Can the City Council Stop Runaway Production?
According to City News Service, the L.A. City Council today directed government agencies "to consider offering a host of incentives to encourage television and movie production companies to keep conducting business in Los Angeles, instead of moving to other cities and states."
The council deserves a special Academy Award for this gesture but don't count on a suggestion for agencies to "consider" anything to have any real effect on runaway production. The plain facts of capitalist life show that producers (whether of steel or movies) inevitably seek the cheapest raw materials and assembly points to create their products, and nothing is going to make L.A. competitive with Mexico or Canada. Council president Eric Garcetti seemed to acknowledge as much when he said, according to CNS, "Los Angeles will never be the cheapest, but we can be cheaper." For the past 15 years or so the trend has been for the decentralization of industries in the U.S. -- either to lower-wage states or out of the country entirely. There may well be nothing L.A. can do to prevent Hollywood from ankling the city limits.
It's sad to consider a Hollywood without Hollywood, but film and TV are certainly not the only games to leave town. It would be nice for L.A. to get its massive aerospace industry back, but that's not going to happen. Ditto with the steel, automobile and fishing industries. We've still got our ports and garment industry, and even with runaway film production we're not likely to see the entertainment industry completely abandon the L.A. area.
Here's some of what the council proposed: Refunds of sales taxes
paid by film companies when engaged in local productions (I'd like to be
the Special Administrative Assistant processing those
reimbursement receipts); free night time parking for shoots on city lots; criminalization of
behavior deemed disruptive to film shoots. And, of course, a raft of
peripheral tax incentives and the creation of a film czar's office.
None of it's binding and may never see the light of day.
The city apparently did not dare make any reciprocating demands -- like
the right to monitor film executives' salaries or look at studios'
books. You know, the way the White House has suggested the banks and
automobile industry should trade some transparency in return for
bailouts and subsidies. For all that, however, the council still didn't give
Hollywood what it probably wants the most -- a parade in its honor.
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