June 26, 2017 

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti today joined the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to celebrate the completion of a historic rooftop solar project that will generate enough renewable energy to power more than 5,000 homes.

The 16.4 Megawatt (DC) Westmont Solar Energy Project in San Pedro will produce over 28 million Kilowatt-hours of electricity every year, making it the most powerful rooftop solar project in the world.

“We are putting sustainability at the center of everything we do in Los Angeles — and that means investing boldly to expand the use of renewable energy,” said Mayor Garcetti. “While Washington buries its head in the sand, we are carrying the fight against climate change forward in our city, and the Westmont Solar Energy Project is strong evidence of our commitment to a sustainable future.”

The project is part of Los Angeles’ rooftop solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program, the largest of its kind in America. The FiT program enables the owners of large buildings to install solar panels on their roofs, and sell the power they generate back to LADWP for distribution into the power grid.

“Our goal is to create a clean energy future for Los Angeles and solar is a big part of our strategy,” LADWP General Manager David H. Wright said. “Along with helping spur the clean energy economy in Los Angeles and meeting renewable energy goals, the expansion of local solar builds more resiliency and reliability into the power grid. Local solar systems are like mini power plants that generate power right where it is being used, saving on transmission costs and taking advantage of the city’s abundant sunshine to help meet electrical demand.”

The Westmont project includes more than 50,000 solar panels, covering 50 acres of roof space. It ranks second in size only to the solar project at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino — though Westmont’s highly efficient solar panels and unique roof design will enable it to surpass that project in total power generation.

 The project advances several of the goals outlined in Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainable City pLAn, including the expansion of renewable energy use and eliminating the use of coal power.

The new solar project was developed by PermaCity Solar, together with building owner BlackRock and financial partners True Green Capital and GAF. Through a partnership with EmPower America, the country’s first Veteran Workforce Development Organization, the project trained 50 veterans in project management, roofing, and electrical skills. Through its program, EmPower has trained and employed more than 25,000 veterans in return for tax benefits.

“The way this project came together — its design, the installation and the financing — satisfies everybody,” said Jonathan Port, CEO of PermaCity Solar. “The workers get high pay, the owner gets a new roof, and the City gets the power. It’s nice when we can make all that happen.”

The Los Angeles Business Council was also a critical partner on the project.

“California has led the way in demonstrating climate change policy and economic growth aren’t mutually exclusive,” said Mary Leslie, LABC president. “With the Westmont opening, we are once again distinguishing ourselves as national leaders capitalizing on the economic promise the FiT program has to offer.”

To learn more about solar FiT projects in Los Angeles, visit




October 23, 2015 

Mayor Garcetti Signs Executive Directive to Prioritize Affordable Housing Development & Sets New Goal to Build 15,000 Units of Affordable Housing by 2021

At last year’s MHTJ Summit, Mayor Garcetti announced his 100,000 new unit housing goal by 2021. Last Friday at the 2015 Annual Mayoral Housing Transportation and Jobs Summit, the Mayor announced a new target to construct or preserve 15,000 affordable units by 2021 as part of his eight-year housing production goal. The Mayor signed Executive Directive No. 13 at Friday’s Summit to prioritize affordable housing development. 

The Directive calls for the General Managers of the Department of City Planning, Building and Safety and Housing and Community Investment to:

    • Prioritize case management of new housing developments of 10 or more units that provide at least 20% of on-site rental units affordable for low-income households or 30% of on-site for sale units affordable to low-to-moderate income households;
    • Set expedited processing targets for qualified affordable housing developments to reduce initial processing times for entitlement applications and permits by 25%;
    • Submit a Housing Scorecard every three months, beginning in January of 2016, to track the City’s progress in reaching its 100,000 new unit goal;
    • And, designate an Affordable Housing Liaison for each Department that would be a part of a newly formed Mayor’s Affordable Housing Cabinet comprised of the liaisons, senior managers from the three Departments, and representatives designated by the Mayor.

The Mayor also called on the City to continue contributing $10 million or more annually from it’s general fund for affordable housing.

Mayor Garcetti also announced the City’s plan to study a citywide development fee, known as a “linkage fee”, that would be linked to market rate development based on the size of new projects in the City. The LABC looks forward to reviewing the details and the impacts of such a fee. 

LABC Endorses Councilman Gil Cedillo’s House LA Initiative

The House LA Initiative includes seven motions to address the housing crisis in LA including such reforms as modifying Site Plan Review, permitting micro unit housing and expediting the EIR process in the Planning Department. The motions aim to cut red tape and streamline building in LA. 

To help expand the City of Los Angeles’ housing production, the LABC has worked with City Council Housing Committee Chairman Gil Cedillo to develop policies designed to reform the current permitting system. This includes proposals designed to expedite the environmental review process dictated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and increase the City’s staffing capacity, including the use of technical specialists, to ensure timely review of environmental documents required under CEQA.

The numbers reveal the importance of continued development reform. Currently, 49 projects totaling nearly 25,000 units of newly-proposed housing units are in the City’s approval pipeline, and are subject to environmental impact reports (EIRs) – voluminous documents that require extensive staff time to prepare and modify throughout the city approval process. That is in addition to over 600 additional environmental cases pending in the Planning Department.

“Councilman Cedillo’s House LA Initiative has enormous promise to move the needle on the City’s ability to meet the Mayor’s 100,000 unit housing goal by dramatically shortening the processing time for EIRs up to 30% to 50%, reducing the cost to developers and creating new housing units the city needs,” said LABC President Mary Leslie. 

Casey Wasserman, Chairman of LA24 Olympic Bid Committee, Business Keynote Highlights 

As the official U.S. nominee to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, Wasserman is spearheading the efforts to bring the games back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1984. With 85% of the venues in our Games Plan already built or planned as permanent facilities, Los Angeles is ideally positioned to deliver an environmentally friendly and fiscally responsible Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The most significant new facility is the Olympic Village, which when converted to affordable and market rate housing after the Games, represents a welcome opportunity to address our housing shortage and promote private investment. The Olympic Village will accommodate nearly 17,000 athletes, and can be converted to roughly 5,000 units of permanent market rate and affordable housing at the conclusion of the games.  

 LA 2024 is committed to hosting a profitable and fiscally responsible Games. If selected, the city would exercise careful control over the budget. And with the 1932 and 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games both producing surpluses, the city has proven that we are ready for that responsibility. 

Watch the highlights on ABC 7 here! 

PHOTO: Casey Wasserman, Nadine Watt, President, Watt Companies, LABC Chair, and summit emcee The Honorable Henry Cisnernos, Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, CEO, Cityview 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Details New Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan, County Economic Development Trust Fund

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaking as the lunch keynote outlined his new motion introduced last Tuesday to create a County Economic Development Trust Fund that would provide loans to small and medium-sized manufacturers, as well as technical support to the bioscience industry, among other industry sectors. The Trust Fund will support other emerging industries, such as aerospace, health services and trade; renovate old storefronts to revitalize local commercial corridors; and expand joint investments with cities and community-based economic development organizations.

Today, the Los Angeles Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously to pass the Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan, proposed by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Keuhl. The plan creates an Affordable Housing Programs fund, beginning with $20 million in Fiscal Year 2016-17 and scaling up to $100 million annually by FY 2020-21 with at least 75% of the funds dedicated specifically to building new or preserving existing affordable housing. This new money will be dedicated to creating and operating both short and long-term affordable housing for a variety of vulnerable populations.

Read the full transcript of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ keynote 

 View the panel presentation: New Strategies and Resources to Address LA County’s Housing Crisis: Increasing Housing Production and Building Transit - Oriented Communities 

Read the LABC Press Release: Achieving Mayor’s 100,000 Unit Housing Goal by 2021 Creates Opportunity to Bolster Economy, Enhance Affordability and Support City’s Olympic Dreams 

los angeles business council president mary leslie’s remarks on the signing of the gross receipts tax reduction

february 11, 2015 

Good morning. It is an honor to be here this morning to underscore the importance of the reduction of the gross receipts tax as an important economic development tool for the City of Los Angeles.

The LABC has long focused on supporting comprehensive and complementary economic development strategies for Los Angeles. This includes relieving the tax burden, creating workforce housing and investing in our transportation infrastructure, including the expansion of public transit.

We appreciate Mayor Garcetti’s leadership in all of these areas. The LABC especially agrees with the Mayor’s premise that meeting the City’s housing needs is an integral part of growing the City’s economy. 

We’ve also studied carefully Major Garcetti’s comprehensive economic proposal and agree that raising the minimum wage to increase aggregate income of hard-working Angelenos is one component of an overall plan that will improve the economic health of our city.

It is in this spirit that the Los Angeles Business Council endorses Mayor Garcetti’s entire economic development approach – including affordable housing, business tax relief and an increase in the minimum wage.

These strategies reflect LABC’s priorities to make Los Angeles more competitive when attracting and growing businesses – large and small.

The critical shortage of affordable housing will not be addressed by increasing wages alone.  LABC endorses the Mayor’s strategy of an increase in wages coupled with an increase in the supply of affordable and workforce housing. As part of that approach, LABC believe it is critical to grow the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and appreciate the Mayor’s commitment to get that done. 

We also appreciate the Mayor’s leadership on Metro’s effort for more inclusive Transit-Oriented Development planning. This includes expediting permitting for workforce housing development near public transit hubs.  Again, these initiatives will help translate higher wages into housing opportunities and improved quality of life for lower income, working Angelenos.

Finally, the LABC endorses the realistic approach reflected in the deliberations of the City Council on the minimum wage proposal; it is vital for the minimum wage plan to allow for exceptions and mitigations, which are designed to ease the impact on the business community.


los angeles mayor and the los angeles business council delegates announce the opening of the shanghai tower 

November 21, 2014 

Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the Los Angeles Business Council’s official mayoral delegation held a press conference Wednesday to announce the grand opening of the Shanghai Tower in 2015. The Shanghai Tower, built by Los Angeles based architectural firm Gensler in the Luijazui Financial Center in Pudong New Area, will be the tallest building in China. The 121 story mixed used building rising 2,073 feet will be one of the world’s most advanced sustainable tall buildings.

Los Angeles Business Council member and Gensler’s Regional Managing Principle Rob Jernigan welcomed Garcetti, Los Angles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Curren Price, Mike Bonin and Joe Buscaino to tour the construction site and announce the 2015 opening.

The Los AngelesBusiness Council  is honored to lead Mayor Garcetti’s official business delegation this week in Shanghai and Beijing. The delegation will travel to Beijing on Thursday. 

March 2, 2014

The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) is honored to be part of Mayor Garcetti’s inaugural international trade mission. We arrived in Mexico City earlier today, and just participated in an exciting welcome reception with the LA delegation and our gracious hosts.

Los Angeles and Mexico face many of the same challenges, but also the same opportunities for growth and prosperity. One particularly promising growth area is solar energy.

Mexico, like LA, is very familiar with the tremendous economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy and local solar power. Solar spurs job creation and investment, and helps reduce reliance on electricity fueled by polluting fossil fuels.

The LABC has been the lead advocate in supporting Mayor Garcetti’s goal of creating and expanding LA’s trailblazing CLEAN LA Solar feed-in-tariff program. We are encouraged to see Mexico adopt a national renewable goal of 35% as part of the country’s efforts to decentralize its energy production!

Today, our delegations celebrated two great neighbors working together as global partners for environmental and economic sustainability. The LABC is dedicated to strengthening the sustainable economy of the Los Angeles region, and our partnership with Mexico plays a critical role in advancing that goal.

LABC President
Mary Leslie 



LABC President and Mexico City Delegation hosted by LABC Institute Featured at NBC4 News

February 19, 2014

The LABC Institute (LABCi), in partnership with Mayor Eric Garcetti, hosted Mexico City’s Secretary of Economic Development, Salomón Chertorivski Woldenberg, for a three-day business development mission designed to strengthen ties between the two economies, which have become increasingly interdependent in recent years. The visit is part of the preparations for the Mayor’s upcoming trade mission to Mexico, March 2-5.


LABC President Featured in the Los Angeles Times Business Section

July 26, 2013

For Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council, reviving the organization is one of her proudest career achievements.

The gig: As president of the Los Angeles Business Council, Mary Leslie, 53, covers a lot of ground. On any given day, she might be meeting with major contributors to evaluate progress on a grant, driving to the San Fernando Valley to check out a fledgling solar installation company or researching an initiative to stop storm runoff from reaching the ocean.

Read More


FIT Program for LA Launches February 1st!

January 25, 2013

The Los Angeles Business Council is proud to announce that LA’s 100 MW Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Program will be launched by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) February 1st! This is the first release of a planned 150 MW FiT program.

This program is the culmination of four years of work on the part of the LABC, LABC Institute, the CLEAN LA Coalition, and our research partners JR DeShazo of UCLA and Manuel Pastor of USC. We applaud the vision of our Mayor Villaraigosa who proposed the ambitious solar program for LA in 2008, which included a 150 MW FiT to help meet and satisfy our Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) required by the state. We also commend the leadership of the LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols and his staff, current and former City Council Presidents Eric Garcetti and Herb Wesson, and City Council Energy & Environment Committee members and Chair, José Huizar, for their integral support of this program.

Read More