Explaining Southern California's economy

CityLab 2014: The sharing economy takes center stage in LA

CityLab 2014

Ben Bergman/KPCC

From left to right: Ronald Brownstein, Editorial Director, Atlantic Media; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre speak on a panel about immigration at CityLab 2014.

Over the last three days, hundreds of leaders from cities around the world have converged in Los Angeles to share ideas at the CityLab: Urban Solutions to Global Challenges conference.

The event attracted mayors from as far away as Israel and Greece and as nearby as Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, spoke about how his city has opened its doors to immigrants. Like most speakers at the program, he believes cities are where all the action is these days.

“I tell people if you don’t want to spend your whole life changing the world, come work in cities,” Reed told a lunchtime audience Tuesday. “We know our country’s GDP, 70 percent-plus is in cities and we know our population centers, 70 percent plus are in metros.”

It has been just a year since the first CityLab conference was held in New York, but much has changed since then, said April Rinne, whose title is Sharable Cities Advisor.


Who have been the winners and losers in the Dodgers TV dispute?

Kershow Shutout in SF

Getty Images

Opening Day has come and gone. So has the All-Star Game, a pair of no-hitters, and a pennant race. Through it all the Dodgers have been invisible to most Southern California cable subscribers

In March, Dodgers President Stan Kasten told me that Sportsnet LA would be widely available by Opening Day, if not before.

“We remain optimistic that in short order we’re going to have full coverage throughout the market because it’s something this incredibly deep and loyal fan base wants to have,” Kasten predicted. 

Opening Day has come and gone. So has the All-Star Game, a pair of no-hitters, and a pennant race. Through it all the Dodgers have been invisible to most of Southern California TV viewers because Time Warner Cable still hasn't been able to make deals with any major providers. Dodger fans have been the biggest losers, but there have also been some winners. 



Time Warner was hoping enough DirecTV customers would cancel their subscriptions that the satellite provider would be forced to capitulate to Time Warner's demands. It didn't happen. DirecTV saw fewer cancellations than it expected and found many sympathetic customers who bought the company's argument that it was trying to hold the line against higher pay-TV bills. 


FAA decision paves way for drone use in US films; allows 6 production companies to use drones in filming


Photo by Vince LoPresti via Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration will allow six production companies to fly drones for the purpose of shooting films, television shows or other video products.

The decision, announced Thursday by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, is the first step to allowing the film and television industry to use drones — or "unmanned aircraft systems" in the National Airspace System. 

"There has been a lot of interest around this technology lately, and I have determined that using unmanned aircraft for this purpose does not pose a risk to national airspace users," Secretary Foxx said on a conference call.

"We're introducing unmanned aircraft into America's airspace incrementally and with the interest of safety first," said FAA administrator Huerta."This process opens up a whole new avenue for companies and organizations wishing to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into their business." 


InterContinental will operate new Wilshire Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles

Lobby Bar of Wilshire grand rendering

AC Martin/Wilshire Grand Project

Rendering of a the lobby bar at the future Wilshire Grand hotel in downtown Los Angeles

WG SKY LOBBY rendering

AC Martin/Wilshire Grand Project

A rendering of the "sky lobby" at the future Wilshire Grand hotel. It will be located on the 70th floor of the building.

Future Wilshire Grand entrance

AC Martin/Wilshire Grand Project

A rendering of the front of the future Wilshire Grand Hotel

World record for largest concrete pour in history

Alice Walton/KPCC

Workers at the site of the future Wilshire Grand tower set a world record for largest concrete pour in history on Sunday, Feb. 16.

Developers of the Wilshire Grand project in downtown Los Angeles announced Tuesday that InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) will operate the 900-room hotel included in the $1.1 billion project. 

"Deconstruction" of the old historic Wilshire Grand Hotel began nearly two years ago under the watch of new owners Korean Air and Hanjin Group. Earlier this year, more than 200 trucks poured the concrete foundation of what will become technically the tallest building in the western United States.  In addition to the hotel, it will include 400,000 square feet of office space. 

The hotel - set to open in 2017 - will have a "sky lobby" located on the 70th floor of the building. At 900 rooms, it will become the largest InterContinental hotel in the Americas region.  

"The InterContinental brand is well-respected by world travelers and embodies the luxury experience we intend to provide at the Wilshire Grand," said Heather Cho, vice president of Hanjin International in a statement. "IHG recognized the potential of this significant project and that was important in our decision." 


West Coast Ports: Contract talks continue...and so does the flow of goods

containers maersk ship port of los angeles long beach san pedro

Photo by Izabela Reimers via Flickr Creative Commons

Cargo continues to move through West Coast ports

It’s been almost three months since a labor contract that covers dockworkers at the Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and 27 others on the West Coast expired.  But negotiations on a new contract continue, and so does the flow goods. 

Neither the International Longshore and Warehouse Union nor the Pacific Maritime Association has raised the possibility of a strike or lock-out. About a month ago, both sides announced they’d reached a tentative agreement on one of the most contentious issues on the table — health benefits. But both sides have been quiet since then.

"This year’s negotiations, although they’re longer, have been quieter and seem to be much friendlier talks than…maybe ever," said Port of Long Beach spokesman Art Wong.

Wong says cargo volumes at his port slipped a little in August after surging from April through June,  when shippers were expediting imports ahead of the labor contract’s expiration.