Hollywood Petitions California Legislators For More Film And Tv Tax Incentives
The once-sleepy Hollywood tour bus business has become increasingly competitive. Just a few years ago there were only a few operators offering Hollywood sign viewing tours. Now, there are more than 40 tour companies running buses and vans in and out of the canyon. PHOTOS: The Hollywood sign through the years Then, there are the technological advances. Many tourists now use GPS devices on their cars and phones to map out the best views. And the directions send them not just down the main roads but into narrow residential canyons. Tourist websites also offer tips on prime locations. One even directed visitors to Deronda Drive, where “residents will have lemonade stands set up, offering the perfect thirst quencher after an exhilarating hike to the sign. They’re wonderful folks!” Residents say they are bothered by the traffic but are most concerned about safety issues because the curving hillside roads were not designed for so many cars and pedestrians. “We live in the middle of an area that is very attractive to people all over the globe,” said Fran Reichenbach, president of the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Assn. “We knew that when we moved here, but in the last few years it’s really gotten out of hand.” In an effort to deal with the crowds over the summer, the city tested the use of road checkpoints where tourists were warned of parking restrictions in the area and directed to a vista point above the Hollywood Reservoir where they could see the fabled sign. It’s the latest of several tactics the city has tried, with decidedly mixed results. In 2011, the city began weighing tour buses as they entered Hollywoodland to strictly enforce the 6,000-pound vehicle limit on the small streets. Residents have even taken matters into their own hands, posting signs in the neighborhood stating “Warning Tourist-Free Zone All Tourists Leave the Area” and “Tourists Go Away.” TIME-LAPSE VIDEO: Painting the Hollywood sign At a forum two years ago, residents offered a number of ideas for easing the traffic, including erecting gates across some streets and even building an aerial tram connecting the nearby Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park to a ridge next to the Hollywood sign.
Dustin Kinnear, who earlier pleaded not guilty to murder, entered a Los Angeles County courtroom on Tuesday flanked by the two men accused of helping him conceal the crime. Christine Calderon, 23, was stabbed to death on June 18 near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Jason Wolstone, 33, and Brian Widdows, 34, are charged as accessories after the fact. Both suspects have also pleaded not guilty. During a preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented their evidence against the three suspects. It included testimony from Robert Harden, who was with Calderon on the night she was killed. “When we reached the corner, I realized she was covered in blood,” Harden said. He testified that both he and Calderon took photos of the suspects, who were panhandling and holding obscenity-laced signs. When he and Calderon refused to pay the suspects for the photos, Harden says Kinnear attacked Calderon. “I saw him on top of her,” Harden said. Calderon died of a stab wound to her upper torso. Kinnear was arrested hours later. Attorneys for Kinnear and the other two suspects argued that Harden’s story was inconsistent, and that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the charges against their clients.
Hollywood stabbing: Transient ordered to stand trial
“It just seems like a no-brainer for us to expand the pool of money,” Ruben Gonzalez, vp public policy and political affairs for the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce told the committee members, “rethink the regulations, rethink the cap (on how much any one production can receive) and have it set for a longer period than the few years we do now. The one thing every business needs is certainty when they invest.” “Behind the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood lights, there are real people — hard-working men and women who make the regular people into stars,” said Rusty Hicks, political director, L.A. County Federation of Labor. “Keeping Californians working in California is something we can all agree on,” added Hicks. Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission, noted the $100 million in tax credits allocated each year to retain movie and TV productions is all spent in one day, with many of the eligible projects left on a waiting list or unfunded. “It’s not an effective way to run an economic development program,” said Lemisch. Lemish said the most lucrative form of entertainment production in terms of what it contributes to a local economy are TV series, and the California program doesn’t include network series, only basic cable series. That is because the program, when created in 2009, was focused on those forms of entertainment they felt could be retained through the program. California Senator Ted Lieu said one problem is that legislators from Northern California often resist expanding the program because they think it is really focused on Southern California. Lieu said there may be a need to redefine entertainment to include things like the video game industry and postproduction. “It’s something to think about strategically,” added Lieu, “whether we can strategically craft a bill” that would make the entire program more attractive throughout the state.” Kevin Klowden, managing economist at the Milken Institute, noted that the state of New York, which spends $420 million a year to lure productions, gives an extra 5 percent incentive to programs that move production outside New York City to other parts of the state, and that might work in California as well.