LA Sweetens the Pot for Filmmakers

City council OKs incentives to keep film, TV production in LA

City officials hope to keep more film and television production in Los Angeles through a series of measures endorsed Wednesday, including a business tax break, more convenient parking and efforts to provide electricity to location shoots downtown.

The incentives package was unanimously approved by the City Council. Councilman Eric Garcetti asked city officials to come up with ways to keep production in Los Angeles after the makers of ABC's "Ugly Betty" moved the one-hour television show to New York.

A report by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. found a one-hour show create 180 jobs directly and supports another 540 indirectly, while generating $2.2 million in state income taxes and $880,000 in state sales tax.

"As we saw during the writers' strike, it's not necessarily the stars and the producers who suffer (when production moves), it's the middle class. It is the middle class -- the crewmembers, the grips, the camera operators, film editors, location managers, set designers -- they see their jobs fall away," Garcetti said.

The city's financial officers were directed to study business tax incentives and draft a proposal for council approval.

A Film Industry Parking Task Force will address the parking and transportation needs of production companies that shoot in the downtown area. Members of the task force will identify vacant land that can be used as staging areas for productions.

The Department of Water and Power was also directed to install above-ground utility cabinets throughout downtown that would provide crews with access to electricity without the need of generators. Each cabinet would cost between $2,500 and $20,000 to install, according to a report from the city's chief legislative analyst.

"We cannot let Hollywood leave. Just like Wall Street and New York, New York would never let Wall Street leave," said Councilman Wendy Greuel.

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