Explaining Southern California's economy

Nearly $5 billion allotted for new LAX concourse and connector train projects

LAX airplane

Photo by Alan Wilson via Flickr Creative Commons

LAX is on pace to set a passenger record in 2014

The commission that oversees Los Angeles International Airport voted Thursday to advance two major projects designed to modernize the airport and improve the passage of travelers. 

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners awarded a nearly $1 billion contract for the design and construction of a new "Midfield Satellite Concourse." The concourse will add 11 gates at LAX, and the gates will be able to accommodate large aircraft like the Airbus A380. 

The new 5-level concourse will be located 1,300 feet west of the airport's Tom Bradley International Terminal, currently undergoing a $2 billion expansion.  An underground tunnel will connect the midfield concourse to the Bradley terminal. 

"LAX is experiencing the fastest and greatest growth of any airport in the region, and there appears to be no cessation of it," said Jack Keady, an aviation consultant based in Playa Del Rey. "We've seen quite a few more foreign carriers coming into LAX in the past several years, so we want to have the appropriate number of wide-body international gates." 

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537 face layoffs as Boeing winds down C-17 cargo plane production

Mercer 3877

Brian Watt/KPCC

The Boeing C-17 plant in Long Beach employed 5,000 people, but production of the cargo plane is winding down.

Some 537 workers at Boeing facilities in Long Beach, Huntington Beach and El Segundo will be laid off as the aerospace company winds down production of the C-17 Globemaster for the U.S. government.

  • The layoffs begin on Friday, when 139 jobs will be eliminated at the three locations, according to the California Employment Development Department.  
  • They continue on on New Year's Day, 2015, when another 221 jobs are slated to end.
  • The final 177 follow about three weeks later.

Long Beach has borne the heaviest load. The 2,200 Californians who worked on the cargo plane have known since September of last year that production would end some time next year.  Last April, Boeing announced it would likely end a few months earlier than planned

Since then, layoffs have been steady in Long Beach. Some 227 Boeing jobs ended on Nov. 21, and one of them belonged to structure mechanic George Burden, who helped build the floors of the C-17 planes.

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Blame 'suburb syndrome': LA home price increases outpace other metropolitan areas

Los Angeles Apartments

John Williams PHD/Flickr

UCLA researchers say if we want cheaper housing, we’ll have to accept living a little closer to our neighbors.

Since the turn of the century, Los Angeles home prices have skyrocketed 121 percent - more than any metropolitan area in the country, according to numbers out today from the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast.

Not adjusting for inflation, Washington saw a 105 percent jump, San Diego 101 percent, San Francisco 89 percent, New York 73 percent, Seattle 67 percent, Dallas 39 percent and Chicago 25 percent.

All of those cities built more houses in the 21st century than Los Angeles did.

"We argue that one possible reason is that some Angelenos, especially rich ones, have a suburban mentality," UCLA economist William Yu said in his report. "This mentality propels them to make efforts to maintain the current status quo and go against developing their neighborhoods with higher-density housing, even near the Metro rail system." 

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Tech industry diversity: How candidates are taking the challenge personally

Arvia Glass

Matt Kam

28-year-old Arvia Glass thought computer science was too complicated but is now studying web development.

Elizabeth Wendling, right, and app developer Sequoia Blodgett talk apps and coding at a "Meet and Hire" event at General Assembly in Santa Monica.

Ryan Meyer

Brian Watt/KPCC

Ryan Meyer of General Assembly


When the Rev. Jesse Jackson takes the dais at the "Next Steps for Technology" conference at tech giant Intel's Santa Clara offices on Wednesday, he will again sound the call for the tech industry to diversify its workforce, which remains overwhelmingly white and male.

In a statement previewing Wednesday's event, Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH coalition said, "There is much more work to be done to meet the challenge of transforming the tech industry to resemble the America it depends upon for talent and customers."

But there are people who want to take up that challenge: People of color, women. People like 28-year old Arvia Glass, an African-American woman and Los Angeles native, who wants to build a career in the virtual reality field, or as a web developer or someone who makes apps.

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Downtown fire: Is developer Geoffrey Palmer destroying downtown or a hero?

Downtown LA Fire - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.

Geoffrey Palmer, the wealthy developer of the seven-story apartment complex that burned to the ground in a massive fire early Monday morning, has been a controversial and even reviled figure in Los Angeles. The popular real estate blog Curbed LA recently called him "the man destroying downtown L.A." 

"Developer Geoff Palmer has built more apartments in Downtown Los Angeles than anyone else (more than 3,000) and they're all f--king terrible," Curbed posted two weeks ago and added even more biting criticism:

His squat, nearly-identical fortresses, with embarrassing names like the Visconti and the Medici, aren't just ugly (although they are very ugly), they're vacuums designed to suck the life out of a neighborhood that has worked so hard to become lively in the past decade.

Palmer is the subject of a now very timely feature story by Marc Haefele in this month's Los Angeles Magazine, which says Palmer's downtown real estate portfolio is worth $3 billion, and he has built at least one new building downtown – and often more – in six of the past 12 years. 

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