Hahn reveals pic incentive

Mayor will include plan in proposed 2005-06 budget

In the midst of a tough re-election campaign, Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn has announced a $15 million annual incentive program aimed at putting the brakes on runaway production.

Hahn, who faces a May runoff against Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, announced the program Thursday and indicated he’ll include it next month as part of his proposed 2005-06 budget.

Hahn’s proposal, unveiled at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood, didn’t contain any limits on which productions will be eligible other than requiring that 75% of shooting take place in Los Angeles. Program would reimburse productions as much as $625,000 for 5% of below-the-line costs up to $12.5 million, with the aim of competing with foreign incentives as well as programs in states including Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico and New York.

Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, a former DreamWorks exec who hasn’t endorsed either candidate, said she hadn’t been notified of Hahn’s proposal before the news conference.

“We don’t know the details yet,” she told Daily Variety. “Keeping our signature industry here is a key issue for us, but so are issues like having an adequate number of police officers. So this proposal will be part of our overall budget discussion.”

Hahn touted his proposal as offering $2.5 million more than New York City’s film incentive program, which is credited with attracting at least five productions since launching in January.

He also pledged Thursday to work with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to develop a state program that would complement and enhance the city’s incentives. Schwarzenegger’s expected to unveil the specifics of state incentives in May (Daily Variety, Feb. 22).

Thursday’s event drew Teamsters Local 399 business agent Steve Dayan and AFTRA exec David Besbris.

Hahn last year endorsed a pair of business tax reform proposals that were approved with the aim of slowing runaway production. He announced last month a Film Inventory Management System to encourage use of lesser-known city properties and highlight surplus properties that are available for filming.

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