Group sets goal of cooperation

A newly formed coalition of San Fernando Valley governments, including Burbank and Glendale, took steps this week to have members along the Interstate 5 work together more closely on developing the busy traffic corridor.

A report to the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments on Thursday said the I-5 corridor is an example of the diverse demographics and industries that could be the key to success for the new alliance of six jurisdictions.

A plan looking at the I-5 as an indicator for the entire Greater San Fernando Valley will serve as a roadmap for the council, made up of elected officials from each jurisdiction. It has met four times since being formed last July.

The plan, prepared by The McCarty Co., outlined four potential goals for the council, including fostering collaboration rather than competition among the jurisdictions, which include Los Angeles County and the cities of Los Angeles, San Fernando and Santa Clarita.

“Competition is still going to happen,” acknowledged Michael Shires of the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, who presented the plan.

However, in some cases, a jurisdiction’s proposal may be stronger if it works with another coalition member.

“For example, an entertainment company might want offices in Burbank, a large production facility in Santa Clarita and storage in the northeast San Fernando Valley,” said Bob Scott, who was appointed as the council’s first executive director on Thursday.

The report also suggested developing regional data-sharing, creating a “one-stop shop” for prospective employers and developers.

The coalition could also leverage the region’s strengths and diversity.

The plan targets four industries that are either strong or show potential — entertainment, aerospace/defense manufacturing, biotechnology and green technology.

The lucrative entertainment industry, in particular, could be a powerful source for new jobs and revenue, Shires said.

The plan calls for focus on key regional initiatives, such as transportation. While a major project to improve the I-5 is underway, the plan urged the council to also study expanding San Fernando Road and improving public transit flow.

Streamlining and standardizing the permit process across jurisdictions, specifically for codes and zoning, was also suggested in the report.

During the meeting, coalition members brought up other regional issues to tackle, such as emergency preparedness, education and housing.

Burbank City Councilman Jess Talamantes said he agrees with his L.A. counterpart, Tom LaBonge, who told members that the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments should keep its project list reasonable.

“We should focus on four or five things that we are good at,” Talamantes said. “Not 20 things we are mediocre at.”

Also on Thursday, amid concerns raised that the larger jurisdictions on the coalition could overpower smaller members, members decided that a representative from one of the smaller cities will always hold one of the elected positions of chair or vice-chair.

“We want to continue to maintain a balance, so no one feels slighted or overrun,” said Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who is the currently serving as vice-chairman of the coalition.

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