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Disney Plans China Park Walt Disney Co. officials confirmed last week that the company is in talks to build a theme park and resort in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Finance Secretary Donald Tsang said in a cabinet meeting that a final decision on the proposed park is expected by June 30. Preliminary plans call for the park to be built by 2005 on Lantau Island, near the site of Hong Kong’s new international airport, Tsang said. It would initially attract 5 million tourists a year, according to projections, a small number compared to many other Disney parks. It would be Disney’s first push into China. Reseda BID Progresses The Los Angeles City Council approved a proposal to create a business improvement district in Reseda and is now waiting approval by the 740 businesses in the area around Reseda Boulevard and Sherman Way. BIDs are a redevelopment strategy under which businesses and/or property owners in a specific designated area agree to tax themselves, with the funds being used to pay for improvements in the area. Landfill Expansion Approved The Los Angeles City Planning Commission approved a 494-acre expansion of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Granada Hills, despite neighbor objections. Under the proposal, landfill operator Browning-Ferris Industries must maintain a 100-acre buffer between the landfill and neighboring homes and put up a $3 million security bond to fund community protection if the company fails to meet its promises. If approved by the City Council, BFI would be allowed to dump 55 million tons of trash in the city portion of the landfill over 26 years. The existing landfill is on land that is within unincorporated L.A. County. Pinkerton’s Being Bought International detective agency Pinkerton’s Inc., based in Westlake Village, agreed to be bought by Swedish-based Securitas AB for $384 million. The acquisition will create the world’s largest security firm. Founded in 1850 by legendary detective Allan Pinkerton, Pinkerton’s gained fame tracking outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the James Gang. The Securitas acquisition is not expected to result in significant personnel changes. Pinkerton’s currently employs 48,000 people in 250 offices nationwide. The company posted annual revenues of more than $1 billion last year. Home Sales Increase The volume of Los Angeles County existing-home sales grew by 1.6 percent in January from the like period a year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors. The slight increase in L.A. was far less than the 11.6 percent jump in statewide existing-home sales volume for the period. The median sales price of an existing L.A. County home, however, rose 8.9 percent in January, hitting $186,840. The Realtors association attributed the gains to low interest rates and good weather. Manufacturer Moving to Pacoima Cal Am Manufacturing, a maker of fiber optic and telecommunications equipment, will move its operations this month from Burbank to the city of L.A. community of Pacoima. Cal Am officials said incentives from the city of L.A. such as utility discounts, tax breaks and assistance with infrastructure improvements convinced them to move the company to Los Angeles. Pacoima beat out City of Industry, El Monte, Monrovia and San Fernando in the bid to win the company. Cal Am, which posted revenues of $3 million last year, will move into a 15,000-square-foot facility on Bradley Avenue and Desmond Street. Chamber Official Arrested Glendale police arrested a former executive director of the Montrose Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce last week on charges of embezzling $8,500 from the chamber’s revenue funds. Karen McCarty, 40, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft by embezzlement from April 1997 to April 1998, police reported. The arrest was the result of a 10-month investigation between Glendale police and the chamber’s auditors, who found that not all the cash from chamber events was being deposited during McCarty’s one-year tenure at the chamber. McCarty was fired from the chamber last year. CRA Restructuring Urged A task force recommended that the Community Redevelopment Agency close its 10 field offices and consolidate workers at its downtown headquarters to improve organization and productivity. The report, released last week, recommends that the CRA run its North Hollywood project and other Los Angeles redevelopment projects from the agency’s downtown office. The CRA board is scheduled to review the task force recommendations at its meeting later this month. Over the past few years, the agency has cut its staff and is looking to reorganize to deal with an expected annual budget deficit of $8 million for the next five years. In February, a proposal was introduced that calls for the L.A. City Council to take over the CRA and fold the agency into the city’s Economic Development Department. That plan, still pending before the council, is opposed by Mayor Richard Riordan and some CRA officials. Caltrans Director Promoted Tony Harris, the Caltrans director whose responsibilities included managing the busy the Ventura (101) and San Diego (405) freeway interchange, was promoted to chief deputy director of the state agency last week. Harris previously served as Caltrans director for Los Angeles and Ventura counties since 1997, and has been credited with shepherding a project to allieviate congestion at the Valley’s 101/405 interchange. The project will add two partial lanes to the interchange and is expected to be finished in 2002. In January, Harris announced Caltrans would push the $13.1 million freeway upgrade forward a year.

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