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Coastal voices: BID fees should be voluntary

I am the owner of a small local business in downtown Crescent City. Although I long to be more involved with other activities such as attending Business Improvement District or City Council meetings, I find it very difficult with my insane work schedule, not to mention my two busy children.

When told there would be a request to dissolve the BID at Monday’s City Council meeting I scooped up my family and off we went to see how it would all play out as this could directly affect my business.

After two hours of watching in amazement as both of my children sat still and remained silent, I listened intently to the multitude of my peers, downtown neighbors and friends state their opinions. I thought about stating mine, but I was actually very impressed with how everyone else pretty much said all of the things I was thinking. I couldn’t have said it better...

But it wasn’t until after the public speaking period closed and we got to hear the opinions of the council members that I was left feeling that there is more to say. The fact is that out of 110 business people polled, 73 would like to see BID dissolved, 20 were unable to be located or refused to sign, 11 were against seeing BID dissolved and six had no opinion.

I have owned my business for over five years now and it has always been virtually surrounded by beauty salons. I love to have these salons as my neighbors because they generate a lot of traffic in and around my shop. It is not unusual for a woman to come in with a fresh haircut and wet nails browsing my merchandise. I know that if it weren’t for my successful neighbors, I would not be as successful myself.

But now I am worried for my salon neighbors since the BID fees seem to affect them in such a negative way. I am afraid that if something doesn’t change I will be waving goodbye to many of my wonderful downtown friends and we will all see even more “for rent”signs littering our beautiful downtown area.

My opinion about BID is that I really do appreciate the people who volunteer their valuable time to run it and I think they are very nice people with good intentions, I also consider these people my friends. I understand what they are trying to accomplish and I would not want to take it away from them. I just don’t think the best thing to do is force it on the 73 people who don’t feel they are benefiting from it.

I am definitely a huge advocate of compromise and I think that making BID a voluntary program would be a good solution. I would be happy to donate to the BID because I can see how it promotes shopping local, which is very important to me. But I think that forcing people to pay up or they won’t receive a business license just makes them feel like they are being extorted.

After hearing all of the opinions in favor of dissolving BID, I was surprised that Mr. Burns was the only one who really seemed to consider the dissolving of BID. Sure, Ms. Schellong and Mr. Slert seemed open to the idea of changing the boundaries or adjusting fees maybe. But Mr. Burns really seemed to be the only one who was really listening to what most of the downtown businesses are saying.

I thought that the City Council was elected to be a voice for the citizens, not an authority figure who just “knows what’s best for us.”

Melanie Kime of Crescent City owns Custom Dezign Graphics.

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