Tale of two cities

Pub date June 17, 2013
SectionPolitics Blog

Interesting piece in the LA Times a few days ago, Our new mayor, Eric Garcetti, wants to bring raves back to Los Angeles. After the death of a 15 year old that snuck into the Electric Daisy Carnival event at the Coliseum, the raves have gone to Vegas, where they’re pulling in 100K in attendance. The mayor sees dollar signs in those numbers, not to mention OT for city employees that have been hurting the last five years from budget cuts. A sensible idea.

It got me to thinking, as these things do, about a more general policy of bringing lucrative businesses and events to LA. After all, downtown business rents are cheaper than New York or Tokyo and there is far more space here as well. The city’s soon to be highest high rise will be a Korean owned hotel, so LA has already demonstrated a cooperation with Asian interests that cannot be matched. Not by New York or any other American city, even those on the West Coast. Like Seattle, Portland or erm, San Francisco.

If Garcetti and the city council decided to offer up better deals for high-tech than exist 390 miles to the Northwest, there is precious little Mayor Lee could do to match. LA has a lot more money and of greater importance, much more space. 49 square miles cannot compete with 480 square miles. And with the Internet making high tech jobs doable anywhere, why wouldn’t tech start ups decide to opt for LA?

Let’s face it, San Francisco has priced itself right off the grid. For all of Mayor Lee’s tax incentives, the city is incredibly expensive to rent or buy in. It is still possible to find a decent 1 BR in Silver Lake or Eagle Rock or Highland Park for under 1200 a month–where is that in SF, Bayview (if at all)? And no 82K parking spaces or multi million dollar Manhattan sized condos either–for 3 million bucks, you can buy a reasonable property in the West Side’s swankest hoods–what does that get you in Pacific Heights?

LA is a very expensive city to live in by dint of car ownership as necessity and driving distances. It’s also nowhere near as pretty as San Francisco is. But as SF approaches Tokyo-like exclusivity, it would take very little to pry high tech firms south–where it’s always warm, the beaches and ski resorts both near and best of all–the entertainment business and its attendant pleasures and power are nearby. 

Let’s face it, SF has screwed up–their biggest business for eons is tourism and that would never change were the city not so insistant on wrecking same with crack downs on clubs and “1984”-like scare tactics. Los Angeles–with its money and power can offer incentives that Mr. Lee and his cromies could only dream of–and with a forward thinker like Garcetti at the wheel, this may be inevitable.