Pushing an aggressive agenda of tax reform and local investment, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday urged local officials to do more to make the city business friendly.
"We all know today's economy is challenging all of us," Chamber President Gary Toebben said at the annual Access L.A. Day at City Hall. "It is all about jobs and creating a climate that is conducive to business."
Chief among the proposals is having the city move on to the next proposed development at Los Angeles International Airport beyond the existing modernization plans -- a multibillion-dollar proposal to separate the northern runways to allow for larger aircraft to land.
The business leaders -- more than 100 showed up to lobby officials -- also urged the city to continue efforts at the Port of Los Angeles to meet competition coming from the Panama Canal.
They also urged the city to stay on the path it has set out for the long-term elimination of the gross receipts tax.
Controller Wendy Greuel, who is running for mayor, said she supports eliminating the tax.
"I know, from working in small business, how much of an impact it has on business," Greuel said. "It is something where you are taxed two and three times for the same product."
City Council President Herb Wesson said he and the City Council are also committed to same agenda.
"I can remember once I was running for re-election and my campaign manager came up with a
catchy slogan, 'my job is jobs,"' Wesson recalled. "I told him, that is my job.
"If ever there was a time that we need a partnership, that time is today. We are facing serious challenges that will take serious leadership for us to take the city out of the red and into the black.
Wesson said the City Council has given preliminary approval to pension reform for new workers, plans for the Farmers Field football stadium and is working to revive regulations on billboards.
"You can say a lot of things about the City Council, but you can't say we have been inactive," Wesson said. "We will act."
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had been scheduled to appear, but he was in New York to witness the presidential debate.
The chamber also released its annual report on economic activity, broken down by each of the 15 City Council districts.
The report showed there has been a continued slow recovery in the city, with employment remaining virtually flat from last year, at 10.8 percent -- higher than the rest of the country.
However, it said there were some signs of improvement -- such as in the 13th District covering the Hollywood area where there was a 5 percent increase in jobs.
In more residential districts, such as those making up the San Fernando Valley, there were hopeful signs in the number of residential building permits being issued.
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