The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for Los Angeles. Collectively, we are facing enormous challenges -- mandatory closures, disrupted supply chains, stifled consumer spending, new employee policies and ever-changing government guidelines and legislation. This crisis shows the vulnerabilities of our economy and underscores the need to strengthen our city's economic development agenda with an emphasis on supporting job creators. This is critical, as we are reaching all-time highs for unemployment claims. Employment is the foundation for our economic stability.
To improve the economy and protect the well-being of Angelenos, we believe that we need to concentrate on three areas: Supporting Economic Stability Amid the Crisis, Ensuring Sustainable Crisis Recovery and Advancing Long-term Economic Viability. CCA partnered with other business organizations in the region to outline an advocacy plan that builds on our city's successes and helps LA stay open for business with good jobs that support families.
Supporting Economic Stability Amid the Crisis
COVID-19 has caused a sharp decrease of economic activity -- from drastically reduced tourism to forced closures of entertainment venues, restaurants and bars to cancelled events. This results in a loss of jobs which then causes a negative chain reaction that financially constrains individuals, families, business owners, property owners and lenders. We need immediate and increased government action to bring back economic stability, which means minimizing obstacles and costs for businesses to survive. To provide stability, CCA recommends:
- Minimizing Various Costs and Regulations: There are many fees that can be reduced that would help businesses during this difficult time and accelerate investment in our city, including Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) payments, waste hauling fees and impact fees. Regulations that slow down business activity can be lifted such as removing barriers to acquiring and renewing Conditional Use Permits, defraying utility costs and shutoffs, and easing Building and Safety processes. We are pleased that several of these ideas have already been presented by the City Council, and urge them to quickly advance these motions.
- Establishing Partnerships to Receive Maximum Stimulus Funds: The business and civic community, unions and trade organizations, and educational institutions should be organized so that Los Angeles is poised to gain maximum philanthropic and federal funding that supports businesses operations and infrastructure projects.
Ensuring Sustainable Crisis Recovery
CCA is proactively working with our members and government partners to support the transition from crisis response to crisis recovery. Even while we are in the thick of this crisis, it is important to make businesses feel confident about reopening and staying in LA so they can continue to employ people. To support the recovery of our local economy, CCA recommends:
- Partnering with the County and City to Support the Development of a COVID-19 Recovery Task Force: We are supporting the efforts by our elected leaders to convene business and civic leaders from a broad range of industries to help guide important conversations on our region's economic development goals. CCA launched a COVID-19 DTLA Task Force that will support the work of this broader group by the City and County.
- Providing Reasonable Timeframes for Businesses to Catch up on Costs: Property owners will have more time to catch up on outstanding costs from deferred rents if the City implements extensions for regulations such as seismic retrofit requirements.
- Advancing Long-Range Planning: It is more important than ever to move forward on critical plans, such as the Housing Element, Community Plans and Specific Plans, which will set the stage for future growth and investment. Statewide legislation should be adopted to advance these important items without CEQA review and to increase by-right development. This will also be an important effort to preserve municipal planning resources to do catalytic work while government budgets are constrained and furloughs and hiring freezes are imposed.
Advancing Long-term Economic Viability
We need to learn from this crisis, recognize the weaknesses that were exposed in our economy and adopt policies in order to be better prepared for weathering future crises. We know we are heading into a recession and our local government will need to act strategically to fully realize its capacity and leverage public funds.To position Los Angeles for long-term economic viability, CCA recommends:
- Promoting Public-Private Partnerships: A City entity should be created to cultivate public-private partnerships to develop city infrastructure including parks, affordable housing, smart technology and supportive housing for homeless individuals. They should also focus on upgrading our sidewalks and streets to make them more walkable and accommodate a variety of transportation modes. Local residents can be the first to be hired to do this work.
- Leveraging the Power of Healthcare Providers: This pandemic magnifies the value of public health and quality medical centers. The city's major healthcare providers should be supported to develop a comprehensive plan to expand healthcare capacity. Workforce Investment Funds should be targeted to bolster this important industry and train the local employment base.
- Partnering with Employers: The city's largest employers -- companies that are critical to the labor force and tax revenues that fund essential services -- need to be engaged to determine strategies to support their sustainability. There should be incentive packages for companies that employ more than 500 individuals in Los Angeles.
We realize this is an uncertain and challenging time, but we also know Los Angeles is resilient. We are proud to partner with the business and civic community to strategize innovative ways for our region to remain a vibrant place where people can thrive. We look forward to working with all of you and are grateful for your steadfast commitment to Los Angeles.