Editor's Note: This story appears in the Dec. 15 print edition of the Business Journal.

Los Angeles County may be an expensive place to do business, and getting more expensive by the year, but there are some pockets of exceptions.

And the city of Westlake Village is one of them.

Bordering on Ventura County, Westlake Village has emerged as the least expensive city to do business in L.A. County, according to the annual Cost of Doing Business Survey to be released this week from Kosmont Cos. and the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College.

The survey looks at most of L.A. County's cities, along with scores of cities throughout California and the nation, comparing the level of utility, business and other taxes and fees that are levied on local businesses.

On the other end of the cost spectrum, Culver City, Los Angeles and Santa Monica are grouped together in the survey as the trio of the most expensive cities for business in the county. Those were the three on the survey's national list of costliest cities.

But Westlake Village was the only L.A. County city to show up on the survey's list of the 10 least expensive cities in California, putting it in a class by itself. (The survey compared 70 of the county's 88 cities, leaving out several cities that have very small business sectors.)

Westlake Village's secret? It has never levied business taxes, which are a major source of revenue for most cities in L.A. County. That saves most businesses hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year.


No hikes

The lack of a business license tax was "a big reason" why the Theiss Institute of Health & Fitness decided to open its store in Westlake Village four years ago, according to Nathan Samuels, the company's director of corporate development. The Theiss Institute designs custom health and fitness regimens for its clients.

What's more, Westlake Village has no plans to hike the utility taxes or any other fees it charges businesses in the near future, according to City Manager Raymond Taylor.

"Westlake Village has a long history of being friendly to business, with the lowest possible fees and taxes and there are no plans to change that," he said.

In L.A. County, dozens of cities have hiked utility taxes, parcel taxes, fees for city services and other government-imposed expenses on businesses. Just last month, voters in the cities of El Monte and Pico Rivera hiked their sales taxes, while San Gabriel voters increased their utility taxes. L.A. County voters in November approved a half-cent sales tax hike for transit projects.

"Cities were just passing these fee and tax increases left and right this year," said Larry Kosmont, president of the Kosmont Cos. "And next year, as losses in property values sink in and deeper cuts come from Sacramento, it's going to be even worse."

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