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Showing posts with label LACO Ordinance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LACO Ordinance. Show all posts

November 11, 2018

Altadena Filming Committee submits report on filming permit accountability

The Altadena Filming Committee has prepared a report addressing accountability in Los Angeles County’s filming permit approval and enforcement processes. The report was prepared in response to the issue raised most often to the Committee: the lack of accountability by County departments.

The report is the result of an 18-month committee effort reviewing the County’s official documents and interviewing the County officials and contractors responsible for filming permits. The report identifies gaps between the required duties and current practice. It concludes with findings intended to explain how accountability problems arise from those gaps and provides a set of recommendations intended to address them.

The Committee report lists the following findings:
  • The agency responsible for approving filming permit applications and assessing filming impact lacks enforcement authority and the agency with enforcement authority does not assess nor mitigate any disruptive impacts of filming.

  • The authority to regulate filming frequency is vested in a County ordinance, but no County department appears to take responsibility for enforcing the ordinance.

  • The Terms and Conditions of a filming permit provide County officials with limited options for enforcement of filming permit conditions. The choices are suspend, revoke, cancel, or amend the permit. Given the draconian nature of each option, these options are seldom applied.

  • None of the County departments was able to provide written documentation of its filming permit approval and enforcement policies. The information about permits comes from informal verbal responses that are often inconsistent.

Based on the Committee’s findings, the Committee made the following recommendations:
  • Unify the permit application evaluation and approval process into a single office.

  • Provide additional enforcement mechanisms that can be reasonably applied to enforce of filming permit conditions.

  • Require that the Permit Authority specify an on-set County representative who has been delegated the authority to enforce permit conditions.

  • Institute a program of documenting the County’s permit approval and enforcement policies.

The Filming Committee's report may be timely. According to the County's Film Liaison, Gary Smith, the County is preparing a revision to the County's filming-related ordinances. The Town Council has sent the report to Supervisor Barger with an appeal to help improve accountability on the part of the County departments.

The letter to Supervisor Barger and the Committee report are available on the Altadena Town Council Website

September 5, 2018

Altadena Filming Committee raises concerns about County CEO inputs to new filming ordinance

LA County is in the process of revising its filming ordinance. The revision was requested by the Board of Supervisors in in May 2017.

According to the County's Film Liaison, Gary Smith, "The goal of the revisions is to clarify language as it relates to enforcement of permit conditions, criteria used to approve permits, and other areas of the Code that will strengthen the County’s role in facilitating responsible filming." This could be the first major revision to the principal filming ordinance1 in nearly 30 years.

The revisions to the County code could be of special interest to Altadeneans since District 5 is the busiest filming district in the County and Altadena is the busiest filming township in District 5. (see First look: permit data for unincorporated communities in LA County)

The Town Council has recently posted correspondence between the Filming Committee and the LA County CEO about the new ordinance. In that exchange, the Committee raised issues about a letter signed by Jim Jones, the CEO's Chief Operation Officer. The Committee was concerned that this letter from the CEO might mislead the County officials who are drafting the new ordinance.

The Committee's response called out the following areas of concern:
  • The CEO's letter stated that law enforcement was required for any filming in Altadena. The committee was concerned that the authors of the new ordinance might misunderstand the CEO and conclude that the presence of a law officer was a sufficient to enforce permit conditions.

  • The CEO's letter listed criteria used for evaluating and enforcing a filming permit. Those evaluation criteria included considerations of duration, proximity, frequency and "any other criteria relevant." The Committee noted that the criteria and methods used for permit approval and enforcement were not documented and subject to being inconsistent and unfair. Consequently, the committee was concerned that these listed criteria might be mistakenly perceived to be sufficient to address known permit violations.

  • The CEO's letter stated that Community filming surveys are required when filming is requested beyond normal hours. 2 The Committee noted that Community members have raised numerous complaints that the surveys are perfunctory and unresponsive. The committee was concerned that these surveys may be mistakenly perceived as effective methods for assessing the concerns of nearby residents and businesses.
The Committee's letter concluded with a request to meet with the CEO for the purpose of drafting a follow-on memo that would prevent possible misunderstandings from influencing the draft of the new ordinance.

Gary Smith, the County's Film Liaison, responded to the Filming Committee. He pointed out that the CEO inputs were only intended to clarify current procedures. They were not recommendations. He went on to say that FilmL.A. responds to complaints in a "timely and constructive manner." He also clarified that law enforcement is not required for all filming and that Community surveys are always required when normal hours are exceeded or "the filming conditions might have detrimental impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods."

The entire correspondence between the CEO and the Altadena Filming Committee is available at

A final note of special interest: According to Mr. Smith, the draft revision of the filming ordinance will be ready fpr public comment early next month. There are supposed to be public meetings. Perhaps there will be a meeting in Altadena.

Stay tuned.

1 Chapter 2.118 - Filming Permit Coordination Office, Ord. 90-0093 § 3, 1990.)
2 Board policy 3.125 states the hours are 7a-10p.

August 4, 2017

CEO responds to Filming Committee Report: Effective remedy? Bland reassurance?

Back in the old school days, we would explain away any inexplicable coincidence with a standard refrain:
24 hours in a day. 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.
(The last phrase was always recited in unison.)
If you happen to be interested in the County's management of filming, consider this intriguing coincidence:
On May 2nd the County Supervisors instructed LA County Counsel "to review... and provide recommended ammendments to the County Code, as, to ensure...enforcement authority to address violations of the film permitting process..."

By pure chance, on June 20th, the Altadena Filming Committee submitted its End of Year Report. The report included recommendations that addressed issues and concerns about filming raised by Altadenans.
Here was an a rare opportunity for the Town Council to influence the formulation of new County Codes — after all, we are just forty thousand in a County of ten million. On June 21st, the Council voted to send the Filming Committee's report to Supervisor Barger. Barger then forwarded that report to the County CEO with the request that they review the report and provide their own inputs.

On July 5th, The County CEO sent a response to the Town Council. AltadenaFilming has obtained a copy of that letter thanks to the generous cooperation of the County's Film Liaison.*

In a nutshell, the CEO's letter said that the County will "take into consideration the Altadena Town Council Filming Committee's recommendations" and then provided "additional input" to be used in the amendment process.

Here is that 'input' excerpted directly from the CEO's letter:
  • The following is considered when evaluating a permit:
    1. Location, duration and frequency of filming at the hosting property, including historical use
    2. Location, duration and frequency of activity near the requested location, including parking areas
    3. Proximity of concurrent filming activities and other activities such as street maintenance
    4. Production company size, number of filming days requested and proposed activities, including parking
    5. Any other criteria that may be relevant to the specific situation
  • Generally, the CHP or the Sheriff are required for any filming in the Altadena area for safety and/or filming related activity, including parking.
  • FiImLA currently maintains notes regarding specific community issues, concerns or complaints related to such issues as generator placement and parking restrictions at specific locations.
  • FiImLA has a review process in place for frequently used properties. Properties of concern a re currently flagged in FiImLA's On-Line Permitting System (OPS) and requests to film at these locations require additional review and discussion with a FiImLA Operations Manager (OM). The OM will direct the FiImLA Coordinator to contact affected stakeholders to discuss the filming request, and determine next steps in addressing concerns or potential issues.
  • The County requires that a Community Filming Survey be done for film permit requests that film more than five consecutive days in a row or outside of the normal filming hours. The radius to be surveyed is established by FiImLA based on the location, filming activity, and parking requirements. It is the responsibility of the Production Company to conduct the survey and return the responses back to FiImLA with enough time for FiImLA to evaluate the survey package and make permit adjustments as necessary. FiImLA can arrange review of Community Film Surveys at their office.
  • Riders are issued for minor changes to a film permit. Riders are not used to authorize late night or all-night shoots.
The list corresponds to the current practices often described in public meetings by FilmLA and other County representatives. If taken at face value, these practices might just be sufficient to remedy all the issues raised in the Filming Committee's End of Year Report. If that were true, why bother amending the County Code?

But, are these current practices really effective?

Last year NBC4 reported that, in 2015, FilmLA received nearly 3,000 complaints about filming. And, at the Altadena Town Hall on Filming this past Spring, over a hundred community members turned out to raise concerns.

If current practices were effective, why so many issues and concerns?

The CEO's list may provide a clue. The items on the list are heavy on discretion and light of the specifics that determine permit content and approval. For example: They use different criteria, like filming frequency to evaluate a permit application, but how are those criteria used? How frequent is too frequent? Is the evaluation arbitrary? They say that a law officer is generally required on a shoot? What are the grounds for an exception? In those exceptional cases, who ensures filming conditions are met? They point out that community surveys are required, but does the methodology warrant a reliable result? They say they maintain notes about community issues, but what end do they serve? If these notes are part of the decision process, who ensures these notes are accurate?

Without constraining specifics, the film permitting process is open ended, and the CEO's 'additional input' amounts to little more that a recital of bland reassurances — essentially an appeal to trust the status quo.

How could we tell? Is the current practice, as described in the CEO's list, effective practice or bland reassurance? More importantly, how could a conscientious staff attorney in the County Counsel's office tell?

Getting a few facts would go a long way towards getting things right. If AltadenaFilming found itself in the difficult position of formulating fair-minded amendments to the County Code, here's a few things we would want to know about the "additional input":
  • Are the specifics described in governing documents? If not, why not?
  • Are these requirements on the permitting process or are just informal guidance?
  • If these are requirements, how does the County currently ensure all the listed activities are performed?
  • How does the County currently determine if current practice is effective?
  • How does the County currently determine if issues like those documented in the End of Year Report are the result of insufficient enforcement tools?
There's a point to those questions: You cannot enforce a rule if you don't know what it is. You cannot improve a rule unless unless you know its intent. And, you cannot know if a rule meets its intended purpose unless you assess its effectiveness.

No telling what pressures might be pressing of the County Counsel. Perhaps they will have the independence to examine the underlying film permitting process as part of their effort to amend the County code. If they do, we hope they make those discoveries publicly available — it would be a significant first step towards making the film permitting process more transparent.

* The County's Film Liasion manages the FilmLA contract. Among other duties, they are responsible for conducting annual performance reviews of FilmLA. The Office of the County Film Liaison has recently been moved from the County's CEO office of Office of Unincorporated Area Services to the Office of Economic Development Affordable Housing Division.

May 26, 2017

LA County Supervisors seek a "film friendly environment"

A little over month ago, FilmLA reported a dip in feature-film production: there were 416 fewer on-location shoot days this year than for the same period last year. That's a drop of 36%. While the total drop for on-location shooting days was just 2.2% (9,496 this year compared to 9,703 last year), the decrease is noteworthy because features tend to have large crews.

It would appear that this FilmLA report caught the attention of our County Supervisors. Not long after the report appeared, our Supervisors passed a resolution for the County CEO to investigate ways to "enhance collaboration and support of the film industry." They want the County to take a "proactive role in retaining and growing [the] industry."

Here's a list of the actions the Supervisors put on the CEO's to-do list with a smattering of AF commentary:
  • "...Examine the CEO Film Liaison’s responsibilities and report back to the Board in 60 days with recommendations to strengthen its role in facilitating filming and relationships with film production entities;"
    AF commentary: Board members say have heard from film companies representatives that many County facilities (e.g. beaches) are great for filming, but working through the County bureaucracy is too complicated. The film companies need 1-stop shopping.

    There is a small mystery here. Who is the CEO's Film Liaison? They can't be googled and you won't find this person on the CEO's website. We've send out a query and will update this posting if we get a reply.
  • " film and license fees charged by the County and Non-Profit Foundations operating on County-owned property and report back to the Board in 60 days with recommended reductions, in order that Los Angeles County can be competitive with other local jurisdictions;
    AF commentary: FilmLA provides an outline of the cost for some LA County locations. To see the fees for locations like beaches click here.
  • "...coordinate with the Departments of Regional Planning, Parks, Public Works, Fire and the Sheriff’s Department, and any other appropriate County code enforcement department to review and, within 60 days, provide recommended amendments to the County Code, as necessary, to ensure that County departments have the necessary enforcement authority to address violations of the film permitting process by property owners and production companies.
    AF commentary: Is it the Supervisors intention to look at enforcement of filming permits in general? Possibly. Consider this from the preamble to the motion
    "...[Since] the County wants to encourage a film friendly environment, we must also be assured that private property owners and production companies adhere to the permitting and licensing processes established by the County; and that the County has the enforcement tools needed to ensure compliance and lessen potential filming related impacts on our local communities. To that end, the County Code sections related to film permitting and enforcement should be reviewed and, if necessary, amended to allow appropriate enforcement and compliance with the County Code."
    The current County code says little about the enforcement of filming permit conditions. There are methods of enforcement described in the FilmLA contract and the 'Terms and Conditions' associated with each permit; however, enforcement is very coarse grained. There is only one enforcement option: permit cancellation.

    For links to the relevant ordinances or the FilmLA contract and what they say about enforcement, check out our Legalities and Analysis tab.
If you happened to attended the Filming Town Hall or read the minutes, you will recall that permti enforcement was a main area of concern. Perhaps our Supervisor Barger got wind of the meeting. Perhaps there's this is an effort to address some of the those concerns. Or perhaps it's just coincidence.

What ever the case, something important may be about to happen.

April 21, 2017

Are you covered?

Not long ago, I ran across a story about a filmmaker who got caught filming without a permit. Here's what happened.
"He [a fire marshal] essentially said to me, he didn’t care [if I had a permit] so long as I had done something to make the effort, but in good conscience he couldn’t just turn a blind eye. Meanwhile the permit office called around two and rejected my permit, but said I could probably get it for Thursday if I could hold off until then. I told them maybe and that I’d get back to her. We wrapped the location at 4 pm. The next day our production wrapped all together."
As a card-carrying member of the if-something-can-go-wrong-it-will club, I couldn't help but wonder: what if there had been an accident? What if this film shoot didn't have insurance? Who pays?

FilmLA's Contract
Details of the FilmLA contract are described in four previous posts:
  • Part 1: Mitigating the impact of filming
  • Part 2: Reporting obligations
  • Part 3: Permit processing
  • Part 4: Permit terms and conditions
To see the entire 2009 FilmLA contract, click here.
To see the 2014 renewal amendment, click here.
The same questions must have occurred to the LA County attorney who drafted the FilmLA contract. Indemnification requirements occupy a full 7 pages,  nearly 14%,  of the entire document. That's the same page count needed to describe FilmLA's entire Statement of Work.

Here's a few indemnification highlights (if you could call indemnification a highlight) from the FilmLA contract:
  • FilmLA must "indemnify, defend and hold harmless" the County, elected officials, employees and agents from all liability."
  • Insurance is mandatory. If FilmLA fails to have insurance, FilmLA breeches its contract.
  • FilmLA's indemnification of the LA County is not limited by the dollar amount of its insurance.
  • FilmLA cannot change or cancel their insurance until after the County has 30 days notice.
  • FilmLA cannot obligate the County to pay deductibles.
  • FilmLA has to let the County know if there is an injury or law suite that could result in a claim against the county.
  • FilmLA waives the right to seek recovery against the County.
It would appear that the County's deep pockets are protected from any law suit stemming from a film shoot. If something were to go wrong, FilmLA would be holding the bag. Apparently the insurance needed to meet the County's requirements is pricey. FilmLA reported paying $86,000 for insurance in 2013 and $120,000 in 2014.

On a related note, the California Film Commission has circulated a "Model Filming Ordinance" to local governments that recommends requiring film companies indemnify elected officials and government employees.  Curiously, LA County doesn't not have an ordinance of that sort. Indemnification provisions only appear in the FilmLA contract.

While it's good to know the County, and my tax dollars, are protected, I can't help wondering... am I covered?

What if an afternoon gust topples a 150-pound Arri HMI and it smashes my windshield? Who's paying for that?

According to item #5 in the Terms and Conditions 1 attached to every filming permit, the film company must have general liability and workers' compensation insurance. (The amounts of minimum coverage are left up to FilmLA.)  Consequently, FilmLA will not issue a filming permit unless they receive proof of insurance certificate that meets minimum requirements.

FilmLA requires the following minmum coverage to obtain a filming permit in LA County:
  • $1,000,000 in General Liability coverage
  • $1,000,000 in auto insurance
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance
These insurance policies can have a hefty price tag. Nancy Bond of Nancy Bond Insurance Services, estimates a short term liability policy might run $2,500 - $5, 000 depending on the risks associated with the production plan. A annual policy may run in the tens of thousands of dollars depending on the number of productions covered.

So...if a film company has a permit, they will have insurance.  Is there anything left to worry about?  We asked Nancy Bond and she offered the following advice:
Click here to see an example certificate of insurance
  • If you rent your property to a film company and there's an accident you could be held liable. For protection, make certain you obtain a certificate of insurance from the film company and that your name appears on the certificate as "additionally insured."

    Incidentally, liability may extend to neighbors who just rent a driveway for a porta potty or a yard for craft services. These neighbors should also obtain a certificate of insurance and ask to be named as "additionally insured."

  • Confirm that the certificate includes workers' compensation insurance. You may be liable if the company does not include workers' comp in the policy.

  • Be sure to examine the insured amounts on certificate of insurance. You may want to increase a few items that exceed the minimum requirements set by FilmLA.

    For example, check the "Damage to rented premises box."2 $300,000 is typical. If your property is worth more than the insured amount, consider requesting a higher coverage. Also check the "General Aggregate" box. You may be responsible for liabilities in excess of the policy. If you are concerned the amount of coverage, request "Excess Liability/Umbrella coverage. Amounts of $5,000,000 are not unusual.

    Note: The aggregate total is shared by all the 'insured' and the 'additionally insured.' When thinking about the amount of coverage remember that you are sharing the coverage with the production company, the County, FilmLA and any neighbors who are also covered by the same policy.

  • If you frequently host filming, your insurance carrier may consider you are running a business and require you to purchase a business endorsement.

  • Consider consulting with your insurance broker for the coverage you need when hosting renting your property to a film company.

Getting back to the story at the beginning of this post about the unpermitted film shoot... remember they were working without a permit and possibly without insurance. Is that against the law?

Aside from getting the filming stopped, apparently not.  At least in LA County.

While LA County has indemnification ordinances for taxi companies, cable TV vendors, news rack vendors, marijuana dispensaries, ambulance companies and sidewalk vendors, it does not have one for film companies.3 In fact, the County has many far more ordinances for oak tree removal than it does for film production. In other words, the County could fine you for removing an oak tree without a permit, but not for shooting a film without insurance.

That's not the case for filming in LA City. Don't get caught there filming without a permit. In 2011, the LA City Council passed an ordinance making filming without a permit illegal. If a filmmaker gets caught in LA City filming without permit they could be arrested, fined and their equipment confiscated.

Bottom line: If you host a film shoot, be sure the company has a filming permit and sufficient insurance. Otherwise, you could be running a liability risk

1 Here's a link to the Terms and Conditions appended to every permit.   Click here and search for "Exhibit U."
2 Certificates of insurance companies are typically issued on a 'Certificate of Liability Insurance' Accord form. Consequently, category names should be the same.
3 The following LA County ordinances stipulate indemnification requirements: taxis (7.80.230) Cable TV vendors (16.19.100), news rack vendors (16.27.090), Marijuana dispensaries (7.55.330), Ambulances (3.45.100), sidewalk dinning vendors(16.27.090), oak tree removal permit (22.56 Part 16).

December 26, 2016

LA County Department of Public clarifies parking and traffic policy for filming permits

This past September, the Altadena Filming Committee met with representatives from the LA County Department of Public Works (DPW).   During that meeting, DPW representatives described the Department's policies used for setting the conditions for the filming permits issued by FilmLA.  They also discussed efforts to improve enforcement of permitted filming conditions.

Meeting minutes from that meeting have now been published to the Altadena Town Council Website. Click here to view the minutes .

Here's a few highlights from that meeting:
  • DPW is developing a standard set traffic management conditions for filming permits in Altadena and the rest of the LA County.
  • DPW uses the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) as the basis for it traffic and parking policies.
  • DPW is aware of special traffic concerns on busy thoroughfares like New York Drive and Altadena Drive.  DPW is looking to establish policies that will alleviate future problems.
  • DPW is initiating a policy of routinely posting 'no parking signs' on both sides of a neighborhood street for permits issues in Altadena.
  • DPW is actively concerned about enforcement of permit conditions. DPW inspectors are visiting filming sites to ensure compliance with permitted filming condition. DPW is also working closely with the Altadena Sheriff.
  • DPW is very concerned and actively interest in filming permit enforcement. DPW now provides a direct contact number to a senior DPW manager who will address permit enforcement issues.
On a related note: The filming committee has started compiling a list of filming resources for Altadeneans looking for information about filming. The list is also available on the Town Council website. Here's a link.

September 5, 2016

The deal: LA County's contract with FilmLA, Part IV

Think back to the last time you purchased a plane ticket, signed up for insurance or installed new software. Did you actually read, carefully read, the terms and conditions before you signed up? I'm guessing that more than a few of you, like me, just shrugged off the job of studying that a legal-length page of small printed gobbledy-goop with this consoling thought: "How bad could it be if everyone does it?"

I'll suspect that's just what happens when the film company's "authorized company representative" puts his or her John Hancock on the approved filming permit. Chances are good it's been awhile since they read the LA County Terms and Conditions that accompany each filming permit. Who would blame them? You must have that permit. You aren't going to negotiate with the County. And, you're probably busier than the fried-Twinkie vendor at the state fair So are you going to wade through four pages of stultifying legalese? Doubtful.

So, perceiving a need, AF has once again muddled through the small print to try to fill the gap.

Is this the actual active FilmLA contract?   I can’t say for certain.  But, it’s likely to be pretty close.
Here’s why:
  • This version of the contract was used for public hearings in 2009 when FilmLA was awarded a sole- source agreement. (A meeting may not have happened.)
  • The contract has the signatures of both the President of FilmLA and the LA County counsel.
  • The 2104 renewal of the FilmLA amendment says all terms and conditions “will remain the same.”
To see the 2009 FilmLA contract, click here.
To see the 2014 renewal amendment, click here.
So what's in the contract?
This posting is part 4 of an ongoing look at the contract FilmLA signed with LA County to become the provider of film permits.

In a nutshell, FilmLA is obligated to provide the four following county services:
  1. Coordinate and process film/still photography permits and fees for onlocation motion picture, television, and commercial production events
  2. Coordinate the issuance of film/still photography permits in a manner that balances the needs of, and attempts to mitigate the impact of productions on, area neighborhoods and merchant districts (my emphasis)
  3. Provide the County reports on a quarterly basis
  4. Market and promote the County to the entertainment industry
Item #1, item #2 and item #3 were summarized in previous posts. This will cover one of the contractual terms that appear in item #1: the LA County Terms and Conditions.

FilmLA is required to attached the LA County Terms and Conditions to every permit. In our view these Terms and Conditions are seriously lacking in levity, so AF will attempt to address this shortcoming by providing its own, unofficial variant.

Note: for those who would rather read the actual Terms and Conditions click here and search for "Exhibit U."

AF's Unofficial, easy-to-read reinterpretation of the
for people like me

For the purpose of this document, "We" are FilmLA and "You" are the film company.   Now that is out of the way, We can get on to the good stuff.

We have authority to issue the permit but that doesn't give You permission to use a location without getting the permission of the owner. And, by the way You will need proof that you do have permission because we just might ask if you have it.

You better have this permit in your possession when you're on location. If we request it or if the public requests "it and must be made available for inspection."

If You want, We can change your permit with a "Rider." The rider only changes what the rider says. Nothing else changes. By the way, You must attach the Rider to the original permit — the whole is the just the sum of its parts.

You just agreed to comply with all laws unless the permit says You don't have to. Incidentally that includes parking regulations.

This permit isn't worth the bits used to generate this image on your screen if You don't have the right insurance.

By the way, if something goes wrong, We are not responsible. So if there's a law suit, You are responsible for defending FilmLA, the County Supervisors and anybody who works for the County that might have been caught in the crossfire. Oh by the way, that includes any and all damages. (Oh yea, if there was gross negligence when We issued the permit, there's an exception. Don't count on it.)

No freebees. You have to pay first before you get either a filming permit or a rider

If You get caught doing any of the following, We can suspend, revoke, cancel or amend your filming permit:
  • You unnecessarily endanger health or safety
  • You are about to damage to some property
  • You are violating the conditions of the permit
  • You aren't minding the "Filmmakers' Code of Professional Responsibility." or the following do any of the following:
    • Arrive before the time on the permit
    • Depart after the time on the permit
    • Move someone's car without their permission or the cops approval.
    • Ignore the parking signs or the parking conditions on the permit
    • Park your cars on both sides of the street without specific authorization on the permit
    • Trespass on someone's property
    • Cut trees or shrubbry without permission.
    • Leave trash, cables, porta potties or other detritus before the permit expires
    • Don't try to keep the noise levels as low as possible
    • Smoke outside designated smoking areas
P.S. We can suspend, revoke, cancel or amend your filming permit without being liable for the repercussions.
P.S.S. If things get bad, We can also deny giving You future permits.

Quite a list! If they ever need to use it, FilmLA has a very big hammer.

But, holding a tight reign on film productions would be a tough assignment for FilmLA; they would be playing rough with their very customers and as Harry Selfridge, of Masterpiece Theater prominence, famously said, "the customer is always right."

Incidentally, enforcement of the Terms and Conditions is the job of FilmLA. If for some reason, enforcement appears to be a problem, contact FilmLA on their 24/7 line: 213-977-8600. If that fails try appealing to the on-site law officer. If that fails, you're probably stuck. You might consider contacting the Altadena Filming Committee ( Alternatively, You might consider taking your concerns directly to the LA County Manager responsible for monitoring FilmLA's contract. But, as far as I know, no one has ever felt the need to go there.

April 29, 2016

Filming Advisory Committee Redux: mystery solved

Since I started dabbling in the topic of how our local government promotes and regulates on-location filming, friends and acquaintances made many well-intentioned suggestions about things that need looking into. Don't tell anyone, but I mostly don't bother.

However, one friend, who works for the government, suggested I ask the County for FilmLA's contract. "You never know what you'll find." I agreed this was a fabulous idea, but my honest reaction was: 'Are you kidding? This is a job for Mr. Tulkinghorn. I might try to learn to play a 3-part Invention without taking a piano lesson. I've got better things to do like taking on the oxalis.'

I hope you won't mind a bit of advice: never, ever underestimate the internet. Even the most intractable problem is worth a 5-minute google. Luck was on my side. One query, one page and there it was. FilmLA's contract with Los Angeles County in pdf black-and-white.

I hadn't finished the cover letter when I stumbled across the answer to a mystery: The disappearance of the Los Angeles County Film Advisory Committee famously described in LACO Ordinance 3.70.

In the very unlikely event that you follow this blog, you may remember a posting about the Filming Advisory Committee. This is the group charged with reviewing and advising the organization that operates the County's Film Permitting process — a seemingly useful function. However, there was nary a clue from Google. They were mysterious as the Trilateral Commission.

Thanks to Fortuna and the FilmLA Contract, the mystery is solved. On page 5 of the LACO CEO's cover letter, I found this ditty: "The County Code will be amended to remove references to the County filming permit coordination office and filming advisory committee, which no longer exist." Mystery solved. The committee doesn't exist. There's order in the world.

Maybe the LA Country Municode site is a bit like those cluttered shelves in our garage. Something's are just really hard to get around to.

December 31, 2015

LA County Filming Advisory Committee

Ever wonder who sets filming policies that guide FilmLA decisions when they grant filming permits? 

I've stumbled on a LA County ordinance that may offer some insight. There is code in Title 3 of the County ordinances that establishes a LA County "FILMING ADVISORY COMMITTEE" (Here's a link to the ordinance:

The Filming Advisory Committee includes five Supervisor-appointed positions and five "ex-officio" positions. The ex-officio members include the director of public works, the director of internal services, the county forester and fire warden, the director of planning, and the county sheriff. A heady bunch. 

While the committee is just advisory, but it could be quite influential. Here's a few things the ordinance says it is supposed to do: 
* Advise filming permit coordination office (i.e. FilmLA) on county policies for issuing filming permits 
* Review the filming permit system, identify problems and recommend solutions 
* Advice filming permit coordination office on major complaints between the public, the film industry, and county agencies 
* Assist the filming permit coordination office to encourage filming in Los Angeles County 
* Suggest ways to insure the film industry's understanding of the need to comply with public interest and safety. 

Out of curiosity, I wondered who might be the supervisor appointees on Filming Advisory Committee. A Google search did not turn up a single informative result. If this Board does exist, it does not appear to have any public presence.

September 30, 2015

Special Conditions in Altadena

You might not be familiar with the county approved Special Filming Conditions for our community. In fact, several of the Altadena neighborhoods enjoy special filming conditions. They are listed below.

According to FilmLA, "Special Filming Conditions for filming in many of the most popularly-filmed neighborhoods in Los Angeles."
Click here for the FilmLA Webpage for Special Conditions.

These Special Filming Conditions may be included in the terms and conditions of permits issued for filming in these areas, and in that case are in addition to the standard terms and conditions applicable to filming permits generally.

While Special Filming Conditions may be included as terms on permits for filming, "they are not intended to, and do not, establish criteria or standards for determining whether or not a particular permit (or permits) will be issued for any area....The decision to issue a particular permit is vested in the discretion of the appropriate City or County department or their designees (including FilmL.A., Inc.), to be exercised consistent with public health, safety and general welfare, and applicable land-use ordinances."

Altadena areas with special conditions

Note: click the link to download a Special Filming Conditions document
Altadena Meadows
Altadena Town & Country Club
Chaney Trail/Alzada Drive
Homewood Drive
Mendocino Lane
Rubio Street

A few stats about Special Filming Conditions:

Total number of streets in LA county with special conditions: 39 streets
Total number of streets in Altadena with special conditions: 4
Total number of areas in LA county with special conditions: 46
Total number of areas in Altadena with special conditions: 2

Population LA county: 10M
Population Altaenda: 10K or .1% LA county

Altadena's porportion of LA County special conditions: 6%
No other LA County community has an equal per capital density special conditions