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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023

Morning Headlines

Villaraigosa Plans City Budget Cuts

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa plans to order budget cuts after he takes office to counter ballooning expenditures that could put the city in dire financial straits, the Los Angeles Times reported. Villaraigosa discussed his plans even as city department heads have asked for more money for some programs. The mayor-elect voiced his concern after receiving a warning from City Administrative Officer Bill Fujioka, who said that spending could outpace revenue by $942 million over the four years. Villaraigosa did not set out specific plans for reducing spending or increasing revenue, but he said departments would have to “start scaling back a bit.”

L.A. Low in Foreclosures

For the second consecutive month, the Los Angeles metropolitan area recorded the lowest foreclosure rate of the country’s top five markets during May, an industry tracker said Wednesday. Last month, the L.A. metro area had one property in some stage of the foreclosure process for every 4,242 households, less than half the national rate. Nationally, one home out of every 1,853 households was in foreclosure. The low local rate is not surprising, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Housing prices at near-record levels give homeowners the option of either refinancing or selling at a profit. Foreclosures in Los Angeles County accounted for 21 percent of California’s activity. The county average was still below the state’s average.

Port Panel Decision Closes Pipeline

Rejecting a City Council committee request to delay action, Los Angeles harbor commissioners voted Wednesday to pull the plug on a pipeline permit for AmeriGas Propane. The pipeline, which runs from the AmeriGas storage tanks to Berth 120, is used to export excess butane to Latin America and China. The operation has long been of concern to San Pedro residents, who say the flammable material poses a risk to the community. On Tuesday, Councilwoman Janice Hahn cast the dissenting vote in the 2-1 decision that asked commissioners to delay action canceling the permit to give the company and officials more time to relocate the facility, the Daily Breeze reported.

City Panel Neutral on Renewal of Landfill

The City Council’s Environment and Waste Management Committee opted Wednesday not to take a position on a proposed five-year trash-disposal contract renewal with Sunshine Canyon Landfill, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Councilwoman Jan Perry, who heads the committee, said she would forward the contract motion to the City Council without a recommendation. The Budget and Finance Committee voted Tuesday to support the contract renewal, over the objections of Granada Hills activists who urged the city to send its trash elsewhere. Opponents of the dump have pushed the city to cut ties to the site.

Council Reduces Housing Density

Moving to limit traffic congestion and other problems, the Burbank City Council has approved zoning changes reducing allowable development in some residential areas, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The council voted 4-0 Tuesday to reduce by nearly 30 percent the number of units that property owners in areas designated for multifamily housing can put on their sites. Such sites make up 20 percent of the city’s residential areas. There are now 43,400 units in the city. Under the newly adopted regulations, the maximum number of units the city can have is 51,000, compared with 55,700 previously.

Senator Rebukes Getty

Amid national attention to excesses at non-profits, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has rebuked the board of the J. Paul Getty Trust, saying it has failed to curb Chief Executive Barry Munitz’s lavish pay, perks and travel. “Charities shouldn’t be funding their executives’ gold-plated lifestyles,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said this week in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. His committee is considering the first major overhaul of laws governing non-profit organizations in 30 years. Grassley said he’s “concerned that the Getty board has been spending more time watching old episodes of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ than doing its job of protecting Getty’s assets for charitable purposes.” None of the Getty’s staff or 12 trustees would comment Wednesday.

Brad Pitt Moves Firm to Paramount Pictures

Actor Brad Pitt, as expected, moved his Plan B production company from Warner Bros. to Paramount Pictures, now headed by his former producing partner and manager Brad Grey. Grey and Pitt founded Plan B along with actress Jennifer Aniston, who has filed for divorce from Pitt. Although the company is now solely owned by Pitt, Aniston will continue to be involved in a number of Plan B projects remaining at Warner. The new agreement gives Paramount the first look at Plan B projects over the next three years, the Los Angeles Times reported. Plan B is headed by President Dede Gardner.

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