California's City of Carson Is First to Adopt Model Ordinance for Location Production

5:00 AM PST 07/12/2012 by Laura Burdine

Government groups join together to encourage the state's cities and counties to replace a patchwork of local laws with standardized rules to help keep the entertainment industry from taking its movie and TV shoots elsewhere.

The city of Carson in Los Angeles County has become the first to adopt a new standardized statewide “model” ordinance designed to provide the entertainment industry with a uniform set of policies and procedures for on-location production.

The purpose of a standardized statewide ordinance is to streamline the film permitting process and send a clear signal that entertainment is a coveted industry that California intends to retain at a time there is increased competition for movie and TV productions from more than 40 U.S. states and numerous foreign countries.

“The Model Film Ordinance is a valuable tool for helping municipalities become more film-friendly,” says California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch. “Widespread adoption of the MFO will help Southern California create jobs and compete more effectively against runaway production.”

The plan to create a model set of rules for film and TV production in cities and towns throughout California (those done off studio lots) has been in the works since earlier this year. On May 1, the Model Film Ordinance and Best Practices plan was formally adopted by the California Film Commission. On July 5, the Southern California Association of Governments unanimously passed a resolution to encourage their members in 191 cities and six California counties to adopt the ordinance.

On Wednesday, the commission and SCAG were joined by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. and Film L.A. in endorsing the plan and encouraging use of the model ordinance. The Wednesday announcement said they “are partnering to support the important (task of) job creation and financial contribution(s) of the entertainment industry to our region’s economic recovery and sustained growth.”

“The bottom line is that we all share the same fundamental belief,” says Lemisch. “And that belief is that increasing entertainment production is good for our economy.”

Movie and TV production in California accounts for 176,700 jobs and $30 billion in annual spending in the Southern California region according to the LAEDC. The state legislature is currently considering a bill to extend a program of tax credits which provides $100 million annually to help keep movie and TV production in the state.

"Given California's persistent high unemployment rate, cities and counties are taking the lead locally to ensure that they retain important revenue generating industries and attract additional business,” says Glen Becerra, SCAG president and a Simi Valley city councilman. “Southern California is home to 'Hollywood' -- it is our heritage, but cannot be taken for granted.”

Becerra added that the model ordinance will send the message that “supporting the entertainment industry is critical to our region's economy and future. In addition, this is only the beginning of government, business and an industry specialist working together to adopt business-friendly principles that secure a prosperous California.”

The Carson City Council voted to revise their film ordinance June 6 and the model ordinance became effective July 6th. Carson is 16 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, in the South Bay. The city of almost 92,000, which consists of 19 square miles, is bordered by the city of Long Beach on the east, and the city of Torrance on the west.

Among the policies in the model ordinance are requirements that law enforcement be used only as needed; a reduction in the radius of the area required to notify businesses and residents when filming is taking place; and the elimination of the city’s business license requirement for film and TV productions.

“Carson has been the home of many productions over the years,” says Barry Waite, business development manager for the City of Carson. “Filmmakers told us our policies were getting in the way of getting the job done.”

Although thus far, Carson is the only California city to officially enact the new model ordinance, the cities of Simi Valley and Duarte are developing guidelines and are expected to vote on the model ordinance at upcoming city council meetings.

Lemisch is confident that many cities will follow Carson’s lead: “When any one city adopts the ordinance, there will be a noticeable difference. As more cities make the change, their neighbors will follow suit.”

“Despite being recognized as the entertainment capital of the world, Southern California must take additional steps to retain film and television production,” says LAEDC CEO and president Bill Allen. “So I encourage cities throughout Southern California to take SCAG’s unanimous support for film and television production to heart, adopt some version of the MFO/BP that fits their jurisdiction’s needs, and send a clear and loud message that filming is welcome and will always have a home in Southern California.”

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