Filming is an important source of incomeAltadena is a very popular area for on-location shooting. Based on the best available data, there is, on an average week day, five permitted film companies shooting in our community. These film productions provide an important source of income for many Altadeneans — especially for those who host the film shoots.
The compensation for hosting a film shoot can be substantial. The money may make the difference for a kitchen remodel, or a college tuition, or a long dreamed of vacation. In addition, some nearby neighbors may also receive compensation. No question: the money is important.
Filming can be disruptiveBut money is not all that's important. Film shoots are disruptive. They change the tenor of our neighborhoods. It can be upsetting to have your block lined with 40-foot trucks and porta-potties. Or having 60 strangers creating a commotion outside your house. Or having your street blocked. Or getting a spotlight trained on your house. Or enduring diesel exhaust from generator fumes. Or finding out that production vehicles have occupied all the customer parking spaces outside your establishment. Or getting dismissed by a condescending law officer who won't leave the squad car to direct traffic when double parked production trucks and crew vehicles make your street unsafe.
Who is right?
Sadly the discussion often devolves into to a simple black-and-white formula: Either you're for or against filming. The issue is divisive. When a film crew shows up, ill-feeling may crop up between neighbors who resent the intrusion and those who are earning an important supplement to their income.
What's fair?There's a better way. A way that's fair. Filming in moderation provides hosts with the opportunity to earn those extra dollars while guaranteeing the neighborhood that the filming will not be excessive and that the production will be conducted according to the permitted conditions. In practise, that means there must be guidelines for a reasonable level of filming activity, well-established filming conditions and a pledge from the permitting authorities and law officers that those conditions will be enforced.
Some might say that filming restrictions chase away film productions. But this is not the case. The neighboring communities of Arcadia, Pasadena, La Canada, Pasadena and South Pasadena all have restrictions on the frequency of filming and filming conditions. Yet, they all have a robust schedule of film productions. Conditions on filming will not scare off film shoots.
What about Altadena? Are there conditions or restrictions that govern film shoots in Altadena?
Aside from film shoots with pornographic subjects and the few neighborhoods with Special Filming Conditions, there are no conditions or restrictions. No restrictions on frequency, no restrictions on weekends or holidays shoots, and no restrictions on hours of production. In other words, there are no conditions or restrictions on film shoots in most Altadena neighborhoods.
In our view, the right thing is to strive to protect both the rights of a neighbor who want to host a film shoot and right of neighbors to live in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. It need not be either/or.
What is the right balance? What do you think? Let us know.