Los Angeles City Council to discuss extension of fee waiver for film productions on city property

The Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to discuss today the extension of a five-year fee waiver for film productions shot on city property, along with other measures aimed at combating runaway production.

The council will consider extending until June 30, 2019, a fee usually charged for filming on city-owned property, such as Los Angeles City Hall, libraries, airports and police facilities. Over the years City Hall has served as a set for TV shows such as “Scandal,” “The West Wing” and “Newsroom,” and such motion pictures as “Chinatown, “Gangster Squad” and “Mission Impossible 3.”

The waiver, enacted in 2006 and extended once, expired at the end of June. If approved by the City Council and signed by the mayor, the fee waiver would apply retroactively to July 1. Some properties would be exempt from the waiver, including the Convention Center, Olvera Street and the Los Angeles Zoo.

ADVERTISEMENT

City officials estimated the fee waivers may have cost the city about $1.75 million in lost revenue over the past five years, but the roughly $350,000 annual loss is acceptable, considering increased revenue from increased business and sales taxes.

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Film and TV Production Jobs, said the film and television industry “is essential to our city’s economy and to our cultural history.”

The fee waiver and other measures to be considered today “will simplify the film permitting process, incentivize filming at city-owned properties and show that Los Angeles is ready to improve the way it does business with the film industry,” Krekorian said. 

Other measures include having FilmL.A., the city-county permitting agency, keep records of the fees waived, the types of film productions that receive waivers and city properties booked for filming. The city also would analyze feedback from the film industry annually and free up parking at the Department of Water and Power’s downtown headquarters for use by the film industry.

Proposals also include hiring more staffers for the Department of Parks and Recreation film office and in the Transportation Department, which is responsible for posting of film-related street closing signs. City officials also would create a list of city-owned filming locations, or properties that can be used for parking or other production-related purposes.

In 2015, new tax incentives are expected to become available for producers. Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to make $330 million a year in tax credits available through a competitive application process. The move raised the pot offered by California above the previous $100 million and brings it closer to the $420 million a year offered by New York.