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DLANC: Fun Filled February Board Meeting

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, February 08, 2005, at 10:49PM

So tonight was the always fun monthly board meeting for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. Lots of interesting agenda items, and a good amount of heated discussion, but not necessarily too much in the way of passed motions. On the docket this month: the half-cent sales tax, advertising space on the old Pacific Stock Exchange, and a debate on the convention center hotel and finding ways to fund Broadway theatre renovation.

I'm skipping all the boring items and jumping straight to what I think is interesting.

Half-Cent Sales Tax

First of those was item number seven:

Consideration and possible action on the proposed half-cent sales tax increase for public safety which is about to be voted on by the city council.

I mentioned previously that we had raised this issue last month. This time we at least knew that City Council was voting on a half-cent city sales tax, but other than that our information was just as limited as the last time around. The proposal will be given to Council tomorrow and they'll vote on it. There was a motion voted on to oppose a half-cent sales tax, but it did not pass, largely due to absentions from those who didn't feel they had enough information without being able to see the proposal.

Advertising on the Pacific Stock Exchange

Next, number nine:

Planning Committee's recommendation on proposed CUP for advertising signage and public art project on building at 233 S. Beaudry.

233 S. Beaudry is the old Pacific Stock Exchange building on the west side of the 110 freeway. If you read this week's issue of the Downtown News you'll find a story on plans to convert the building to housing and build two additional towers. Part of what they want to do with the site involves SuperGraphics (or at least something along those lines... I'm unclear on whether they're actually talking to SuperGraphics the company). Basically they want to turn two and a half walls of the Exchange into 50,000 square feet of advertising space.

The problem: the city of Los Angeles has a moratorium on erecting advertising. They've granted a few exceptions, and a lot of stuff has been grandfathered in, but in general you can't erect advertising space in LA right now. The developers would have to apply to City Council for an exception, and were trying to get our support in that effort. To garner more support they brought the idea of permanently setting aside 10% of the east wall of the building for a rotating public art use. This space could advertise public events Downtown or showcase the work of a local artist. A portion of the advertising profits would pay for installing the public works.

It's an interesting idea, but I really wanted to see more in the way of numbers and details before I would feel comfortable voting to support their efforts. We sent the Exchange project back to the Planning and Land Use Committee and asked that when the project comes back to the full Board that we be given the materials a week in advance.

That said, we did vote to support lifting the moratorium and to instead have advertising considered on a case by case basis. I think big ad murals like the ones on Hotel Figueroa are great. I love the character they add to the neighborhood. I would support more advertising that's well done in that manner.

Convention Center Hotel and Broadway Theatres

Whew; now on to item eleven:

Business Development Committee's recommendation that the City Council consider as a part of the Convention Center Hotel financial package to include or allocate funds to refurbish existing entertainment infrastructure in Downtown Los Angeles.

This one brought out a lot of discussion on topics ranging from parks to job training to taking pounds of flesh. Basic gist of what I was hearing: people want to make sure all this new development is good for the whole of Downtown. That said, you can't just tie all sorts of disparate things together and hope to get your projects funded on the back of something else (that only works in Congress).

What ended up happening was that the motion was split in two: the first motion affirmed our support for the Convention Center hotel and the financing package and the second asked City Council to pursue finding funds to help revitalize the historic Broadway theatres. Both motions passed. Now to me it seems that while both these motions are good, they don't add up to the verbage originally on the agenda. Not that that's too bad of a thing, since I would have voted against the motion as presented in the agenda, but it just seemed a little odd to me.

Closing Thoughts

These meetings can get a little frustratingly argumentative at times, but I have to say that I love them. I enjoy every bit of this stuff.

I don't know what that says about me...

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