70.3 F
Los Angeles
Friday, Jul 1, 2022

Proof of City’s Commitment Will Be in Timely Payments

Proof of City’s Commitment Will Be in Timely Payments

By Howard Fine

During the L.A. mayoral campaign, local businesses aired two major complaints about doing business in the city: developers bemoaned interminable delays in the permitting process, and small minority business owners didn’t want to do business with the city because they didn’t think they would get paid in a timely manner.

L.A. Mayor James Hahn has taken steps to address both concerns. On Nov. 16, Hahn promised that city agencies would pay vendors within 30 days of receiving invoices. Four days later, Hahn introduced a “money-back guarantee” program for routine permits involving small residential and business construction projects that are not issued within 60 minutes of initial applications.

Hahn spokeswoman Julie Wong said the guarantee covers 70 percent of all permit applications and is the first in a series of steps designed to expedite permits.

Will city agencies follow through?

“Typically, cities make these commitments and then don’t follow through with timely payments,” said Nevin Sanli, president of Sanli, Pastori & Hill Inc., a West L.A. firm that helps businesses facing eminent domain seizures by local government agencies. “The bill often stays on someone’s desk who’s on vacation and then it doesn’t carry to the next person.”

Sanli said he is more encouraged by the permit program, though. “If they don’t follow through, then they’ve got to issue refunds. That will call attention to them and hold them accountable.”

Business Tax Amnesty

Speaking of doing business in L.A., last week marked the halfway point for the city’s business tax amnesty program. So far, collections are running nearly triple the pace of the last amnesty program in 1995. Antoinette Christobal, director of the Office of Finance, said the city had taken in $1.4 million through Nov. 9, compared with $550,000 during the first half of the 1995 program.

“We’ve got a more aggressive media campaign this time,” Christobal said.

The lion’s share of the collections is expected to come in the last couple of weeks, as was the case with the 1995 program, which reaped $20 million. Christobal said new ads would be launched this week touting the city’s new power to use state income tax files to go after scofflaws, which should boost the collection rate.

Biomed Mission

Former Assembly Speaker and L.A. mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa has been recruited to reinvigorate the effort to build a 100-acre biomedical research and industrial park near County-USC Medical Center.

That effort stalled this summer because of the county’s unwillingness to consider relocating the Juvenile Justice facility that sits in the middle of the 100-acre site. County Supervisor Gloria Molina is leading the opposition to the project, citing a recent study that it would cost $200 million to relocate the juvenile hall.

Villaraigosa was brought into the project by co-chairs Eli Broad and USC President Steven Sample. He will be charged with softening up Molina and using his Sacramento ties to obtain funds to relocate the Juvenile Justice facility.

He’ll need all the influence he can muster considering the looming $14 billion state budget deficit. In a recent interview, Villaraigosa said he might cast a wider net for funds, such as a local bond measure or federal funds.

Meantime, even project proponents admit that immediate progress is unlikely.

“(Villaraigosa) is well-connected at the state level and has friends at the federal level. But it’s obviously a tall order to get that facility moved, and without that happening, this project really isn’t viable,” said Ahmed Enany, president of the Southern California Biomedical Council.

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

Featured Articles

Related Articles