Explaining Southern California's economy

Fight to control Ontario International Airport heads to court

L.A./Ontario International Airport

David McNew/Getty Images

The City of Ontario has filed a legal claim to gain control over the L.A./Ontario International Airport. (L.A./ Ontario International Airport. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

A Superior Court judge could rule Friday on whether decades-old agreements that give the city of Los Angeles control over Ontario International Airport (ONT) should be thrown out or fixed.

The city of Ontario has sought to regain ownership of the Inland Empire airport for years. Last year, it took that quest to court. Its lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles says a 1967 Joint Powers Agreement and a 1985 deed transfer that gave L.A. ownership of ONT should be rescinded, or at least revised to include an end date.

Passenger traffic at Ontario Airport fell 40 percent, from 7.2 million passengers in 2007 to nearly 4 million in 2012.  Ontario officials are quick to point out that it wasn't just due to the recession. They accuse Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the agency that oversees Ontario and LAX, of mismanagement and neglect.

Read More...

Minimum wage: A deli owner says a hike could put him out of business

GREENBLATTS 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Greenblatt's owner Jeff Kavin is opposed to the proposed minimum wage increase in Los Angeles. “It threatens to derail us,” he said.

GREENBLATTS 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Greenblatt's is an institution in Hollywood, but the proposed minimum wage increase would adversely affect the bottom line, owner Jeff Kavin said.

GREENBLATTS 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Chris Walsh serves a famous pastrami sandwich to Julia Batavia and Alison Govelitz at Greenblatt's in Hollywood. The proposed minimum wage increase in Los Angeles would adversely affect the business, considering the deli is open until 2 a.m. every day and the food takes a lot of time to prepare, owner Jeff Kavin said.

GREENBLATTS 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Alex Hilhorst, left, with Julia Batavia and Alison Govelitz sit down for dinner at Greenblatt's in Hollywood.

GREENBLATTS 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Matt Destephano serves up whipped yams at Greenblatt's in Hollywood.

GREENBLATTS 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Customers sit for dinner at Greenblatt's in Hollywood.

GREENBLATTS 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Over the years Greenblatt's has made incremental changes, one being the addition of a wine cellar.


This is one of two personal stories on the potential effects of increasing the minimum wage. To hear the perspective from a worker making minimum wage click here.

Greenblatt’s Deli-Restaurant and Fine Wine Shop has been serving up pastrami on rye on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood since Calvin Coolidge was President.

“Just about anyone you can imagine has wandered in to Greenblatt’s,” owner Jeff Kavin said. “You turn around and there’s Paul McCartney buying a sandwich.”

Its website boasts a quote from the San Francisco Weekly saying it served "The Best Sandwich on Earth." Three generations of Kavin's family have run the restaurant. He said in all that time, Greenblatt’s survival has never been as threatened as it now.

On Labor Day, Mayor Eric Garcetti called for Los Angeles’ minimum wage to jump to $13.25 per hour by 2017. About a month later, a group of city council members upped the ante, calling for a $15.25 increase by 2019.

Read More...

Sharp jump in data breaches: 18.5 million Californians affected last year, new report says

The sign in front of a Target store in Novato, Calif.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Two massive incidents involving Target and LivingSocial put the personal information of more than 7.5 million California residents at risk last year.

The number of reported data breaches in California shot up by 28 percent, from 131 in 2012 to 167 last year, according to a report released Tuesday by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

It found that the records of 18.5 million Californians were affected by breaches last year. That's a 600 percent increase from the year before, though the numbers are skewed by two massive incidents involving Target and LivingSocial, which put the personal information of more than 7.5 million California residents at risk. Without those breaches, the number of records affected would have been 3.5 million, a more modest 35 percent increase over 2012.

This is the second year Harris has released information about data breaches, after a 2012 amendment required companies to report to her office any breach involving more than 500 Californians.  

Read More...

Charitable contributions slip post-recession; least wealthy among most generous, UCLA study finds

money dollars bills change coins

Photo by Bill Dickinson via Flickr Creative Commons

A newly released study by the UCLA Center for Civil Society shows charitable giving in Los Angeles County is 12 percent lower than it was before the recession.

The economy may be in recovery, but Angelenos still aren’t giving as much to charity as they were before the Great Recession, according to a report released Tuesday by the UCLA Center for Civil Society. Researchers found that many of those still making donations come from the least wealthy areas of Los Angeles County.

Since 2002, the Center has studied the non-profit sector in Los Angeles for an annual report. In 2006, the year before the recession, Los Angeles County residents reported deducting $6.94 billion for charitable contributions.  By 2008, that amount had fallen by more than a $1 billion.  There has been some rebound, but the study says in 2012 - the most recent year the tax records were available - charitable giving was 12 percent lower than it was before the recession.

"There's still lagging giving among the middle class and among the wealthy, which has seen large gains in incomes and assets.," says Center director Bill Parent.  "We haven't seen a similar rise in contributions to charity." 

Read More...

'Sideways': 10 years later, hit film still makes waves in Santa Ynez Valley economy

HP Partners Photo Op

Brian Watt/KPCC

Hitching Post partners Frank Ostini and Gray Hartley pose in the spot where thousands of tourists have snapped pictures since "Sideways"was released in 2004.

Frank Ostini

Brian Watt/KPCC

Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post inspects fermenting grapes at the Terravant Wine Company facility in Buellton, CA. Hitching Post is one of dozens of wineries in Santa Ynez Valley to use the Terravant facility.

Newton inspects

Brian Watt

Vineyard Manager Jeff Newton inspects syrah vines on Kimsey Estate vineyard. Kimsey Estate is one of several newer vineyards that Newton's company manages in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Stage Coach Tours

Brian Watt

Eric John Reynolds (left) and Tom Darwin of Stagecoach wine tours in the Santa Ynez Valley. The tour company started in 2000 and has expanded since "Sideways."

Sideways Iris Rideau

Brian Watt/KPCC

Iris Rideau, owner of Rideau Vineyard, began selling bulk wine in growlers after the recession left her with more wine than she could bottle.

Flying Goat pour

Brian Watt/KPCC

At the Flying Goat Cellars Tasting Room in Lompoc, wine-maker Norm Yost pours Pinot Noir for Dave Sills, a wine merchant from Fort Mill, SC

Grapes in hand

Brian Watt

Syrah grapes left over from the 2014 harvest in Santa Ynez Valley.

Hitching Post front

Brian Watt

The Hitching Post in Buellton was already a successful local restaurant before "Sideways", but the film made it an important stop for tourists.


Ten years after the premiere of “Sideways,” the region where the film is set continues to feel its impact. 

The independent movie about two middle-aged men drinking and misbehaving their way through Santa Barbara wine country opened in limited release in October 2004 and went on to became a surprise hit, grossing more than $71 million at the box office. It was also a boon to the then fledgling winemaking industry in the Santa Ynez Valley and a boost to tourism in the region.  

“Agriculture and tourism are really two of the big industries that are still important in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast, and wineries live right in the middle of those two,” says Josh Williams, president of Carlsbad-based BW Research, which studies the job market for the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board.  

Read More...