A Little Heat And Light On PBID Issue

LA MESA -- The First Big PBID Debate is over. The proponents were numerous, organized and civil. The opponents were less numerous but civil as well.

In the end the City Council Tuesday afternoon and evening got its first thorough explanation of the laborious process that proceeds creation of a special assessment district and they got a good feel for the fissures the proposal has caused among La Mesa Village merchants.

Lynn McRea (pictured right), the accountant who has headed the effort to create a Property Based Improvement District, led a contingent of more than a dozen sign-carrying speakers -- merchants, realtors, landlords -- who told the council members they wanted to invest in the Village and create a professionally managed organization to oversee downtown efforts.

"Do we want La Mesa to just to be the Jewel of the Hills, or do we want it to look like the jewel of the hills,'' asked Regal Bar owner Jonathan Baron.

Deena While, owner of Readers Inc., spoke first for the PBID opponents. While, a member of the PBID steering committee, said she joined the organizational efforts to try and convince the group to limit spending on the effort to a minimum.

"I was completely unsuccessful in convincing anyone and the spending just escalated,'' While said.

While, like merchants Bill Jaynes and Craig Maxwell, sketched a picture of a quaint downtown that is being threatened by redevelopment and PBID efforts that will rob it of its character. She accused proponents of conducting a "campaign of fear'' that a redeveloped Grossmont Center or the new Park Station project might threaten La Mesa Village's role as the heart of the community.

At one point, Maxwell (pictured right) asserted dramatically: "The PBID will destroy the Village as we know it'' before pointing his finger at Mayor Art Madrid and labeling Madrid "the instigator of this whole effort.''

But Madrid and virtually all the PBID supporters painted the picture of La Mesa Village that has languished since the 1970s and needs to be upgraded and polished if it hopes to keep attracting businesses.

David Woodson, a realtor and McRea's husband, accused the merchants opposing the PBID of spreading misinformation in an effort to "keep rents depressed so they can survive.''

In the end, city staffers said the PBID issue would return to the council early next year as the petition phase of a three step process continues. If a majority of downtown property owners sign petitions, the council would then vote to put the issue to a formal balloting process. If that effort again produced a majority of property owners supporting, the proposal would come before the council for a final vote.

Several opponents of the plan questioned whether the city, as one of the major downtown property owners, should exercise its property owner voting rights when the council would also play the role of final arbiter of the plan.  Jaynes, of All Things Bright and British, suggested at one point that the city be left completely out of the PBID effort.

However, if the plan is approved, leaving the city out would also mean the remaining property owners would pick up a greater share of the overall assessments. Large property owners like Vons, Henry's, La Mesa Lumber and the city get a larger weighted vote, but they also pay a much larger share of the $378,100 the PBID is expected to raise to maintain and promote the Village.

In the end, the issue is likely to be determined by property owners who look at their assessment, judge the value of the promised services and cast their vote for or against.

Woodson, the realtor, calculated that his 3,000 square-foot building on La Mesa Boulevard, would pay a PBID assessment of only $79.70 per month. "I'll gladly pay it for all we will be getting.''

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Comment by Heather on December 16, 2011 at 11:39am

Dennis,

I encourage you to visit the PBID website for more information... http://downtownlamesa.org/

Comment by Heather on December 15, 2011 at 8:53pm

Great Article Chris....

Dennis... I don't think its very fair of you to say you won't patronize any business that supports the PBID. My business is directly on the blvd and I support it like many other businesses. This PBID will do wonders for this diminishing village that only gets dimmer by the year. Every great city needs and upgrade and almost every great city has a PBID in place. 

Comment by Dennis S. Twiss on December 15, 2011 at 5:51pm

With the caveat that although I'm a small business owner, not affected immediately by the PBID, here are my thoughts -

 

Each property owner already pays property tax - and a chunk of that goes to the City.

Each business owner pays a tax directly to the City to be in business - a business license.

Each business owner pays the State Board of Equalization their sales tax reimbursement - and a chunk of that goes to the City.

 

The City has three income streams coming directly from the business/property owners, and that's in addition to the parking meter revenue.

 

Isn't the City supposed to maintain the cleanliness of the streets and sidewalks?  What about maintenance of the streets and sidewalks?  The trees and other plantings on public property?

 

In my view, the establishment of the PBID will only serve to move the responsibility for these items, and others I'm certainly not aware of from the City to the property owners and ultimately the business owners.

 

Why would the City want to do that?  Hmm, ...certainly not to be business-friendly.  Wait, could this just be a ploy, strongly supported by the City to keep more monies in places where it can be used to shore up outrageous salaries, benefits and pensions? With the City being one of the two largest stakeholders (which means more voting clout), does this look fair?  Completely honest?  In all fairness to the property and business owners, if the creation of a PBID just has to happen, maybe everyone should consider re-drawing the boundaries to specifically exclude the City of La Mesa-owned properties.  Oh yes, ....something tells me that will never happen though.

 

By the way, I will not patronize any business that supports the creation of the PBID, and I hope you will do likewise!

 

 Dennis

Comment by Karen Pearlman on December 14, 2011 at 1:16pm

Great story, Chris.

Comment by chris shea on December 14, 2011 at 11:36am

I think the PBID could do wonderful things. Taking personalities out of the discussion, I don't see why it would inevitably push out the smaller mom and pop stores: the information provided by Mr. Woodson regarding his assessment of $79.70 per month on a 3,000 square foot building seems to me to dispel that fear.  I can't help but think that an approximately $80 per month fee will be money well spent in the long run.  

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