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Growth Monitor for Economic Development

Tracking the issues, programs, incentives, tax matters, and "lessons learned" affecting local economic development.
Hawaii is Adding Facial Recognition at Airports as an Additional COVID-19 Detection Measure

AEC Consumer Products Monitor


According to an August 28 report by Travel Weekly, Hawaii expects to have its facial recognition system in place and operating at five Hawaii airports, by year-end 2020.   The facial imaging will be used in conjunction with temperature screening cameras to assist in monitoring and tracking arriving passengers at the more than 130 gates at Hawaii’s airports receiving out-of-state and international flights.    Temperature screening cameras have already been installed at Hawaii’s airports.


With the screening cameras, any arriving passenger who registers a temperature above 100.4 degrees is asked to submit to a voluntary secondary screening conducted by paramedics.    The five Hawaii airports that will operate with the facial recognition technology are: Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye Airport; Kahului Airport; Lihue Airport; Ellison Onizuka Kona Airport at Keahole; and Hilo Airport.


There are privacy concerns about the roll-out of this technology in Hawaii.   But if deployed and effective it may make a significant contribution to Hawaii’s travel industry recovery.   The facial recognition measure is in addition to other measures going into effect in Hawaii, including geo-fencing of guests at their resorts.

Redevelopment Project Consultants - due diligence consultants
California SB 1120 Would Allow Lot Splits and/or Duplexes on Single Family Lots

AEC’s Growth Monitor


UPDATED:  SB 1120 did not pass this session, failing to meet California Senate voting deadline on September 1.


SB 1120 is nearing approval in California that would allow existing homeowners in the state to split their lots and built duplexes on each of the resulting subdivided parcels.   Where a lot split is not possible under the law’s guidelines, that homeowner would be able to convert the existing home into a duplex or raze the house and built a new duplex.   SB 1120 is authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), as part of an effort to bring more control of local land use planning to the state legislature.


State control versus local control of land use decisions is a complicated matter in California, related to the lasting protections of Proposition 13, the California Environmental Quality Act, affordable housing, community diversity and equity issues, and local municipal fiscal viability.  And overall there is the push and pull of progressive political agendas and sensibilities of suburbanites who have relied upon their local municipal general plans in shaping how their communities will develop.


Of interest to existing homeowners of course, is the open question as to how SB 1120 would affect the quality of life they’ve grown accustomed to (and relied upon), and the value of their properties now situated in eclectic neighborhoods with unpredictable futures.   It could work out well for all involved, but if SB 1120 is approved each municipality will have to do in balancing heights, sun/shade, setbacks, on-street parking, security, and the like, while local policing is likely also in some kind of reformation.


Click here to review the full bill as now drafted.


Office and Industrial Consultants
Port of Long Beach has Busiest July in its History; Other California Ports Also Spike

AEC’s Growth Monitor


Transport Topics reports that the ports of Oakland, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, have stayed busy during California’s fires, and in fact have seen busy summer volumes.   For the Port of Long Beach, July 2020 activity was an all-time record.


The Port of Oakland saw a 33.4% increase in units processed in July 2020, over the same period in 2019.   The Port of Long Beach reported July 2020 was the busiest month in its 109-year history – some 753,081 TEUs, a 21% increase as compared to July 2019.   At the nation’s busiest port – the Port of Los Angeles – although units processed for July were not record-breaking the results for July were still the best of 2020 (so far), some 856,389 TEUs processed for the month.


Transport Topics reviewed port operating results for facilities throughout the U.S.   California’s three ports mentioned here were among the best reported.  The Port of Baltimore was among those ports still showing the largest activity drops since same reporting periods in 2019.  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not have July numbers at press time.


The full article at Transport Topics’ website is an interesting read and can be viewed by clicking here: Ports Say Business Beginning to Recover

Public sector - Economic Development Consultants - Tourism Destination Strategy Consultants
New Research Reveals “Key Drivers” to Propel Urban Economies

AEC’s Growth Monitor


Researchers at Northwestern University have just published some interesting research, about “The universal pathway to innovative urban economies.”   The researchers analyzed industrial employment and population changes in 350 U.S. cities between 1998 and 2013, including over 100 million workers.


Key conclusions from the research include an observation that innovative economies start to emerge when an urban population reaches about 1.2 million people.   Along with this scale inference, the researchers noted that the transition to an innovative economy depends upon a a city’s ability to attract and retain certain “superlinear industries.”  Superlinear industries include the arts, entertainment, professional services, science, and information technology, each of which can grow out of proportion to underlying population growth.


As reported in SciTechDaily, one of the researchers wonders if the remote work promulgated by the COVID-19 virus and distancing may slow down the rate of innovation, in general.   The thinking is that innovation may require the spontaneous and serendipitous insights that come with incidental human interactions.    This insight certainly rings true for those that have managed collaborative and creative teams; sometimes the best ideas emerge even as the linear ideation and problem-solving proceeds.


An excellent review of the research is available at SciTechDaily, HERE.   The research as published is available for full review on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by clicking here: AAAS Research – The Universal Pathway to Innovative Urban Economies.

Opportunity Zone Consultants
Transfer of Development Rights Programs as a Revenue Tool for Local Governments

As local governments explore means to enhance their fiscal situation, transfer of development rights (“TDR”) programs may offer one worthy tool for immediate consideration.   TDR Programs are, simply, a voluntary and incentivized (typically) means to sell all or a portion of the development rights associated with a particular property, to a third-party who can use these development rights at another property.


Successful TDR Programs will have specific objectives for “transfer out” properties (such as conservation easements) along with specific objectives for the “transfer in” properties (such as enhanced densities to increase feasibility).   The “transfer out” property owner can still use the property in perpetuity (such as for agriculture or public park) for without the right to raze and further develop the “transfer out” property.


It is conceivable that local cities and counties, even states and state agencies, to create comprehensive TDR Programs that create local government TDR banks of considerable value.    Particularly at a time when municipal zoning and its objectives are ripe for discussion.   Consider – if “single family” residential neighborhoods are being evaluated for all manner of housing inserts, presumably for affordability, diversity, and equity purposes, … why not explore how general plan updates might include public/private (P3) partnerships across public parks where portions of parks are granted P3 development rights (fabricating new TDR’s of actual value).   Such fabricated TDR’s can then be used in place, used to offset public asset operating costs, or, fully transferred as TDR’s to a “transfer in” site.   With this fabricated land value that had not already existed, the local government achieves a new revenue source for sound public purpose.

Film studio conceptual design - Adventure Entertainment Cos.
California Dept. of Public Health Announces Return to Film Production as of June 12



On June 5 (yesterday), the California Department of Public Health provided its guidance that music, TV and film production can resume in California as of June 12, 2020.   The state approval is subject to further approval by county public health officers following their review of local epidemiological data including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, and local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing and testing.


According to the state CDPH website, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers.  Back office staff and management should adhere to Office Workspace guidelines published by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Industrial Relations, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.


Such enhancements as CDPH refers to include the white paper released be the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force associated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”).   That white paper entitled “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Productions During the COVID-19 Pandemic was published on June 1, 2020.   For the convenience of our clients, that white paper is available here:    AMPTP COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines



COVID-19 guidelines
White Paper is Released Regarding Covid-19 Production Guidelines


A white paper has been released, titled “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Productions During the COVID-19 Pandemic (June 1, 2020).”   The guidelines are presented by the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force associated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”).


As a courtesy to our studio and production clients, we have provided a download of the white paper here (we had trouble finding the document):


COVID-19 Production Guidelines


According to its website since 1982, AMPTP has acted as the trade association “responsible for negotiating virtually all industry-wide guild and union contracts, including those with American Federation of Musicians (AFM); Directors Guild of America (DGA); International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); Laborers Local 724; Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA); Teamsters, Local #399; and Writers Guild of America (WGA) among others.   The AMPTP, the entertainment industry’s official collective bargaining representative, negotiates 58 industry-wide collective bargaining agreements on behalf of hundreds of motion picture and television producers.”


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