A coalition of local business and real estate groups has formed to oppose some aspects of a storm water runoff regulation being considered by the city of Los Angeles, saying it could discourage development.

The regulation would force residential and commercial developers to install expensive systems to eliminate most runoff from their properties, pay a fee of $13 per gallon of runoff or pay for other runoff reduction projects. It would apply to most projects now in initial planning stages and to all future projects.

The aim of the regulation is to reduce the amount of pollution that flows downstream during storms to local beaches.

The regulation was crafted in anticipation of a regional water board mandate that was required by the state. The city’s plan won initial approval in January from the Board of Public Works and now goes to the City Council for adoption.

Portions of the regulation have been opposed by a coalition including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and the local chapters of the Building Industry Association, the Building Owners and Managers Association and the National Association of Industrial Properties.

The regulation requires developers of projects with more than 500 square feet of space to install systems that capture 100 percent of runoff from a storm generating three-quarters of an inch of rain. Those could include artificial absorption systems, or the use of plants and other biological materials to let water seep into the ground. Also possible are cisterns to capture water and then reuse it.

The Department of Public Works issued a brochure showing successful runoff control strategies. Included was a photo of the Versailles Luxury Apartment complex in Koreatown, which uses planter boxes to capture rainwater.

Developers have two options for any remaining runoff: They could fund a project to reduce runoff from a nearby site or pay the $13 per gallon fee.

The business and real estate coalition opposes the fee. In a Jan. 8 letter to the Board of Public Works, group leaders said Los Angeles County does not require a mitigation fee for projects on unincorporated land. As a result, “we believe that it will only discourage new development in the city,” the letter stated.

Also, the coalition wants the city to lower planning fees of up to $1,000 that are included in the ordinance.

Valet Control

The city of Los Angeles is developing its first ordinance to regulate the valet parking industry.

The impetus for the ordinance came from a series of complaints from residents and valet parking customers alleging abuses by valet parking operators, particularly in Hollywood. Valets would frequently park cars in residential zones, jack up prices on the spur of the moment, and park in metered spaces and not bother to feed the meters. Many of these abuses were attributed to upstart valet services undercutting more established operations.

In response to these complaints, City Council President Eric Garcetti, who represents the Hollywood area, introduced a motion to have city staff craft an ordinance to regulate the valet industry. On Dec. 16, the council voted unanimously to direct City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to draft an ordinance. The ordinance will likely require all valet parking operations to register with the Los Angeles Police Commission. The registration fees could generate as much as $1 million a year in revenue that could be used for enforcement.

The ordinance will also likely require valet parking company owners to show they have enough spaces to handle all the cars for their contracting businesses. Also, valet parking company owners and their employees will likely have to undergo background checks.

Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for Trutanich, said his office received the paperwork from the council in mid-January. The city attorney and his staff will now meet with police, planning and transportation officials over the next several weeks to work out details of the program.

Job Injury Notices

Effective this week, most California companies with more than 10 employees must post summaries of all workplace injuries that occurred the previous year.

The state Department of Industrial Relations requires that these summaries of job-related injuries be posted from Feb. 1 through April 30 of each year in areas accessible to all employees. The summary forms must be posted at each company location, not just headquarters.

Employers in certain low-risk industries in the retail, service, finance and real estate sectors are exempt from the posting requirements.

For more information and to download the appropriate forms, employers can log on to the California Chamber of Commerce’s Web site at CalBizCentral.com or the Department of Industrial Relations’ site, DIR.ca.gov/wpnodb.html.

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

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