Port of L.A. OKs Redevelopment Zone After Years of Opposition

After years of resistance to such a move, the Port of Los Angeles is moving ahead with a plan to designate itself as a new redevelopment zone, one that could collect and distribute up to $261 million in tax revenue over the next 30 years, Copley News Service reported. Working with Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Assemblywoman Betty Karnette, harbor officials are seeking passage of a state bill that would allow the new redevelopment area to pay for clean-air initiatives and other projects.


Water Use Down, Bills Up
Record-shattering rainstorms have sharply cut water use in Los Angeles, but the Department of Water and Power has charged its customers millions of dollars more than a year ago, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Residents and businesses used 1.8 billion gallons less water this rainy January than the same month a year ago, but paid $5 million more for it. That's because rates are 11 percent higher and the DWP is tacking on a surcharge to cover the higher prices it is paying since its own supply from the Owens Valley is dwindling. Consumers ended up paying $45.3 million for water last month versus $40.3 million a year ago.


Pork Barrel Raided to Hire Cops
To hire more police officers, Los Angeles City Council members on Wednesday gave up nearly $1 million in city funds that would have gone to their pet nonprofit organizations without competitive bidding, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Without discussion, the council unanimously approved the shift of $961,200 to the 6-month-old Police Hiring Special Fund. The council now has set aside a total of $1.46 million, which is enough to hire about 14 of the 3,000 extra officers sought by Chief William Bratton.


Luxury Home Values Soar
Luxury home values in Los Angeles soared a record 27.7 percent last year in response to continued strong demand and tight supplies, according to First Republic Bank's Prestige Home Index, which tracks the change in value of a pool of properties worth $1 million or more. In Los Angeles, the average value of a luxury home soared an annual $428,000 to finish last year at a record $1.97 million, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Since December 2002, the average value of a luxury home in Los Angeles has increased more than $600,000.


A Mixture of Church and State?
Blog L.A. Observed reports that the lead item on the City of L.A. Web site for Councilwoman Janice Hahn is a link to her testimony at the Billy Graham Crusade held last November. In it she quotes scripture, says she is on the council to do God's work and begins by telling the story of how she found God. The reader that supplied the information to L.A. Observed has asked Hahn's office to explain how this is appropriate on a city-owned Web site, but complains he has not yet received an answer.


A New Wrinkle in Workforce
A growing number of people 75 and older are continuing to work, some because they have to, and others because they want to, reported the Los Angeles Times. The number of employed workers 75 and older grew from 669,000 in 1994 to just under 1 million last year, according to Labor Department statistics. Those numbers will increase as the large baby boom generation ages. In a 2003 survey, the AARP, the nation's largest senior citizens organization, found that 68 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 70 said they expected to work past normal retirement age.


Mammoth Ski Resort Founder Is Selling Stake After 68 Years
Dave McCoy, the outdoorsman who founded the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, is putting up for sale his controlling interest in the Eastern Sierra winter resort, the Los Angeles Times reported. Financial bankers hired by McCoy said a "handful" of companies had expressed interest in the properties, which analysts estimated could fetch as much as $200 million. Speculation about prospective buyers included McCoy's chief executive, Rusty Gregory; development partner Intrawest Corp.; Walt Disney Co.; and actor Robert Redford. Intrawest, a giant Canadian resort developer that teamed up with McCoy in the mid-1990s, has first dibs on his stake.


Wal-Mart to Expand in California Due to High Prices
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. said the world's biggest retailer plans to expand in California because grocery prices in the state are too high, giving Wal-Mart the chance to undercut other chains, Bloomberg News reported. Wal-Mart has three "supercenters," which sell groceries as well as general merchandise, in California. The company failed last year to win a ballot initiative to open another store in Inglewood. Scott said the plan failed because the company "decided to move through a process that didn't go through city hall."


Californians Back Schwarzenegger Bid to End Pensions, Poll Says
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to phase out the $300 billion state workers' pensions system in favor of individual retirement accounts is supported by half of voters, a poll found. The Republican governor's proposal is backed by 51 percent of voters and opposed by 38 percent, according to a poll by the Field Research Corp. A separate poll taken a month ago by the Public Policy Institute of California showed the measure had the support of 64 percent of voters, Bloomberg News reported.


Wachovia to Halt Suspect Trading
Brokerage Wachovia Securities said Wednesday that it had permanently stopped a long-running trading practice at one of its Westlake Village offices after claims that the program may have violated securities rules, the Los Angeles Times reported. Wachovia was investigating certain arbitrage trading at the office in response to an anonymous letter. The New York Stock Exchange and the NASD also are investigating the letter's allegations.


JetBlue Eyes Burbank Airport
JetBlue Airways Corp. will add coast-to-coast service from Burbank in late May, the Los Angeles Times reported. In a move that would mean the first nonstop flights between Burbank and the East Coast, the discount airline intends to launch three daily nonstops between Bob Hope Airport and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport , JetBlue's home base , on May 24. A fourth daily flight was scheduled to be added in July.


FCC Rules May Force Indie 103.1 FM to Change Its Tune
The future of Indie 103.1 FM may be in jeopardy because a shift in federal regulations will force Clear Channel Communications Inc. to abandon its business partnership with the station's owner, the Los Angeles Times reported. Owned by Entravision Communications Corp., a Santa Monica-based Spanish-language media company, the station went on the air 14 months ago under a joint sales agreement with Clear Channel, owner of eight stations in the L.A. market. Revised FCC regulations redefine joint sales agreements in such a way that Indie 103.1 constitutes Clear Channel's ninth station here, and federal media rules bar any company from owning more than eight.


Univision Act Irks Televisa
Univision Communications Inc.'s second-biggest shareholder, Grupo Televisa, called on the company Wednesday to improve corporate governance after objecting to Univision's promotion of Ray Rodriguez to president two weeks ago, Bloomberg News reported. Grupo Televisa of Mexico opposed the decision by Univision Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio, the controlling shareholder, to promote Rodriguez without consulting other investors.


EMI Music Signs With Peer-to-Peer Service
EMI Music became the fourth major recording company to agree to make its music available over a legal peer-to-peer service that hopes to lure customers from illegal sharing programs, the Associated Press reported. Peer Impact, which Wurld Media Inc. plans to roll out by the end of March, had announced licensing deals in November with the three other major companies: Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.


Women Hit With Salary 'Penalty'
Professional women who put careers on hold for family or other reasons earn 18 percent less once they return to the workforce, a survey published in the Harvard Business Review found. The salary "penalty" for hopping off the career track is even higher in the business world, where earnings drop an average of 28 percent, according to the survey by the Center for Work-Life Policy. The drop in pay partly reflects many women's decisions to return to work in jobs with less responsibility, or to part-time jobs. But it may also reflect that women are exiting the workforce during the years when many men make the largest leaps up the corporate ladder, the survey's authors concluded.

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