economics Research Associates. About 14.5 million visitors passed through Disneyland's gate, an 8.5 percent jump from 2004, the trade journal said. Only the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World had greater attendance, the Los Angeles Times reported. Universal Studios Hollywood drew 4.7 million visitors, 6 percent fewer than last year. Attendance at North America's 50 most popular amusement parks rose 4.2 percent in 2005.

Meter's Running Higher for Cabs
Los Angeles kicked off the trend in cab fare increases last month when its 10.2 percent rate hike took effect. West Hollywood and Burbank followed suit, pushing up their rates to match. Fares in Beverly Hills are set to rise in early January. Culver City and Torrance, responding to requests from cab companies, are considering raising their fares as well. Cabdrivers and operators said the hikes were long overdue. Years can pass before new rates reflect increases in the cost of living and fuel and vehicle maintenance expenses, they said. Not surprisingly, affected passengers aren't pleased, the Los Angeles Times said. A new rate goes into effect after the board of taxicab commissioners and the City Council approve it.

Primary Fight May Be Bitter
With big-name Democrats passing up the chance to make a run at ousting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the party's June primary is taking shape as a race between two virtual unknowns who appear headed toward a harsh campaign that some party leaders fear could benefit the Republican incumbent. Both Democrats , state Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly , hold obscure jobs that draw scant public attention, the Los Angeles Times said. Foreshadowing a spiteful race ahead, both have launched efforts to undercut the other's credibility. The opening of what looks, for now, to be a two-man Democratic contest comes as Schwarzenegger prepares to unveil a 2006 agenda in January that will serve as a roadmap to his reelection campaign.

Design Panel to Oversee San Pedro Downtown Projects
Nearly half a dozen new projects in the early stages are slated to be built in downtown San Pedro, most of them residential or mixed-use developments. Now, a newly appointed design advisory panel will be able to affect how those buildings will look once they're built. Appointed by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, the seven-member advisory board includes architects, artists and urban planners. The panel is set to begin work in January and will make recommendations to the CRA and Pacific Corridor Advisory Committee about projects being proposed, the Daily Breeze reported.

Condo Project Shortened
A condominium project in Montrose has been cut down to size after Los Angeles County officials took the rare step of requiring the developer to remove part of the third floor. Neighbors of the 14-unit project complain that the building is a poor fit for their street of single-family homes and duplexes. But the project, which is in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, was more imposing before county officials ordered the developer to cut 7 feet from an end unit so it would comply with the height code of 35 feet, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The developer was allowed to keep the rest of his third floor intact because it meets the height requirements.

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