Big Opportunities for 2017

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

2016 finished strong for the Los Angeles County economy. Employment during the year grew by 65,300 jobs and the unemployment rate declined to 5.1 percent. Voters expressed their willingness to invest in transportation (Measure M), housing (Measure HHH) and education (Measure CC) at the Nov. 8 election by 71.15 percent, 77.14 percent and 75.92 percent respectively. We have the opportunity to continue this positive economic momentum in 2017 if our voters and elected officials continue taking bold actions to build on these basic foundations. Here is how:

The City of L.A. must make modernizing its 37 community plans the highest priority at City Hall. These plans are so antiquated that almost every residential and commercial construction project of any size requires a plan amendment or a variance. The staff at City Hall should immediately start the planning and community outreach necessary to update these plans.

City of L.A. voters must reject Measure S on the March 7 ballot. Measure S would impose a construction moratorium on almost every significant project in the City. It would undermine Mayor Garcetti’s goal of building 100,000 new housing units and put thousands of construction workers out of a job.

L.A. County voters must approve Measure H on the March 7 ballot to increase the County sales tax by 1/4 of one cent in order to provide the services and facilities needed to address homelessness in the County. City of L.A. voters took a major step in November in passing Measure HHH, but that still leaves 60 percent of the County without the financial resources to address this huge problem.

The California Legislature must move steadily forward on Gov. Brown’s proposed Water Fix, which would protect the environmental habitat of the Bay Area Delta and insure the reliability of water supplies to Southern California and the Central Valley. A very positive Environmental Impact Report on the California Water Fix was released in December. The time to prepare for implementation is now.

The Governor and the Legislature must finally take action on California’s crumbling highway system. L.A. County legislators should lead the charge and push for opportunities for the County and the cities within the County to leverage local transportation dollars to generate more transportation funding from Sacramento.

These five major actions would improve both the economy and the quality of life in the City and County of L.A. I encourage all of our members to join with the Chamber in championing these bold steps during 2017. Together, we can make “Happy New Year” a greeting that can be used for more than the first two weeks of the year.

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