Los Angles Airport, Harbor Trustees Pass Council Muster
The L.A. City Council approved eight of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s nominees to the airport and harbor commissions Tuesday, including an activist who faced scrutiny due to her involvement in a lawsuit against Los Angeles World Airports, Copley News Service reported. The council gave the go-ahead to harbor commission nominees Jerilyn Lopez-Mendoza and Joe Radisich, as well as airport commission nominees Alan Rothenberg, Michael Lawson, Sylvia Patsaouras, Fernando Torres-Gil, Joe Aredas and Valeria Velasco. Velasco, who previously headed the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion, will step aside on efforts to settle a lawsuit filed by ARSAC to stop former Mayor James Hahn’s $11 billion airport plan.
City Council Rejects Bond Underwriting Plan for DWP
The Los Angeles City Council rejected a plan Tuesday to hire six underwriting firms to issue $1.8 billion in bonds at the Department of Water and Power, saying that smaller, California-based bond firms should receive a greater share of the work, the Daily Breeze reported. The council sent the financing plan back to the DWP commission, despite a warning from the city attorney that the action could be an illegal attempt to give minority-owned firms more of the work. Two of the six underwriting firms recommended by the DWP are minority-owned and based in California. But the DWP proposal would have given those firms a smaller share of the work than larger bond houses. The DWP is issuing the bonds to pay for a series of infrastructure projects.
Ruling May Cut Energy Refunds
U.S. energy regulators can’t force government utilities to repay electricity overcharges from the 2000-2001 energy crisis, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, a decision that could cut hundreds of millions of dollars from a refund sought for customers of California’s non-government power companies. California state officials expressed displeasure with the ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but didn’t say whether they would press the matter further, the Los Angeles Times reported. The ruling might knock $1 billion off the attorney general’s demand for $9 billion overall in refunds from an array of power-sellers. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has indicated that it may eventually order about $3 billion in refunds.
Katrina Affected Local Concerns
A quarter of employees at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems’ operations in Forest, Miss., reported to work over the weekend enough people to restart production of military airborne radar systems, the El Segundo-based company said. Hurricane Katrina’s destruction reached into the South Bay’s business community, which has operations in the Gulf Coast states hit by the devastation, the Daily Breeze reported. On Monday, Northrop Grumman Corp. said none of its shipyards knocked out by the hurricane would be operational before Sunday. Northrop employees are repairing the three shipyards. The company moved its command center from the destroyer Forrest Sherman to the Pascagoula headquarters of its Ship Systems sector.
Rents Reflect Tight Market
Escalating housing prices and tight supplies are driving up apartment rents and occupancy rates, with the San Fernando Valley having one of the tightest markets in L.A. County. Rents across the L.A./Long Beach area at the end of the year are expected to be 5 percent higher than at the end of 2004, with the occupancy rate creeping up three-tenths of a percent to 96.8 percent, said Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co. Rising home prices and an improving job market are expanding the number of renters, experts say, and new construction is not keeping pace with demand. Housing demand in the Valley is elevated, development activity is limited and thousands of new jobs are entering the market, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported.
Millions OK’d for Repairs at King/Drew
Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to spend $32 million to repair deteriorating facilities at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, including the removal of corroded sewer and steam pipes that leak water and waste into the hospital. The injection of cash to improve the hospital’s infrastructure comes as the county is also considering options to scale down the medical center or to hire a private contractor to provide services, the Los Angeles Times reported. County health officials described the money as evidence of their intention to keep open the hospital in Willowbrook. The hospital has been cited by federal inspectors after a series of patient lapses and deaths.
Studios Revamp International Joint Venture
Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures on Tuesday revamped their 24-year-old joint venture to distribute films internationally as each studio seeks more control over its movies in foreign markets, the companies announced. The deal doesn’t eliminate London-based United International Pictures, but substantially dismantles much of its operations. Both studios have increasingly soured on the joint venture, seeking to establish their own foreign distribution operations, the Los Angeles Times reported. Under the deal, the two will split United International’s operations in 15 countries. Each studio would then be free to build its own distribution operation in markets in which the other studio takes over the venture’s business.