No sentient public official in Los Angeles needs to be told that film and television production jobs are a crucial component of the economic present and future. The problem has been that too many local politicians haven't really committed to protecting jobs even as other localities are offering huge incentives to lure them away.

Recently, however, the Los Angeles City Council signaled a new willingness to foster a home industry by unanimously approving Mayor Richard Riordan's proposal to combine the city and county film permitting offices into one nonprofit agency. It's a big move, one that we hope will be emblematic of a new and more congenial relationship between government and business.

Consolidation of film permitting operations will reduce the time it takes filmmakers to get the green light for on-location shoots--in some cases to a matter of hours. (Some problematic requests, such as those that involve using pyrotechnics or filming in areas that would be heavily affected, would take several days.) However, the merger will not sacrifice safety or consideration for neighborhoods.

Whether this latest move by the City Council to make Los Angeles friendlier to business was born out of greater sensitivity or economic necessity (or both) is not the issue. What's important is that government continue to focus on reducing unnecessary regulations that force business people and entrepreneurs to take the bureaucratic equivalent of the long march across China. For economic well-being, excessive red tape has got to go.

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