Alex machi is in a quandary.
On the one hand, he is savoring feelings of victory in the wake of a recent decision by the Los Angeles City Council to draft an ordinance legalizing homebased businesses. (Proponents expect it to be law by the time you read this.) On the other hand, he is appreciating the irony of possibly running one of the businesses prohibited under the City of Angels' new ordinance.
Machi, who owns a 4-year-old homebased video production company in West Hills, California, has in the last two years been very active in the battle to get city council members in the nation's second most populous city to give entrepreneurs the right to openly operate companies from home. In fact, Machi donated his time to create a video record of a public information workshop proponents put together on the issue. "I cut three hours of footage down to a 20-minute version with the best moments of the event, including both pro and con viewpoints," he says. Then, to protect himself, Machi sent the video anonymously to all 15 Los Angeles City Council members.
At the council meeting, Machi watched tensely as city planning officials voiced strong reservations, politicians tacked on amendments and compromised on changes, and a parade of supporters and opponents tried to sway the council in their favor.
The 13-1 decision to send the legislation to the city attorney's office for drafting as an ordinance--which is the next step before approval--thrilled the videographer. But it also posed a major problem, because his type of company was on the ordinance's list of prohibited businesses.
According to the ordinance, recording and motion picture production studios cannot be operated in a home. In addition, all homebased businesses must be located inside the main residence.
"The intent of this provision is to exclude studios that do on-site photo shoots and larger-scale recording and film sessions, not someone sitting at home with two or three VCRs dubbing tape," explains Kenneth Bernstein, Planning and Transportation Deputy for Laura Chick, the councilwoman who aggressively championed legalization in the L.A. City Council.
Bernstein says adjustments have been made to clarify the language regarding this issue, as well as the question of whether doctors, dentists, ministers and the like can continue to maintain homebased offices.