Southern California breaking news and trends

LA City Council seeks private operator for Los Angeles Convention Center

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Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

Just five percent of events at the Los Angeles Convention attract visitors from outside the region. In top convention cities, that figure is closer to 35 percent, according to the city's budget analyst.

A recommendation to find a private operator for the Los Angeles Convention Center was approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council, despite some members’ misgivings on turning over management of the public asset.

Proposals will be due in the spring. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana hopes to have a new governance and management structure in place by next July.

Los Angeles attracts trade shows and ceremonies, but is off the radar when it comes to large conventions. Only five percent of events at L.A.'s facility are major conventions that draw people from outside the region, Santana testified. In top convention cities such as Chicago and Orlando, that number is closer to 35 percent. 

About 11 percent of L.A.’s Convention Center attendees come here by airplane; in other cities the figure is six times that. That statistic is important, Santana said, because those are the visitors who stay in hotels and turn business trips into vacations, causing a financial ripple throughout the city.


LA City Council unanimously approves USC development



The Village at USC, which will be built on university-owned land at Hoover Street and Jefferson Boulevard, is expected to create 8,000 permanent jobs and 4,000 construction jobs.

Plans for a major, mixed-use real estate development around USC  were unanimously approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council. It will be the largest private development in South Los Angeles. 

The project, which will be built on university-owned land at Hoover Street and Jefferson Boulevard, is expected to create 8,000 permanent jobs and 4,000 construction jobs. Overall, construction on Village at USC will have a $1.1 billion impact on Los Angeles County’s economy, according to numbers provided by the university. 

The project, which will include new student housing, restaurants, retail shops and a grocery, has been a decade in the making. 

Tom Sayles, USC’s senior vice president of university relations, told reporters after the vote: “At the end of the day, we all came together and as a result we are now going to have a truly transformative project — a project that will improve the quality of life as well as improve employment opportunities in our neighborhood,” 


Fire chief appears at City Hall to respond to criticism of LAFD (video)

Brian Watt/KPCC

Fire Chief Brian Cummings appeared before the Los Angeles City Council Tuesday to explain what the LAFD needs to lower response times and improve service.

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Brian Cummings appeared before the L.A. City Council Tuesday to face criticism that the department has done little to improve response times and manage its budget. 

Cummings' two-hour appearance ended with council members giving him 60 days to report on how the LAFD expects to restore service over the next five years.

The fire department has faced months of criticism after it was revealed that their response times were calculated incorrectly. The fire chief blamed part of LAFD’s problems on money. The L.A. City Council cut the department’s budget by $89 million from 2008 to 2011. But, this year, the LAFD’s budget was back to $513 million.

“The simple answer is money," Cummings said. "If you give us money, we’ll have more technology, we’ll have more civilian support staff, we’ll have more resources in the field. You gave us a budget. We’re giving you the most effective fire department we can within that budget.”


Mustached men of Los Angeles City Hall recognize Movember

Movember at City Hall

Monica Valencia of Councilman Ed Reyes' Office

Los Angeles City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Paul Krekorian, surrounded by the men of their offices, present a city proclamation to Movember, a campaign to draw attention to prostate and testicular cancers.

The men of Los Angeles City Hall have joined thousands of other “Movember” participants to grow mustaches this month in an effort to draw awareness to prostate cancer.

Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Joe Busciano – who is working on growing out a Trucker mustache – honored Movember during Friday’s meeting of the City Council. In 2011, 854,000 “Mo Bros,” as they’re called, raised $126.3 million for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Livestrong Foundation and other awareness campaigns.

“While some of us are painful to look at, what is truly painful is allowing prostrate cancer to go unnoticed and unchecked,” Buscaino said. “Let this month and the facial hair you see today serve as a reminder to get screened for prostate and testicular cancer.”

RELATED: Show us your mustache and help raise cancer awareness


LA City Council backs exclusive system for commercial trash haulers

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David McNew/Getty Images

The L.A. City Council has endorsed a new system for collecting trash from apartment buildings and commercial properties.

A proposal to change how private haulers collect garbage at businesses and apartment buildings was endorsed Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.

In an 11-3 vote, the council backed the idea of an “exclusive franchise” system, which would carve up the city into 11 zones, each served by one trash company. It hasn't been determined whether a company can operate in more than one zone. Public Works will now have 90 days to develop an implementation plan. 

The system could be phased in as early as next year for apartment buildings, but not until 2017 for commercial properties. The city currently issues permits to about 45 companies that collect trash from apartment and commercial buildings.

Under the new system, the City of Los Angeles can require haulers to operate clean fuel vehicles, meet recycling goals, and pay workers a living wage. The city would also be responsible for setting rates. Councilman Eric Garcetti argued that the new system will have various benefits.