Answers to your questions.
Who is in charge of the CBD? Upon creation, a separate non-profit entity would be formed to represent the CBD and it’s actions. A board of directors representing the varied perspectives of district members would be formed to ensure that the plan and vision of the CBD are being met. This group is required to have property owners, merchants and neighborhood representatives. A paid part time executive director would answer to the board and handle the actual coordination of any work being done.
How are the assessments collected? The assessments for each property will appear on the property tax bill of each parcel within the district. Funds are collected by the city and distributed to the CBD.
Can the city use this money? No. This money is not a tax and is not being paid to the City. As an assessment it can only be legally be used by the CBD to pay for the services mentioned in the Management Plan.
Can I opt in (or out) later? No. Once the district is formed it can not be changed.
Why is the term so long? It is very expensive to renew a CBD. Several San Francisco CBD’s that had short terms are now having to severally cut there operating budget to allot funds to the renewal process. We would rather see these funds continue to improve the neighborhood.
Can a CBD ever be removed? Yes, there is a process for this. If a majority of participants vote to disband the district, it can be done. If the CBD is ineffective it should not be difficult.
Who pays? – The business owner or the landlord? The assessments are placed on the properties but depending on lease terms and or other arrangements the tenant might be paying. It helps to discuss this issue ahead of time.
Why is the budget not more clearly defined? Just as in starting a business, it would impossible and foolish to allot exactly where every dollar is going to be spent into the future. It is also very likely the needs of the Avenue will change over time. If a specific plan or service is mentioned in the plan it has to be provided even if it doesn’t make sense anymore. So being too specific would actually limit the ability of the CBD to change. For example: If we initially anticipate the need for daily sweeping and thus put that in the plan and budget in three years, when the level of dirt and grime is less, the need of such frequent service may not be necessary. With the broad budgeting we could be shift the spending towards providing a different service or project that still obtains the result and intent of the proposed in the plan .
Can the assessment amount change?
Yes, it can be reduced if not all services are deemed necessary and increases are capped at 3% per year to allow for inflation.
But, I already clean my building and sidewalks.
While you keep your property looking nice, chances are your neighbors aren’t as concerned. The CBD takes care of your place as well as your neighbors making your property look even better. Problem areas like bus stops are taken care of quickly without the need to call and wait for a city agency to come out.
Is anyone else doing this?
Yes, San Francisco has over a dozen working CBD’s with a few more in the pipeline. Many of these districts have been created and renewed already across the state and the country. CBD’s are now a tested and proven benefit to commercial areas.
It seems like the admin cost is high?
Agreed. This category covers essentials such as insurance, accounting, and legal fees as well as the salary of a part time Executive Director. As a quasi public entity there is a tremendous amount of reporting and audits that most be performed. Having someone in place that is paid to handle not only these responsibilities but also the operations of the district will ensure that it gets done. Volunteer based organizations constantly struggle with getting the help they need to perform just basic tasks. The scale of a CBD really requires a strong commitment that would not exist on the volunteer level.