Explaining Southern California's economy

New Dodger leadership: Will Friedman use Wall Street savvy to unload toxic team assets?

Kasten and Friedman

Ben Bergman/KPCC

Dodgers President and part-owner Stan Kasten (right) introduced Andrew Friedman, the team's new President of Baseball Operations

As we all know by now, the Dodgers, despite having the highest payroll in sports and another promising regular season – ended up with another disappointing exit from the playoffs.  On Friday, the team formally introduced Andrew Friedman, its new President of Baseball Operations, someone who the Dodgers hope can help them reach The World Series by using lessons he learned on Wall Street. 

Before becoming General Manager of The Tampa Bay Rays at the age of 28, Friedman spent three years in private equity and another two working for Bear Stearns, a firm that later imploded. 

"I think my experience in investment banking and private equity helped me a lot coming into the game," Friedman said Friday. "It helped me appreciate information is king, and there's no such thing as having too much information."

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Profit off your parking spot? Santa Monica could become latest city to ban it

San Francisco's Parking Ticket Fees To Become Nation's Most Expensive

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A row of parking meters line O'Farrell Street in San Francisco, California.

So you found a great place to park, and now you're about to leave. Should you be able to sell your public spot to the next desperate driver? A host of new apps could help you do it, but California city governments have typically responded by banning the practice soon after – or even before – it becomes available.

Santa Monica could become the latest city to prohibit the auctioning of public parking spots Tuesday night. The city's proposed ordinance is a response to an app called MonkeyParking that arrived unwelcome in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica back in August. 

The company says the app helps reduce the problem of drivers having to circle around the block; but a city of Santa Monica staff report, recommending passage of the new ordinance, points out traffic and parking problems that could accompany the app .

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405 traffic: A little slower after $1 billion upgrade

Over 35 Million Americans Expected To Travel For Memorial Day Weekend

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Traffic is shown creeping along on northbound I-405 in Los Angeles on May 27, 2011. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Los Angeles's 405 Freeway Closes Completely For Bridge Repair

David McNew/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA: One of the busiest freeways in California, the 405, stood vacant as workers demolished the south side of Mulholland overpass on the freeway during a 53-hour total freeway closure on July 16, 2011. The bridge was demolished as part of a $1 billion project to add carpool lanes and make other improvements along the 405 freeway from Orange County to the city of San Fernando. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Freeway Clears Out Ahead Of Major Repairs

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Crews shut down an on ramp to the Interstate 405 on Sepulveda Boluevard in the San Fernando Valley, advising motorists of the shutdown of the freeway to demolish the Mulholland Bridge over Interstate 405 at the Sepulveda Pass on July 15, 2011. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Freeway Clears Out Ahead Of Major Repairs

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Construction workers using heavy machinery begin demolishing the Mulholland Bridge over Interstate 405 at the Sepulveda Pass in the early hours of July 16, 2011 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


Transit agencies spent five years and more than a billion dollars improving a stretch of the 405 freeway, in a massive project that gave us the term "Carmageddon" as crews shut down the freeway to complete upgrades. But now, after opening one of the main achievements - a ten-mile carpool lane - it doesn't appear that traffic is moving any faster during rush hour.  In fact, one study suggests travel times have slowed a bit following all of the construction - by about a minute. 

INRIX, a traffic analysis firm, examined the Northbound 405 between the 10 and 101 freeways, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.  The study compared travel times from the middle two weeks of September, 2013 (with only a 1.7 mile stretch of the carpool lane open) to the same period this year (with the full 10-mile carpool lane in service for nearly five months.) The average travel time this September was 35 minutes, roughly a minute slower than last September. 

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LA Rent: Having trouble finding an apartment? Here's why

Vacancy Rate For U.S. Apartments Reaches Highest Rate In 20 Years

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Rents are rising, and economists expect them to keep rising, by more than 8 percent in L.A. and Orange County and by 10 percent in the Inland Empire by June of 2016.

In Los Angeles County, the vacancy rate dropped 10.8 percent in the one-year period ending in June, to just 3.3 percent. But that was nothing compared to the the recession-battered Inland Empire, where the number of available rental units plummeted by 30 percent, to a 3.8 percent vacancy rate, according to the 2014 USC Casden Multifamily Forecast from USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate.

Over 7,500 multifamily units were added in L.A. during the same period, which was a 62 percent increase over the year before; but it still wasn't enough to make a significant dent in the number of available apartments. 

With so few units available, it probably won't be a shock to hear rents are rising, and economists expect them to keep rising, by more than 8 percent in L.A. and Orange County and by 10 percent in the Inland Empire by June of 2016.

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Economists say LA's high-tech sector rivals Silicon Valley in providing jobs

Oblong Demo

Brian Watt/KPCC

A demo at Oblong Industries, which employs 75 people in downtown LA's Arts District. Oblong makes collaborative computer interfaces. Its CEO, John Underkoffler designed the computer interfaces seen in the movie "Minority Report".

A report released Monday says Los Angeles County now has more high-tech sector jobs than other well-known tech centers, including Santa Clara County (the heart of Silicon Valley), the Boston-Cambridge area, and the five boroughs of New York City. 

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) Institute for Applied Economics authored the report, with sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase.  It says that in 2013, the high-tech sector employed 368, 580 people in Los Angeles County.  Another 104,680 people were performing high-tech duties for companies outside the high-tech sector.

The jobs come from a wide range of industries, including aerospace, bio-pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consulting and software publishing.  "We (Los Angeles County) have a whole range of industries that are associated with high-tech," said LAEDC Vice President Christine Cooper, the study's lead author  "So it's not surprising to see that this a very large sector in our economy," Cooper told KPCC.  

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