The other day I ran across several articles from the Triplicate, Dec. 6, 2006, by Hilary Corrigan, that brought on deja vu. The stories were about an entity called the Business Improvement District.
In the articles were questions, anger, suggestions and opinions from the business owners within the Business Improvement District, which was approved by the City Council in 1993. Forgotten for years by the city, it faded in memory until a few business owners decided that the city was in need of it again. So from the ashes it has arisen and with it brings the same concerns.
Another article written in the Triplicate in 2006 said the request for dis-establishment of the BID was again requested by some business owners. Since 1993 more than 73 businesses have come and gone from the district known as the BID. Even the business owners that were instrumental in beginning the BID are gone.
In 2010 we conducted a “show of interest” by BID members to see if the opinion had changed over the last four years. The survey was impartial, members were allowed to mark yes or no, write “no opinion” or, if they chose, write “refused to sign.” The results showed that the majority of the business licensees do not want to be part of the BID as mandated by the city. Now again in 2011 the City of Crescent City did “their” survey, with 76 percent saying no to continuing the BID.
There seems to be a problem of confusing issues here. Do not tell us that we are not informed of what BID has done or is, we are well aware of what has been going on. Just because we do not believe in the BID does not make us less patriotic or caring for the community or the city.
The question is not whether we want downtown to be pretty or prosperous or inviting or safe. Of course we do, this is where we have put our soul, time and money into our businesses in hopes of making a livelihood, and over the last 18 years that BID has been in existence it has not been a deciding factor in the majority of changes in the district.
When asked what the BID has done for the city we get the same answers, Halloween and Christmas parades and planting flowers. It takes a lot more than a Halloween or Christmas parade or Miracle on Third Street to keep businesses downtown. After thousands of dollars of taxpayer money and special assessments spent by city staff to administer the unwanted program, it’s time to move on to more important tasks.
It has been private business owners who have spent their own monies to make the downtown attractive and viable. We participate in the community without the city/BID putting their hands in the shallow pockets of the business owners who already give voluntarily.
You cannot make people believe in or want to participate in an organization they don’t want to be a part of or they don’t think has any merit. Whether you believe they should or not is not the issue here. Why spend the city’s monies debating the majority’s wishes already presented to the council to dis-establish the BID? To direct staff for a lengthy study to show various options in terms of future structures flies in the face of the request of the majority of business owners. The only viable option is to eliminate the BID and transition to a voluntary downtown association.
By all accounts from the BID president they have done all they can do to educate the masses about the BID. They have sent letters, advertised in the paper and on the radio, put on events, held meetings, etc. So after doing all that and still the majority does not want it, I would think that the message is clear: Dis-establish the Business Improvement District!
Cynthia Speakman owns Del Norte Travel in downtown Crescent City.