Two of L.A. County's best-known cities are taking diametrically opposed approaches to the recession, as their mayors explained at a recent breakfast organized by the Westside Urban Forum, which organizes monthly discussions on subjects of local interest.

West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang said his city is close to enacting an "economic hardship package," aimed at helping businesses cope with the difficult times. The package will include streamlining of permit applications, waiving some fees paid for permits and other city services, and easing up on advertising restrictions.

But Beverly Hills Mayor Barry Brucker was not in a position to offer carrots to business. That's because in November the Beverly Hills City Council, in a desperate search for extra cash to avoid cutting services, decided to ask voters to approve Measure P, which would raise a number of taxes on business, especially on the city's numerous medical groups and law firms. The March 3 ballot measure would also impose a 10 percent tax on private parking lots and would boost the levy on oil pumped from underneath the city.

It's not likely to make business people as happy as West Hollywood's approach.

"The city of Beverly Hills may have put its foot on a land mine with this ballot measure," Brucker said.

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