Explaining Southern California's economy

For California, Bank of America settlement might not be as good as it seems

Bank of America Settlement

Mark Lennihan/AP

California guaranteed at least $500 million in consumer relief credits as part of a settlement with Bank of America.

Bank of America reached the largest government settlement in American history Thursday, worth $16.5 billion. But for California, the deal might not be as good as it seems. 

The money is divided into two pots; The Golden State gets $300 million in damages. That reimburses the state’s pension funds for bad investments on mortgage-backed securities.

California is also guaranteed at least $500 million in consumer relief credit for things like loan modification relief and making more loans available to low-income housing buyers.

Those are all good things, says Kevin Stein, Associate Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, but they’re also things Bank of America is already doing.

“It’s not clear this is requiring them to do more than they were otherwise going to do,” said Stein.


Study: Orange County has shortfall of 118,895 affordable homes

Home Prices Drop To Lowest Level Since 2006

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Median rents in Orange County increased by 19-percent between 2000 and 2012, while the median income declined by ten-percent, according to the report.

There's a shortfall of 118,895 affordable homes in Orange County, which is the third-largest shortage in California, according to a new report from the California Housing Partnership Corporation.

Los Angeles has the biggest shortfall in the state: 490,340 homes. 

Median rents in Orange County increased by 19-percent between 2000 and 2012, while the median income declined by ten-percent, according to the report. During the same time, L.A. saw a 25-percent jump in rents, and a nine-percent drop in incomes.

"Coupled with stagnant wages, increasing housing costs have pushed many low-income households’ budgets to the breaking point," the report said.

One of the biggest culprits is funding for affordable housing, which has been dramatically reduced at both the federal and state level in recent years. The report found there has been a 76-percent decrease in funding for affordable homes in Orange County since 2008.


Calif. mulls new $400M film/TV tax credit, but will it save industry jobs? An FAQ

Michael Desmond Photography/Showtime

The Showtime TV series "Masters of Sex," now filming its second season in Southern California, is one of the shows contributing to an uptick in film production this quarter.

California's film and television production tax incentive program is likely to get bigger, and state lawmakers have included new provisions to assure taxpayers that the costly program will do what it's intended to do: Namely, create more production jobs in the state.

But other states — including New York and New Mexico — have called into question whether the jobs created are worth the money they invest in tax incentives.

Even so, AB 1839, the closely watched bill to expand the program, passed the California Senate Appropriations committee last week and is headed to a vote of the full legislature. If it passes and is signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, it will raise the amount of public money made available to these productions from $100 million to $400 million each year.  

That's the dollar figure most supporters in Hollywood were hoping for. But legislators also want to make sure that Hollywood is held to account for the incentives productions receive. New details have emerged about how legislators want to change the way productions compete for these dollars. 


Anheuser-Busch chooses Dodger Stadium to debut Mexican import beer Montejo


Ben Bergman/KPCC

Montejo makes its U.S. debut at Dodger Stadium this weekend. An area in right field has been rebranded as the Montejo bar, instead of the Bud Light bar.

Starting with this weekend's homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers, Dodger fans will be able to buy the Mexican beer, Montejo, at the ballpark.

It will be the only place you can buy Montejo in the U.S. for the rest of the month, before it goes on-sale at other locations throughout the Southwest.

The megabrewer is billing the launch of Montejo – which first launched in Mexico in the 1960's – as its first import from Mexico to the United States. It also says this is the first time a major new beer has made its debut at a sports venue, according to Javier Vaquer, Anheuser-Busch’s Regional Marketing Director.

"We chose Dodger Stadium because of the heritage," Vaquer told me. "They have a very multicultural following."

Anheuser-Busch – which brews about half of U.S. beer – is best known for Budweiser and Bud Light, which are readily available at Dodger Stadium. But the conglomerate is also trying to expand into craft beers and Mexican beers because of the country's changing demographics and changing consumer preferences.


Will the film tax credit program get a 'blockbuster' budget?

MPAA summit on film tax credits could help other states compete with California for film production

David McNew/Getty Images

A film crew on location in downtown Los Angeles. (File photo)

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made the rounds in Sacramento Wednesday in a final push to support a bill on expanding California’s tax credit program for film and TV production. The state senate appropriations committee will take up the bill on Thursday.

The bill — AB-1839 —has sailed through the legislature with almost no opposition — in part because it doesn’t yet have a price tag.  The bill’s sponsors want to boost the amount of tax credits offered to films and TV shows that shoot in state. The question is by how much. 

"Stay tuned and see if it’s a blockbuster number," said Senate Appropriations committee chair Kevin De Leon on the Senate floor.

The current tax incentive pot stands at $100 million dollars a year.  Most supporters want to at least quadruple that because — the state’s biggest rival — New York  — offers more than $400 million in credits.  But Kevin Klowden of the Milken Institute says there are Hollywood dreams and Sacramento realities.