To entice television and movie companies looking to save money on location shoots, letters were sent this week encouraging all Riverside County cities to adopt an ordinance abolishing permit fees for production houses that film projects locally.
The ordinance was approved Sept. 24 by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors for unincorporated areas, and now all cities are being asked to do the same, according to Tom Freeman, commissioner for the Riverside County Economic Development Agency/Office of Foreign Trade.
The letter, signed by Supervisors John Benoit and Jeff Stone, states in part: “California has lost a tremendous amount of television and film business over the years. In fact, Riverside County could have been the host of one of the nation’s top television series, ‘Breaking Bad.’ However, the State of New Mexico offered incentives that we could not.”
By one estimate, the number of studio-backed feature films shot in California dropped from 66 percent in 2003 to less than 40 percent in 2011.
"Billions are being spent by movie crews going to Canada and Europe," Stone said. "This is about bringing TV and film business back to Southern California, where it has its origins. I know this will get hardware stores, service stations and other merchants busy."
The county will unveil a website in the coming weeks geared specifically to film and TV interests.
A single five-day TV episode creates 165 jobs and generates about $2 million in revenue to the community where it's filmed, according to Freeman.
—City News Service and Maggie Avants contributed to this report.