Originally posted at www.FoxandHoundsDaily.com
Gary Toebben is the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
I am often asked what the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce means when we say that the City of Los Angeles needs to be more business friendly. On the City Council’s agenda today is a blatant example of why Los Angeles has the reputation of being unfriendly to business. The issue is the Walmart Interim Control Ordinance (ICO).
Walmart played by the rules and followed every city process and regulation in its desire to open up one of its Neighborhood Markets in Chinatown. They met all the requirements to renovate a long-vacant retail space and open their store “by right.” Yet at the 11th hour, at the behest of labor organizations, an ICO was introduced in an effort to specifically exclude Walmart from moving into that space.
Here is a business that will occupy a store front that has been empty for more than 20 years. Here is a business that will bring a grocery store to a residential neighborhood where residents currently travel a significant distance to buy groceries for their families. Here is a business that will create jobs in a community that needs them, and generate sales taxes to fund a city that has been cutting critical public services. Here is a business that followed all the rules and earned the support of the City’s Planning Department and Planning Commission. These same land use experts also recommended disapproval of the ICO that will be in front of the City Council today because given all of the facts; they found no justification for the ICO.
Any business considering Los Angeles needs to know that if they follow the rules they will be treated fairly. And they need the certainty that if they do what is asked by law, the City will not change the rules at the last minute to appease a special interest. Introduction of the ICO has damaged the City Council’s integrity, inflamed the business community and reinforced the City’s negative reputation to the outside world.
The members of the City Council have a chance to right the course today and send a clear message to every business in our city. If you play by the rules, you will be treated fairly.
Not sending that message will damage the City’s reputation for years to come. It will guarantee fewer jobs and an endless string of proposals to raise taxes. The vote today is not just about one business; it is about every business in Los Angeles and the future of our city.