So. Cal’s new permissiveness

The business of getting a film permit in and around Los Angeles is about to get much, much easier.

On Tuesday, a committee of the Southern California Assn. of Governments adopted a report that provides for a common, regionalized one-stop film permit office that could cover up to six counties and 118 city jurisdictions — basically every county south of (and including) Ventura except San Diego.

“We want the industry to know that they are very important to our area, that we have a friendly business attitude and a friend-to-the-industry attitude,” said L.A. City Councilman Hal Bernson, who helped spearhead this plan. “We’re doing everything we can to stay competitive and keep the industry working here.”

The plan calls for the creation of a 45-member board governing a new public-private partnership corporation that would deal specifically with film and still-photography permits. That board would comprise elected representatives from each of the six counties and from many of the cities within those regions.

Entertainment industry people would staff 50% of the board.

Out of that board, a 10-member executive board — again with 50% from the industry — would be organized to deal with day-to-day decision making.

What this all means is, for example, when a production company wants to film one day in Orange County and the next day in the city of Los Angeles, it would only need one stop to get a permit.

“The staff at this permit location would then contact all the various jurisdictions, clear the time and site and take care of all the details,” Bernson said. “The company would no longer need to get multiple permits with varying ordinances everywhere they go.”

Bernson and others who worked on the report say that the one-stop regional plan would be implemented at no extra cost to the industry. “It may result in the reduction of some usage fees at various cities on such things as charges to film on public property,” Bernson said. “That’s because we are going to attempt to standardize or eliminate usage fees.”

The staff for this one-stop office would be paid for through permit fees.

The plan is due to go before SCAG’s regional council March 3. If it’s approved, there will be a 60-day time frame in which the various counties and cities have to name representatives to the 45-member board.

From there, the board would meet within a month and elect an executive board. Meanwhile, the plan will have to go for approval from the various city and county boards that are involved.

“We don’t know that every jurisdiction is going to come aboard immediately,” noted Cody Cluff, L.A. City assistant deputy mayor and entertainment liaison. “But we think the more commonly filmed areas will come on quite quickly. This is very much in line with the way we think this region should market itself to the industry.”

Cluff said he hoped to see the city and county of Los Angeles sign on to the program immediately, which would affect some 80% of local filming.

Bernson said he hoped to then see a majority of the 118 jurisdictions then signed on within six months.

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