Since it's a fresh, new year and possibilities abound, here are a few things I'd like to see in '08:

A better year for L.A.'s homebuilders. Ryland Group Inc. and KB Home saw their market caps sawed in half in 2007. Maybe they can rebuild a little in '08. Well, maybe '09.

A lesson learned by L.A.'s subprime and Alt-A mortgage lenders. Since IndyMac Bancorp Inc., Fremont General Corp. and Countrywide Financial Corp. sustained stock drops of about 80 percent or more in 2007, perhaps executives took it to heart that they were on an errant path.

An end to bogus "green" campaigns. Remember the old "new and improved" scam in which the only things "new" were brighter packages and smaller contents? In today's twist, most everything ordinary has been rebranded to be
"environmentally friendly" often masking a boost in prices or a cut in service or product, such as hotels that no longer routinely change towels and linens.

A phaseout of trite and overused business phrases. Let's start with these: mission critical; high impact; ahead of the curve; outside the box.

An effort by home sellers to keep it in perspective. It may be easy for sellers to complain about today's "low" $510,000 median price. But four years ago this month, the median price of homes that sold in Los Angeles County was $360,000. Even if you assume a fairly brisk 5 percent annual appreciation from that point, the median today would be $438,000.

A sincere move by local elected leaders to address L.A.'s chronic traffic problems. It would be grand to see action on the streets to bring quick relief. Not just dreams of subways to the next century.

An escalation in the frozen yogurt battle. It's L.A.'s Pinkberry vs. Culver City's Red Mango in a cold fight for market share. Sure, the stuff is popular here, but how much frozen yogurt can they sell in Minneapolis and Chicago in the winter? We may find out if the companies march across the country.

A stable year for L.A.'s stock stars of 2007. Jacobs Engineering Group's 135 percent increase in stock value last year was among the area's best and third best among all S & P; 500 stocks. Little RadNet Inc. wasn't far behind. It can be tough for a stock to hold big gains quickly gotten.

Some wisdom from officials of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Sure, it's fine to want to clean up the air, but it's not so wise to wipe out a thousand or so small businesses and to impose high costs on customers while trying to do so.

A speedy return to the public market for Hilton Hotels Corp. Other than some shareholders, who really liked seeing the Beverly Hills-based Hilton bought by a private equity firm last year? Ditto for Univision Inc.

A snuff out of the proliferation of smoking bans. I don't like being around smoke, but it's gone too far when such cities as Santa Monica and Beverly Hills won't let smokers light up in outdoor restaurants and Calabasas is moving to ban smoking in apartments.

Finally, I hope we all enjoy a happy and prosperous 2008.

Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at

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