The complexity of navigating across Web pages can tax even the most resourceful among us.


Last year, during the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Access City Hall event, one chamber member complained that even though he has a master's degree and fluency in several languages, it still took him several hours to locate a downloadable business tax registration form on the city of L.A.'s Web site.

So, this month, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled a one-stop Web site for businesses in L.A., called Los Angeles Business Solutions. The site consolidates all of the business-related portals on the city's Internet site. The address is www.business.lacity.org.

"Making Los Angeles business-friendly is a top priority," Villaraigosa said in a statement. "Business owners don't necessarily work 9 to 5 and they don't have time to drive around town picking up forms. We're making it easier so that business owners can focus on managing and growing their business."

Once at the site, entrepreneurs looking to launch an enterprise can link to "Ten Key Steps to Starting a Business." There are also links to file business taxes, film permits, find city contracts to bid on, or find zoning and planning information for a specific address.

A business owner can also find out what local, state and federal incentives they might be eligible for. And the site has links to the mayor's Business Team and the office of international trade.

The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed the site. A chamber statement said that many of its members had previously expressed frustrations with no centralized location for business licensing, contracting and tax information.

Revised Diesel Rules

After taking flak from the state's trucking industry in recent hearings, the California Air Resources Board last week announced its revised rule to curb diesel pollution from trucks and buses.

The rule still requires the owners of the estimated 300,000 pre-2007 diesel trucks that cross California roads and highways to bring their engines up to standards by 2021. But it eases up on near-term requirements to replace diesel engines at a cost of up to $20,000 each. Instead, truckers can install soot filters that cost about $10,000 apiece.

Air board staff estimates that would lower the overall cost of compliance to a range of $3.6 billion to $5.5 billion between 2010 and 2021.

However, the new rules are still not to the liking of the California Trucking Association and Driving Toward a Cleaner California, a coalition of business and agricultural associations.

"What the board is proposing to adopt are the nation's most stringent new emissions regulations that could also be the most costly and far reaching rule that business has yet to face," said a statement by Driving Toward a Cleaner California.

The trucking industry says the cost of the retrofits and/or engine replacements coming at a time of record fuel prices will likely force many truck owner/operators out of business. Also, truckers say the cleaner-burning engines that would be required under the rule are not yet ready for prime time.

The rule will face another round of hearings later this month and possibly further revisions. It's now set to go before the full Air Resources Board in October.

Solid Waste Fee

Saying that too many solid waste-related companies are getting away with polluting their surroundings or disrupting their neighborhoods, Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas has introduced a motion to slap fees on all new and existing solid waste-related facilities to fund a permanent compliance monitoring program for all waste-related facilities in the city.

"Too many solid waste companies take advantage of our communities while they expect someone else to protect the environment," Cardenas said in a statement last week.

The solid waste-related facilities Cardenas is targeting include transfer stations, existing and closed landfills and solid waste vehicle yards.

Cardenas said that while these facilities are supposed to be inspected by the city's Environmental Affairs Department to ensure compliance with state and local environmental standards, the department does not have the authority to inspect facilities that had previously agreed to mitigation measures.

The motion, which was approved by the council on April 29, instructs city staff to report back to the council in 60 days on the cost of an expanded inspection program and to come up with a fee schedule for solid waste-related facilities.

Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227.

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