What do business leaders think is the worst single thing about living and doing business in the Valley area?

It’s not taxes and regulations. It’s not the relative lack of cultural and entertainment amenities. It’s not even the intense heat (although that gets honorable mention).

No, it’s traffic.

Traffic got mentioned more often – far more often – than anything else by local leaders who were asked what they believe is the worst aspect of living and working in the Valley area. They were asked as part of this year’s Valley 200.

(The Valley 200, which is included with this issue of the Business Journal to paid subscribers, is a book profiling the 200 most influential leaders in the Valley area. Since we don’t want the book to be just a stack of résumés, we asked a few personal questions.)

In fact, the Valley 200 profilees mentioned traffic as the worst single aspect about this area more than 65 times. That’s well more than double the 27 mentions that heat got. Nothing else rated as high as those two. Taxes and regulations were cited six times. Other nettlesome aspects that got multiple mentions: the wind, the belief that the Valley area is ignored politically and the claim that we lack abundant cultural and entertainment amenities. I was surprised that “worrying about the next big earthquake,” was mentioned only once (by Erika Endrijonas of Los Angeles Valley College).

But traffic congestion so clearly vexes people that apparently there’s a belief that 100 percent of the folks agree. When Martin Cooper of Cooper Communications was asked his pet peeve, he said, “As the other 199 will respond: traffic/transportation.”

What’s interesting is that the scourge of traffic seems to be metastasizing. As least, traffic got mentioned even by folks in the Santa Clarita and Conejo valleys – far from the intersection of the 101 and 405 freeways.

I must admit this is a little puzzling to me. When I began working in the San Fernando Valley two and a half years ago, I was struck by the how much less congested the area is. Traffic is more intense in the Los Angeles basin.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I know the 101 Freeway through the San Fernando Valley has been rated the worst single commute in the United States. I agree that if Dante were with us today, he’d say, “OK, so there’s a tenth circle of hell and it’s called the 101.”

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