A Public Comment to the General Plan Advisory Committee By Judith Kaluzny
I ask that you remove the reference to a Business Improvement District from your draft of a general plan. I understand the mention is to “encourage” a business improvement district. A business improvement district is a tax on businesses, collected as a property tax by the county tax assessor, in a defined area. It can be based on property ownership–and the owners pass the costs along to their tenants; or on individual businesses in the district.
This is found in the codes of the State of California in the Streets and Highways code. Thing is, a city can assist a BID ONLY AFTER the business people on their own form a group, plan the boundaries, get a petition signed to ask for having a BID. A BID is NOT for paying for regular maintenance of an area, but for improvements. An executive director will be hired, and a board of directors elected–another level of government and taxation for your small downtown businesses in this case.
The redevelopment department, inappropriately, has already tried that for $3,000 paid to a consultant and a balance in the accounts for another $27,000 for that consultant. Four meetings were held; I attended all, as did Cameron Irons and Mr. Terranova. Only at the last meeting did about five other business owners attend. And I had handed out many fliers to alert downtown businesses.
A year or two before that, Cameron Irons sent out a survey to downtown property owners regarding a BID. He gave me copies of the 12 or 14 replies. All were against it, but two said, if you are going to have it, we will participate.
The Nicole Coats had a meeting or two to gin up support for a BID. The two people (me and Henry Jones) who indicated willingness to participate were not invited. Those meeting with Nicole Coats–Cameron Irons, Terranova, Theresa Harvey, and two or three more chose the consultant. Paul Dunlap said he was invited, but declined to participate.
The idea of a BID for downtown arose when Councilmember Quirk asked if there wasn’t some way to get money for paying for the costs of maintaining downtown. Redevelopment Director Zur Schmeide told her that a business improvement district might be a way.
When the consultant was hired, I talked to both the city manager and Councilmember Quirk. Mr Meyer said, “we have an eight block area that is costing us over million and a half dollars a year. We have to do something.” Councilmember Quirk also spoke of a BID paying for the excess costs of maintaining the restaurant overlay district.
This is not the appropriate use or purpose of a BID! And it is by law supposed to arise from the grass roots business people, not top down from the city to get tax money for maintenance.
What I see happening is that if a BID were established for downtown, the only people who would have time or interest to serve on the board of directors will be restaurant/bar owners. Then they will vote to spend the taxes raised for maintenance so the city will not be so burdened by the bar district. (Which burden the city council created by abolishing CUPs for restaurants downtown.)
The Downtown Fullerton Restaurant Association is a non profit listed as c/o Cameron Irons, 118 North State College Boulevard, same address as Vanguard Investment Properties.