GLENDALE — In a demonstration of regional cooperation, the cities of Glendale, Pasadena and Burbank are joining hands to invest in an innovative effort to jump-start the state's stalled economy.
The three cities have agreed to share the $50,000 cost of a membership in Project California, a collaborative, private-public effort to redirect beleaguered aerospace and defense resources into building new transportation and telecommunications industries.
The tri-city agreement is the first municipal enrollment in the project, led by a select, 24-member panel of state leaders. Forty-five other investors--including major companies, banks, transportation districts, utilities and labor organizations--have already pledged $2.4 million to the project, launched last June with the endorsement of Gov. Pete Wilson.
Officials of the three cities said they hope that their investment in the project will give them an advantage in enticing futuristic industries into the areas.
"It is very important for us to get in on the ground floor," Glendale Mayor Carl Raggio said last week before the City Council unanimously agreed to allocate $16,667 in Proposition A gas tax funds as its share of the membership fee.
The Burbank City Council on Tuesday approved a matching allocation, and the Pasadena City Council is scheduled to take similar action next week.
The pledges require approval by Los Angeles County transportation officials. Because the county also has joined the list of Project California investors, approval is expected.
Raggio said the three cities plan to use resources within the communities--such as the Lockheed Corp. facilities in Burbank, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and major engineering firms like Jacobs, Parsons and others in Pasadena, as well as local academic institutions--to establish centers for transportation and telecommunications development.
Pasadena has been working on a plan for more than 18 months to develop an Environmental TechnoPlex for research and development of environmental technology, said Yvonne Walkup, project manager for the Pasadena Housing and Development Department. She said the plan, called CLEANSTART, fits in with the Project California concept because non-polluting transportation and telecommunications are environmentally significant.
"Our council is eager to participate" in Project California, Walkup said, "because it will be beneficial for the whole region."
"The resources are already there," Raggio said. "We have the facilities to do research and development . . . and a cadre of personnel."
By investing in the coalition, the Glendale mayor said, the three cities will have a voice in planning new development.
The Metro Rail project, for instance, is expected to cost $183 billion over the next 30 years--the largest public works project undertaken in the nation. Much of the planning, development and support services could be supplied by firms and new industries within the three cities, officials said.
A total of $2.8 million is needed to launch Project California, said L. Donald Shields, executive director of the California Council on Science and Technology, a parent coalition of business, academic and labor leaders that formed the select panel.
The project is one of several designed to yank California out of a three-year-old recession deepened by cuts in defense spending and growing foreign competition.
Other efforts include CALSTART, a public-private partnership operating out of the former Lockheed plant in Burbank, which has been praised by legislators as making dramatic inroads into development of electric vehicles. Another is Team California, a coalition of economic development professionals from throughout the state who have joined forces to find solutions to turning around the sagging economy.
Project California and other efforts represent "the emergence of the early phases of a new way of approaching local economic development policy," said Allen Scott, director of UCLA's Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.
"The important thing about it is it represents a rather novel way of approaching a problem. Unlike the Reagan and Bush eras, we no longer are willing to leave everything to the so-called magic of the market," Scott said.
"In the United States, Europe and Japan, there are new kinds of attempts at institution building in the interest of economic growth," he said. "Project California is one of these institutions. It doesn't sit back and say the market will take care of everything."
Officials from the three cities said they were impressed by the membership on the select panel. The group is co-chaired by Roy Anderson, chairman emeritus of Lockheed Corp., and Malcolm Currie, chairman emeritus of Hughes Aircraft Co. Members include chief executives from major banks, businesses and universities.