Explaining Southern California's economy

Dockworkers contract at West Coast ports expires, but negotiations continue and cargo keeps moving

LA Port Strike

Brian Watt/KPCC

A strike by port clerical workers in 2012 idled trucks at the Port of Los Angeles

A labor contract covering about 20,000 dockworkers at west coast ports expired at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, but cargo continued to move, as negotiators on both sides said they'll keep talking on a new contract.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union (ILWU) have been in contract talks since May 12.  They issued a joint statement shortly after 5pm Tuesday: 

While there will be no contract extension, cargo will keep moving, and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached...Both sides understand the strategic importance of the ports to the local, regional and US economies, and are mindful of the need to finalize a new coast-wide contract as soon as possible to ensure continuing confidence in the West Coast ports and avoid any disruption to the jobs and commerce they support.  


Port of Long Beach will name Jon Slangerup as next Chief Executive

Jon Slangerup

courtesy Port of Long Beach

Jon Slangerup, a former executive with FedEx Canada, will run the Port of Long Beach

A former President of FedEx Canada has been recommended to run the Port of Long Beach.  

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is scheduled to vote Monday to name Jon W. Slangerup as the Port of Long Beach’s new Chief Executive. 

A statement announcing the selection called Slangerup "a veteran corporate executive with extensive experience in global logistics and environmental technologies."  

“With a strong operational and environmental track record, we’re confident that Jon can move us ahead as the Best Green Seaport in the world while providing experienced leadership in developing advanced cargo-handling technology and infrastructure,” said Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond in the statement.  

Slangerup will succeed former Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle, who left the port nearly a year ago for a similar position at the Port of Oakland.  The port's Chief Harbor Engineer Al Moro has served as Interim Executive Director since then. 

“We undertook a rigorous and thorough review process,” noted Commissioner Lori Ann Farrell, who chaired the Port’s search committee in a national review coordinated by executive search firm Boyden.  “In Jon we found the ideal combination of leadership, vision and execution that we need to take us strongly into the next decade.”


Why you should move to North Dakota: Los Angeles has most unaffordable housing in America

David McNew/Getty Images

According to a new Harvard study, L.A. recorded the second-highest increase in multifamily permits last year (17,700), behind only New York (30,000).

Another week, another study reminding us that living in Los Angeles comes at a very high cost. Housing is unaffordable for almost half of L.A.-area households, the highest percentage of any major city in the country, according to a new report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

In more positive news, the study also reported that L.A. had the second highest jump in permitting for single-family homes  last year (52 percent) of the nation's top 100 metro areas, trailing only Atlanta (62 percent). L.A. also recorded the second-highest increase in multifamily permits (17,700), behind only New York (30,000). Unfortunately, as I reported earlier this month, much of what's being built are expensive, high-end apartments.

The study used the standard measurement of affordability, which is calculating the percentage of households spending more than thirty percent of their paycheck on housing, a threshold that likely seems laughable for the quarter of households in L.A forking over more than half of their paychecks to pay for housing.


Film and TV tax credit bill clears a Senate committee

Photo by Horrortaxi via Flickr Creative Commons

A bill to expand and increase California's film tax credit has cleared its first state Senate panel.

It's still moving without a price tag, but the bill to expand California's Film and Television Tax Credit program passed its first test in the state senate on Wednesday. 

By a vote of 4-0, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved AB 1839, sponsored originally by Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima).  The chairwoman of the committee, Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), abstained. 

As the Hollywood Reporter points out, Wolk was expected at least to raise questions about the proposal, and she did. Saying that she didn't like "blank checks," Wolk highlighted the great unanswered question about the bill: just how much money do supporters want to add to California's annual pot of tax incentives offered to film and TV productions that shoot here?

The pot currently stands at $100 million dollars per year. Since New York State's offering is more than four times that amount - and since the California Film Commission receives way more applications for the credit than it can satisfy, most supporters believe it's far from enough.  But those supporters have pushed their proposal this far without declaring a dollar figure


Whitey Bulger: A lesson in the vanishing policy of rent control

Mercer 18971

Boston Police

An early mug shot shows James "Whitey" Bulger in 1953.

The tale of Whitey Bulger provides many lessons – how to finally capture a fugitive on the lam, it's only a matter of time before you get caught – but this week we learned a lesson that hits closer to home for many Southern California residents: The dramatic effect of someone leaving a rent-controlled apartment.

Bulger's rent was criminally low for a Santa Monica two-bedroom on a leafy street two blocks from the ocean, just $1,145 a month, per The Wall Street Journal. Now, according to Curbed, the same place – minus the storage space for guns and money in the wall – is going for $2,972 a month. 

The reason for the $1827 jump is that Bulger's apartment was rent-controlled, but only as long as he lived there. As I explained earlier this month, since 1999, after a tenant leaves their rent-controlled apartment in California, the landlord can usually charge whatever they want because of a 1995 state law, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.