One of the greatest strengths of Los Angeles is our incredible diversity. We are the new melting pot of the United States, and L.A. is a true rainbow of cultures and ethnicities.
Just to pick a few examples, we have the largest Korean and Filipino populations outside Korea and the Philippines and the largest Latino population outside Latin America. The storied history and continued vibrancy of our African American community is often the inspiration for novels and movies.
I have the great honor of representing Assembly District 48 in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse and interesting legislative districts anywhere in the nation. It includes large parts of Koreatown and many largely Black and Latino neighborhoods. We have hundreds of thriving small businesses and a significant number of larger corporate offices in the district. However, many of the hard working people in our district have been disproportionately hit by the current economic crisis.
While California has an unemployment rate several points higher than the nations’, Los Angeles is even higher at 12.5 percent. Between April and May 2011, Los Angeles County lost 17,100 jobs, and among Latino and African American workers, who make up a significant percentage of the work force in District 48, unemployment rates are from 5 to 8 percent higher than the official figures.
I hove been a champion for Black and Latino workers and for equality in hiring since my first days in public office and have continued to fight for more and better jobs in my district as an Assemblymember. At the same time, I have worked hard to help the many small businesses in the district–particularly in Koreatown. At this moment, I am working with Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and my Assembly colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Sacramento to find ways to get California’s economy moving again.
But we need to do more to stimulate the economy at the local level, and we need to do it quicker, especially in Los Angeles. In my search for innovative ways to spur new economic activity and increased hiring in my District, I have found one project that can provide both short-term economic stimulus for my constituents and long-term growth and stability for the entire central Los Angeles area. That is AEG’s proposal to build a $1.35 billion project right next door to District 48.
The AEG proposal includes the construction of a new NFL football stadium named Farmers Field (sponsored by Farmers Insurance) as well as a major modernizing and rebuilding program for L.A.’s outdated 40-year-old Convention Center.
It (the stadium) can be a very powerful economic and jobs engine at a moment when it is most needed and welcome.
As a member of the L.A. Coliseum Commission, I have long believed that we needed the economic and cultural stimulus that an NFL team would provide for Los Angeles and my district. But it takes major economic clout and significant promotional capabilities to actually attract a team.
AEG has all of this and more with the Farmers Field proposal, including their L.A. Live venue and promotional network.
This project has the potential to be transformative in multiple ways. It will produce nearly $2 billion in economic output during the four-year construction period. It will create more than 23,000 total jobs and generate more than $600 million in ongoing economic output every year of operation, all while producing millions of dollars in new tax revenue annually for Los Angeles and California.
Most importantly, it will provide well-paying jobs for many of my hard-working constituents in District 48, as well as a major economic boost for our small businesses.
The AEG project is also environmentally friendly, which is a key for my support as a member of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. Both Farmers Field and the proposed new, expanded Convention Center will be LEED-certified green facilities that the entire community can take pride in.
I can also report that the cost of Farmers Field and the new L.A. Convention Center will be paid by AEG. Of the total construction cost of $1.35 billion, Los Angeles would have to issue $350 million in bonds that will be repaid by AEG.
This is similar in scope and scale to the highly successful agreements the city struck with AEG for the Staples Center and L.A. Live.
The Los Angeles City Council and the mayor have ultimate decision-making authority over the Farmers Field project, which must clear initial approvals for a memorandum of understanding between AEG and the city by July 31 in order to move to the next phase.
I support this excellent, jobs-generating project. I agree with the June 19, L.A. Times editorial that encourages the Council and the mayor to vet this major project thoroughly, but to ultimately approve a memorandum of understanding with AEG by July 31 so the project can go forward.
I will stay involved on behalf of my constituents, and I will offer any assistance that my office in Sacramento can provide in vetting all aspects of this dynamic proposal.
Mike Davis is the Democratic State Assembly member from Los Angeles, District 48.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of OurWeekly.