Increased efficiencies in energy consumption and transportation serve as the primary focus for our panel of economic experts. Improved transportation methods by air, rail and on city streets certainly has a positive effect on energy consumption. Reduced energy consumption, in turn, brings benefits to all area residents in the form of reduced pollution and greater sustainability. See what developments are coming your way in 2014 according to our panel. In banking, cautious optimism is the theme expressed, as California is likely to experience growth in key sectors together with continuing challenges due to weak national and international economies.
San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments
With new State mandates, reduced access to traditional sources of energy, and innovative financing tools, 2014 is set to be a watermark year for energy efficiency. The State has placed a major emphasis on reducing energy usage in buildings as a strategy to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. In 2014, the State will implement the newest update to Title 24 of the California Building Code, which sets requirements for energy efficiency in buildings. These updates are expected to reduce energy usage in new buildings by up to 25%.
In Southern California, residents and businesses will also be impacted by the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). When operational, SONGS provided energy to 1.4 million homes and businesses, and, with its closure, there will be an increased focus on energy conservation to avoid major disruptions to the energy supply. The California HERO program, which is expanding to our region, makes it easier for businesses and residents to implement energy efficiency and other conservation improvements. This financing mechanism allows property owners to make these important investments, while at the same time growing the local economy, supporting the construction industry, and increasing property values.
The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (COG), through its partnership with Southern California Edison and the Gas Company, is helping the region reduce energy usage through educational programs, technical assistance and financial incentives. Our energy programs provide technical assistance and funding to cities which allow them to implement innovative energy efficiency projects that they could not do alone. As the President of the COG, I deeply value these and all the programs we offer to our cities, and I am excited to continue this good work in 2014.
For more information, visit www.sgvcog.org
Habib F. Balian
Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority
As the Construction Authority continues to deliver light rail further into the San Gabriel Valley, communities along the Gold Line corridor experience the transformative effects of connecting to the county’s expanding rail network.
We need not travel far to experience the significant benefits that come with a light rail connection. The city of Pasadena has seen the vast majority of new development over the last 10 years occur within close proximity to their six Gold Line stations. Hundreds of new housing units and thousands of square feet of commercial space have been built since passenger service began in 2003, and now a new generation is growing up that has only experienced life with the train. In South Pasadena, the downtown area has seen a true renaissance. People shop, eat, live and work within walking distance of the station, and no week feels complete without a stop at each Thursday’s Farmers Market adjacent to the station.
In Azusa, extensive private investment is happening years ahead of passenger service. A new Target store opened in 2010 directly adjacent to the future station, and hundreds of new homes are now under construction near the future APU/Citrus College Station. Soon thousands of new Azusa residents will have easy access to the countywide network, as will thousands of students, visitors and staff at APU and Citrus College.
The momentum is sure to continue in 2014. The Construction Authority is on-time and on-budget with construction of the extension to Azusa, and next year we will begin advancing the extension to Montclair. As we complete our work, I look forward to seeing new opportunities unfold along the corridor, and the lifestyle changes that take place as area residents experience the benefits of living with the train.
The Journey Continues.
Chair, Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority
Mayor Pro Tem, City of El Monte
The Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority is engaged in the busiest period in its 15 year history, with three roadway-rail grade separation projects in construction and another five projects anticipated to start construction over the next two years. With train counts projected to grow, grade separations, where the road goes over or under the railroad, are needed at the most congested and hazardous crossings in the San Gabriel Valley.
Freight trains carry trade from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest container ports, along the ACE Trade Corridor to the rest of the nation. Up to 100 freight trains per day travel the corridor, projected to increase to 250 trains per day by 2025. The ACE grade separation projects will mitigate the impacts of rail traffic in our region while sustaining a regional strategy of encouraging long-haul goods movement by train rather than by truck on our congested freeways.
Grade separations eliminate crossing collisions, traffic delays at roadway-rail crossings (which otherwise are projected to increase by 300 percent), reduce emissions for idling vehicles waiting for trains to pass and reduce train horn noise. While the construction of our projects can result in traffic delays and other inconveniences, we are confident that the long-term benefits of the ACE projects will outweigh these temporary impacts.
We are pleased to have strong community support for our projects as well as the longtime bipartisan support of our local, state and federal elected officials. The ACE projects have been recognized as a critical priority for our region, state and nation, and we look forward to working with San Gabriel Valley’s legislators and representatives to secure funding to complete the ACE program.
For more information, please visit our website at www.theaceproject.org or call our Helpline at (888) ACE-1426.
Councilmember, City of Los Angeles, District 2
Chairman, San Fernando Valley Council of Governments
In looking toward 2014, I am excited about the prospect of working with my colleagues and constituents to sustainably upgrade our San Fernando Valley.
As chairman of the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, I will continue working with our Valley leaders as we work toward more transportation projects to ease congestion while also delivering the type of economic development we need in the Valley.
Transportation has always been a high priority in Los Angeles and particularly the Valley. Now, as we recover from the Great Recession, we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of our existing transportation infrastructure using local, state and federal funds to develop a more usable transit system that serves Angelenos in a useful, efficient and cost-effective manner.
We have designated a number of transportation priorities, shifting the focus from citywide and County transportation planning to the Valley, the missing link in our pursuit of seamless transportation across all of Los Angeles. This requires a multi-faceted approach, including better management of traffic, pedestrian and bicycle planning and major improvements to the Valley's transportation corridors.
With wide consensus, the SFVCOG Board unanimously adopted an initial set of priorities and projects that include plans to connect and coordinate transit systems serving the Valley by synchronizing transit schedules among our local transit agencies, renovating key sections of the 101 freeway to relieve bottlenecks and increase roadway safety, reviewing alternative options for increasing the Orange Line’s capacity, reviewing opportunities to develop and construct pedestrian and bike lanes along the L.A. River throughout the Valley and more.
These improvements will have a great multiplier effect by boosting local businesses, creating jobs and working toward a better Los Angeles. Thanks so much and a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all!
Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority
The coming year will be a remarkable one for Burbank Bob Hope Airport as the $112 million Regional Intermodal Transportation Center (RITC) is completed, bringing vast improvements in rental car facilities and better connections between the Airport and rail and bus transit. Metro is expected to begin construction of the Antelope Valley Line Metrolink stop at San Fernando Blvd. and Hollywood Way.
The initial phase of the Airport visioning process between the City of Burbank and the Airport Authority has been completed and has resulted in the Airport Authority submitting a proposal encompassing a 14-gate replacement terminal and a mixed use development for the adjoining vacant property along Hollywood Way.
The Airport’s legendary convenience now includes state-of-the-art passenger processing, thanks to the completion of $9 million in computer infrastructure that allows check-in for all airlines at any digital kiosk in the terminal, real-time flight information for all airlines, and flexible use of all ticket counters and gates by every air carrier.
Capital improvements for 2014 include rehabilitation of the runway lighting system, runway shoulder rehabilitation and continuation of the Residential Acoustical Treatment Program, which has reached over 2,300 residences and four schools.
While we expect Burbank Bob Hope Airport will continue to experience the challenges of the economy and its effects on the airline industry, air service development remains a high priority. The Authority continues to pursue new service with the airlines, and is investing in marketing partnerships with UCLA Athletics and the Rose Bowl Stadium for greater visibility to travelers. On the “home front,” Burbank Bob Hope Airport is excited to now offer the Thanks Again customer loyalty program that allows passengers to earn even more airline miles or hotel points with their purchases at Burbank and over 160 other airports across the country.
For more information, visit www.bobhopeairport.com.
Wells Fargo Bank
Four years have passed since the Great Recession ended and the U.S. economy is still struggling. Real GDP growth has averaged just 2.1 percent since the recession ended, compared to 3.3 percent averaged during the 25 years prior to the recession.
More recently, an improving housing market, resurgence in tourism and continuing boom in agriculture and energy exploration has added to the recovery of Western states. The economic winds are constantly changing, however, and the West now faces a new set of threats. Global economic growth has slowed, cutting into the region’s exports. With the Fed contemplating winding down its securities purchases, interest rates have increased, raising questions about what comes next for the budding recoveries in residential and commercial real estate.
We expect the western states to slightly outperform the nation during the next few years. California’s economy has gained considerable momentum over the past year, as strong growth in the technology sector has been joined by gains in tourism and entertainment and a rebound in home sales and residential construction. Overall, economic activity in California is now growing in line with its historical trend.
Wells Fargo continues to do its part to help the economy rebound through its consumer and business lending, providing business access to credit to help them grow. For the fifth consecutive year, Wells Fargo is the nation’s leading SBA lender in dollars, extending 3,481 SBA 7(a) loans nationwide totaling more than $1.47 billion – a 9.6 percent increase in units and an 18.3 percent increase in dollars from a year ago. Here in Los Angeles, we are #1 in volume and #2 in units with 245 SBA approved loans for $118MM.
For Wells Fargo Economic Insights, visit https://www.wellsfargo.com/com/insights/economics