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LA takes baby steps to keep Hollywood at home

October 7, 2009 | 12:51 pm

HOLLYWOOD

Is Los Angeles finally trying to become a film friendly city?

Don't hold your breath. But the city council this morning unanimously approved a series of modest recommendations aimed at slowing the disturbing migration rate of TV and film production to other cities and states.

The 17 recommendations include having the city evaluate a business tax credit for building owners that make their properties available for filming at "reasonable rate," and a sales tax refund for purchases made for filming when at least 75 percent of the shooting is done within the city. The council also agreed to offer city parking lots for free to film crews that shoot after hours or on weekends to increase the availability of power nodes downtown that film production companies could use in lieu of generators.

The steps come amid mounting evidence that LA is losing jobs in film and TV to other cheaper locales. More than 40 states offer tax credits and rebates. The city's wake-up came last year when ABC moved its sitcom "Ugly Betty" from LA to New York, to take advantage of tax credits there. Earlier this year, California adopted its first ever film tax credits, which have helped keep some productions from leaving but are considered too narrow in scope to compete with what other states offer.

Local sales tax credits for filmmakers could help make LA more competitive, but it's unclear whether and how much the city is willing to subsidize the local entertainment industry given the city's severe budget crunch.

Councilman Richard Alarcon, who chaired the jobs and business development committee that crafted the recommendations, said the steps are long overdue.

"We are in competition with locations throughout the country as well as Canada and if we do not fight to keep filming in LA it could have a devastating effect on our economy,'' he said. "Some argue that it already has. It's critical that we recognized filming as significant part of our economy and that we need to grow and protect it."

-Richard Verrier

Photo Credit: Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times


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