Inglewood Area Subregional Groups' Findings
February 20, 1998
The manner in which local governments are financed and structured in California is of great importance to our citizens throughout the state. Active civic participation is often diminished when citizens are unable to ascertain which part of government is responsible for delivering a particular service. In addition, taxpayers often become frustrated when
their taxes are paid and public services are either cut back, altered or eliminated within their neighborhoods.
The Metropolitan Forum Project, Inglewood Team examined the various levels of government responsible for the delivery of services in the community of Inglewood. In addition, the team discussed the structure of state and local governments to determine if the present relationship between state and local government has an impacted on the way in which local services are delivered.
This report lists the impacts to the community of Inglewood discussed by the Inglewood team as a result of the present structure of governance, details questions of significant interest for future policy consideration by decision makers, and presents a number of recommendations designed to improve the ability of local government to meet the needs of Inglewood residents.
Impacts to Inglewood
- Los Angeles County has the highest rate of uninsured people, (1 in every three). Los Angeles County attempts to continue to provide a total spectrum of care This may not be possible in the near future.
- Shortage of County staff is an obstacle to the delivery of health services.
- As a result of the shift in land use emphasis from property tax producers to sales tax producers, traditional downtown businesses in Inglewood have suffered from unfavorable and potentially unfair competition as local government provides incentives to heavy sales tax producing enterprises.
- When small businesses in the downtown area fail due to increased competition with outside retail establishments or changing market conditions, some of the new businesses coming into the historic downtown business district to take their place may not be desirable businesses or reflective of community standards.
- In addition to the potential detriment to the downtown area due to the loss of small business, the team found that small business contribute significantly to the culture and identity of Inglewood. The loss of small businesses, therefore, is counterproductive to the quality of civic life in Inglewood and further leads to declining civic participation.
- The growing antipathy to government has lead to a voter turnout rate in local elections of approximately 10%.
- Growing antipathy to government at all levels has prevented Inglewood from charging or raising fees on fee based services.
- As a result of the difficulty in raising project related fees, many new projects face delay due to personnel cuts in some departments at Inglewood City Hall potentially depriving Inglewood of economic benefits and progress.
- Utility tax in Inglewood is 10%. Many neighboring communities either do not charge or charge less. This may have a detrimental effect upon economic development efforts and presents a further challenge for small businesses.
- The total tax bill may be higher then the public perceives due to the utility tax which many people pay but are nevertheless unaware due to its inclusion in utility bills.
- In 1988, the voters of Inglewood went to the polls and agreed that there was not enough local public funds available to adequately fund public safety. They passed Proposition BB, a local tax increase measure to provide the funds for more police officers.
- Inglewood passed a referendum legalizing card club gambling in 1992-93. This has produced $4 million in annual revenue and has shielded the city from making further cuts in its budget. This income has replaced income lost from a drop in retail sales in the City.
- Inglewood has a present budget shortfall of approximately $4 million. Without the Casino, it would double.
- Loss of revenue from the relocation of the Lakers and the Kings may be in the $1 million to $2 million range.
- The image of Inglewood is of concern with the Lakers/Kings move.
- Real estate development was a major factor in the decision of the Lakers and Kings to move out of Inglewood. Inglewood could not compete with the resources of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles business community.
- Hollywood Park and the Forum will continue to be important revenue producers for the City of Inglewood.
- Ancillary benefits from Hollywood Park and the Forum have been limited to date. Inglewood officials are planning to invest $4 million to renovate the historic downtown area. The synergy between this area and the entertainment venues is expected to be significant based upon the experiences of other cities which have done similar things, (San Diego)
- The entertainment venues in the City are aging and may present future challenges to economic growth.
- Utility deregulation may have an impact on public revenues as prices of utilities fall.
- Consumers may not realize the full benefits of utility deregulation due to the utility tax.
- Noise mitigation from LAX has provided some revenue for economic development and large retail growth at the cost of housing since the houses were in the noise impacted areas.
- Inglewood seeks managed growth of LAX and they are concerned with noise, smog, impacts to homes and traffic which the City has little available revenues to mitigate.
- There are economic benefits to LAX expansion that Inglewood is interested in if the mitigation of the expansion impacts are paid for by LAX.
- Ground access expenses relative to LAX traffic is an issue since LAX has contributed little to mitigating traffic in Inglewood.
- Inglewood pays for traffic improvements through gas taxes, Prop C, federal grants.
- Traffic pattern changes relative to LAX growth have had both a positive and a negative impact on land uses including increased pedestrian access in some areas, removal of blighted properties, greater mobility, commercial growth, etc.
- Most people have little understanding of how public services are paid for or which level of government is responsible.
- The public dialogue regarding government focuses on sensational stories giving the public a distorted view of government.
- Local media coverage is often based on arbitrary information since the focus is too often on sensational stories.
- Bad press can severely hurt economic development efforts.
- The only significant way that information is communicated today is through the media which has its biases and limitations. Government cannot effectively communicate directly.
- How can Inglewood work with the private owners of Hollywood Park and the Forum to update and upgrade these facilities to insure that they remain a community asset?
- Are Counties still relevant and needed in todays streamlined society?
- Can cities take the responsibilities of counties?
- Are there too many levels of government?
- Where does an appropriate structure of governance exist as a model for reform?
- Sub-regional service delivery consolidation among local governments should be encouraged.
- Develop mechanisms to deal with land use conflicts which have community-wide implications such as the Prairie Avenue corridor.
- Develop an economic development model which does not focus only on the "Big Five"
- Protect small businesses and insure that they have a voice in the community.
- Encourage police and fire to live in the communities they serve.
- Control police and fire overtime.
- Government needs to foster a sense of community by doing the following:
- Government should do business locally;
- Government should hire local workers;
- Tax structure should be designed to put local money back into the community;
- Government needs to help "grow" local businesses which may be capable of providing services needed by the public;
- Small businesses should have the ability to collaborate under an umbrella to cover overhead and compete with large businesses;
- Local economic development efforts should be funded at a higher level;
- Local economic development efforts need to interact with existing businesses; more. Staff members need more flexibility to address community needs;
- Government should do more to facilitate partnerships among public, private and non-profit organizations to meet public service needs;
- Local schools should work closer with the business community to hire local students.
Develop local community block clubs or community centers and adequately fund them.
Bureaucracy at all levels of government needs to be reduced in order to make government more efficient:
- Local governments should work together and develop a vision and an implementation plan for the community;
- Budget cuts should not happen at the service delivery level;
- Service delivery personnel need to be empowered to deliver their service in the most efficient manner;
- Management at all levels should be streamlined;
- Create career paths for public employees which are in step with community needs;
- Involve citizens more;
- Top management at all levels of government need to think more creatively;
- Accountability needed at all levels of government; This may include some manner of "grading" leaders and top managers.
- Expand term limits to local government.
- Leaders should be better educated.
- Effective public education campaigns needed to promote citizen involvement at all levels of government.
- Government needs to not only be visionary but also market that vision and involve local citizens in the development of that vision.