By Sheryl Hamlin
On May 29, 2019 the Santa Paula City Council held a special meeting to discuss the formation of a Business Improvement District (BID) in Santa Paula. Mayor Garman and Council Member Juarez recused themselves due to property conflicts.
A BID is simply an area, called a district, where an assessment is levied for extra services. A BID is a tax subject to Proposition 218, so the budget must match the delivered services. In the BID case, property owners from the following area will be allowed to vote:
“The District encompasses approximately 3 whole and partial blocks in the commercial core of Downtown Santa Paula. The PBID boundary is concentrated with parcels fronting primarily along Main Street between 8th Street and 10th Street as well as the parcels on the east of 10th Street between Main Street and Ventura Street.” Source: Staff Report
The staff report also indicates that the budget will be $92,000 for the first year. This amount will be allocated among the businesses based on a formula which includes linear feet . Note that the bill is added to the property owner’s property tax bill and may or may not be passed on to a business(s) which rents the property.
Michael Binsley who owns a property at 926 E. Main spoke in Public Comments. He said he did not vote in favor of the BID. He then enumerated services which were redundant to that already provided by the city or other entities: security, homeless management, graffiti, flower bowls from America in Bloom, marketing by the Chamber of Commerce. He said the ambassadors were great but are they trained to deal with homeless? He also said that the trees and lighting could benefit. Of the 60 lots in the BID map, there was a positive vote from over 50% of the lot owners, but that is only 15 people. Fifteen individuals control the destiny of downtown, he said. He asked why Mill Street was not included? He was never approached by the other owners to form a coalition. And, he questions the assessment because the numbers about his business were incorrect. Some leases, like the Oddfellows, do not allow for pass-throughs of such taxes.
The Assistant City Manager (ACM) Ikani Taumoepeau, said that a BID had been attempted previously but never made it to fruition. The first ballot had 54% of the property owers in favor. There are two types of BID law in Californa. One dates from 1989 and the other from 1994. He prefers the 1989 law because it is simpler and carries a shorter minimum duration (three years).
Three property owners (Chuy Llosa, Adam Sandoval and Hampton Ranch) were involved including the Chamber of Commerce in the coalition. There were 20-30 attendees at the March 12, 2019 meeting at the Train Depot, not all in favor. The features of the BID include: safety improvement, security, cleanliness and beautification. The BID can manage itself or hire employees.
Vice Mayor Araiza asked about an appeals process for the bill. This needs clarification. However, Council Member Crosswhite said that this may be in the BID law already.
Three motions passed unanimously. Then the council set July 29, 2019 for a public hearing where the results of the ballot will be read aloud individually by the City Clerk.
To listen to the meeting and download the staff report, click here.
For an in depth analysis of the BID law and process, click here.
Split Roll: Another New Tax
Not mentioned at the council was the Split Roll Initiative on the 2020 ballot, which will remove Proposition 13 protections for business. How might two increases in taxes affect business owners?
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