From Kevin Herrera’s article in the Santa Monica Daily Press:
Factor in traffic congestion and the lack of parking, as well as business taxes â€” which are some of the highest in Los Angeles County â€” and it becomes clear that small businesses face an uphill struggle to remain open. Last year Santa Monica was named the costliest city to do business in the county by the Kosmont-Rose Institute, a Los-Angeles-based economic development firm.
The firm looked at more than 400 cities in California and across the nation and examined factors like business tax rates, utility taxes, sales tax, property taxes and state corporate income taxes. Santa Monicaâ€™s cost of doing business has continued to escalate, thanks in part to one of the higher utility tax rates in the county at 10 percent.
Also, over the years, various sectors of the cityâ€™s business community have been targeted for mandates and regulations, including an ultimately futile attempt six years ago to impose a coastal zone living wage â€” aimed at the big beachfront hotels â€” and increased regulations on auto-related businesses.
â€œThe city has done everything they can to make it difficult for small businesses,â€ said Mike Howell, owner of Santa Monica Lock & Safe Co., which has been a fixture in the Pico Neighborhood since 1967. â€œBy making us take some of our signage down, itâ€™s hard for a store like mine [that is setback from the street] to be seen by people driving by. Streets have been made narrower, creating more traffic and parking is a mess â€¦ They are just not business friendly.