Explaining Southern California's economy

As big data gets bigger, GIS marketers' place on the map expands

GIS TECH 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department Battalion Chief Ivan Rojer, left, and Deputy Chief Mike Costello demonstrate the geographic information system they use to track fire trucks and identify areas in the city with a high volume of calls for service.

GIS TECH 002

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Light poles along the Pacific Electric Trail are numbered and logged in the City of Rancho Cucamonga's geographic information system. If a person calls 911 along the trail, the dispatcher will request the number from the nearest light pole, which will allow emergency responders to exactly locate the individual.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department Battalion Chief Ivan Rojer demonstrates the capabilities of their geographic information system to track first responders and organize resources. The days of drawing out a response plan on a map are over, Rojer said.

GIS TECH 004

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department Battalion Chief Ivan Rojer checks the status of an emergency call on the city's geographic information system.

Esri: San Diego map

Courtesy Esri

An Esri visualization of median income by population density for San Diego County.


When Starbucks is deciding where to put a new location…when the World Health Organization needs to find out where polio is still a threat…when a city wants to know if its planned new convention center is in a flood zone…they all use maps.

Of course, the maps have gotten a lot more advanced and accessible.  Google and GPS providers have put interactive maps at our fingertips and in our cars' dashboards. The term for computerized mapping and all that comes with it is "GIS" for Geographical Information Systems.   Over the years, the market for "GIS" software alone has grown to between $3 and $4 billion per year.

Thousands of data locations... in Rancho Cucamonga

The city of Rancho Cucamonga has a GIS budget of a $1.1 million per year.  A GIS staff of 10 to 12 provides layered maps of everything from fire zones to sidewalk cracks to banners saluting military service personnel. It's mapped the campuses of local schools, with 360-degree photo pans of classrooms. The maps come up on tablet and computer screens in offices, fire trucks, and the Chevy suburban driven by Fire Department Battalion Chief Ivan Rojer.  

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Landing on the ballot: 2 Santa Monica Airport measures

Santa Monica Airport 3

Ken Scarboro/KPCC

Neighbors of Santa Monica Airport have complained about noise from the aircraft taking off and landing, and they post signs asking pilots to fly quietly.

Voters in Santa Monica will play air traffic controllers in November, as two competing measures regarding the Santa Monica Airport will appear on the ballot. 

The Santa Monica City Council this week finalized language for a measure that would give the city more control over the airport - including the ability to close it - though a public vote would be required for any major redevelopment. It will appear on the ballot this way:

Shall the City Charter be amended to:  1) prohibit new development on Airport land, except for parks, public open spaces and public recreational facilities, until the voters approve limits on the uses and development that may occur on the land; and 2) affirm the City  Council’s authority to manage the Airport and to close all or part of it.

As the Santa Monica Daily Press reports, that measure will go "head to head" with one supported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and other proponents of keeping the airport open. Its ballot title:

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California film and TV tax credits: What happens to productions that don’t receive them?

Hilton Files Plans For Initial Public Offering

Scott Olson/Getty Images

A film crew shoots in front of the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue on September 12, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

A report released Wednesday by the California Film Commission suggests that while the state's film and TV tax incentive has been very popular, its success is limited by its size.

For the last five years, California has been trying hard to keep film and TV production in the state because other states and countries have been luring production away with tax incentives. In 2009, the Golden State started a tax incentive program of its own that offers up to $100 million per year in credits to certain productions that agree to shoot in the state.

The film commission’s latest annual progress report runs the numbers on every year of the program. For example, 71 TV and film projects got the tax credit last year. The report estimates those productions spent $1.1 billion in the state and hired 7,500 crew members, nearly 4,000 actors, and 96,000 background actors.

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Always wanted to run onto the field with USC players? You can, for $1,500

Mercer 9923

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

USC is now offering season ticket holders the chance to run onto the field with players.

Have you always dreamed of running through the storied Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum tunnel onto the field in front of 70,000-plus roaring fans before a University of Southern California football game? Up until now, you usually had to play or coach for the team to have this "once in a lifetime experience," as the school calls it.

Now you can do it for $1,500, as long as you're a USC season-ticket holder. If that's too pricey, consider the pre-game locker room tour for $1,000, or a pre-game photo with the "World Famous" USC Song Girls for $750. (Added bonus: The money is considered a donation, so it's tax-deductible, but that's a different story.) 

USC recently started selling these experiences and more for its upcoming season, but at least one former player says they commoditize something that shouldn't have a price tag.

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Increase in rent control fee goes to Santa Monica voters

Home Prices Drop To Lowest Level Since 2006

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Santa Monica residents will vote on a measure in November that would increase the registration fee landlords pay to cover the city's rent control board administrative costs, from $174.96 to a maximum of $288 a year. The measure would also force landlords to cover up to half the fee, rather than pass it along to their tenants, as they were allowed to do until last year.

The board says without the increase it faces a $36,000 deficit next fiscal year, which would balloon to $150,000, then close to half a million dollars after that. 

"The rent control law is not self-executing, and its administration is not free," Santa Monica Rent Control Board's General Counsel, Stephen Lewis, wrote in a memo to the city council recommending that they vote to put the measure on the ballot, which they did last week. 

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