On December 3rd, the Santa Monica Daily Press published an article titled “Worth the cost.” After stating that the Kosmont-Rose Cost of Doing Business Survey rates Santa Monica as one of the most expensive cities in the nation in which to do business, the article explores the reasons why so many companies flock to the city regardless of the cost and examines how the city can improve.
Santa Monica, which “has been dubbed Silicon Beach for its collection of high-tech start ups,” was ranked 19th out of the 20 most expensive cities on the Cost of Doing Business Survey. This ranking was determined on the basis of sales taxes, fees, and incentives offered. Santa Monica city manager Ron Gould refers to the survey as “a blunt instrument” that does not take into account other critical factors”.
Sheldon D. Liber, CEO of architectural design firm and asset management company, argues that it is taxes and bonds that help fund the amenities – like reliable public transit, clean streets, and bike lanes – that make the city so attractive to CEOs like himself.
“To remain competitive in all those categories, we need to provide the highest level of services and to provide those services we need to pay for them through things like taxes and fees,” Ron Gould stated in the Daily Press article. “We are not going to beat someone in the Inland Empire when it comes to the tax rate, but you are going to come to Santa Monica because you want to tap into the market that is here and be part of a vibrant local economy and have that high level of services that residents and businesses both expect and deserve.”
The article states that there is room for improvement in the relationship between merchants and City Hall, although they have already begun to do so, and “…are making great headway in that regard,” according to Brian Chase, director of governmental affairs for the Chamber of Commerce. Larry Kosmont of Kosmont Companies, which helped produce the Kosmont-Rose Cost of Doing Business Survey, added his approval to this approach, stating in the SMDP article, “If you’re in business right now, there are good deals to be struck with cities.”