More than 300 business leaders representing the spectrum of Los Angeles' economic community gathered Wednesday to map plans for defeating Mayor Tom Bradley's proposed rush-hour truck ban.
A coalition of more than 13 major business associations announced plans to lobby against the proposal that they fear will cost billions of dollars annually in increased transportation costs, lost jobs and general business inefficiency.
"We don't call it a truck ban," Robert Crites, chairman of the California Trucking Assn., told the meeting in Norwalk. "We call it a business ban."
Trucks, he said, "are just the tools of commerce. If we restrict (them) then our customers are restricted. If we are banned, then our customers are banned."
The business community's concerns were fueled by a study released Wednesday that concluded "in light of the (truck management plan's) unproven benefits, we believe that it would be far too dangerous (to the economy) to adopt broad truck restrictions."
The study, conducted by UC Berkeley Prof. Randolf W. Hall for the CTA, said, "at a time when the L.A. economy is suffering from a recession, the truck management plan risks further erosion in the region's manufacturing base."
Bill Chandler, a spokesman for Bradley said: "The city has studies that show drastically different results. In some cases, costs do not rise at all."
He said business representatives have been involved in drafting the truck ban proposal for the past two years and he called the executives gathered Wednesday "the minority that doesn't want any regulation at all."
Tom Schumacher, executive vice president of the CTA, said he plans to hold additional educational workshops in various communities around the county during the next several months in an effort to enlist more businesses in a campaign to lobby the City Council.
Wednesday's meeting in Norwalk drew more than 300 businessmen from trucking, manufacturing, banking, food and retailing industries.
The meetings are the latest in a series of maneuvers by trucking interests to defeat the Bradley proposal. Last week, the CTA asked the state Public Utilities Commission for permission to boost shipping rates by 75% if the Los Angeles plan is implemented.
The truck ban proposal, designed to cut down on congestion and air pollution, could be delivered to the City Council for consideration within the next several weeks. The ordinance would ban 70% of three-axle trucks from using city streets from 6 a.m to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Any business receiving nine or more shipments a week in peak hours would be required to stay open at night to accept deliveries.
Among the groups sponsoring Wednesday's meeting were: California Manufacturers Assn.; Southern California Grocers Assn.; Western Growers Assn.; Los Angeles County Hotel/Motel Group; Los Angeles Air Cargo Assn.; California Restaurant Assn.; Foreign Trade Assn. of Southern California and the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County.