Love where you live!
LA MESA -- The proponents of the Property Based Improvement District came before the City Council Tuesday afternoon and they started with a history lesson.
Lynn McRea (in photo above), the local accountant who has headed the PBID effort, reminded the council that the years long effort to establish some sort of funding mechanism to support La Mesa Village began with a request from, and has been funded by, the City Council itself.
Less than two hours later, however, the council showed the PBID proponents how much things have changed when it voted 4-1 to eliminate any further funding for the consultant working with the PBID Committee -- clearly signaling the council's waning interest in the subject.
Mayor Art Madrid voted to oppose the de-funding move, but on this, as on a variety of issues these days, Madrid was standing alone.
The long, drawn out PBID process had clearly exhausted the council majority -- even the ones who fully understood the issue.
And two years of public political fights among proponents and opponents and the council's own internecine warfare on the subject has further poisoned the well. It is not always clear whether some council members oppose the project on its merits or simply because they oppose Madrid.
On the same night it de-funded the PBID effort, the Council invited local PBID opponent Bill Jaynes to return to a future council meeting and give a full presentation on his proposal to start a maintenance district rather than a PBID to help raise collective funds to support upkeep efforts in the historical Village area. They asked Jaynes to test his proposal on all factions of the business community before reporting back.
The council members had clearly not witnessed the meetings Jaynes had held earlier this year for the expressed purpose of drumming up support for an alternative to the PBID. The kindest description of those meetings would be "lightly attended.'' A less-kind, but accurate description, would note that few there could grasp the idea of collective action to help the Village in any form, but all really liked the pizza served at the meetings. Jaynes had found it easier to be the loyal opposition than the artful herder of these cattle.
La Mesa Village has been, for years, in the control of a wary triumvirate with equal parts City of La Mesa, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce and a small but dedicated group in the Merchants Association claiming a piece of the action. If something is going to shake up this uneasy alliance, it doesn't look like the PBID will be doing that any time soon.
The proponents of the plan for the property-based district showed off their new, smaller PBID-lite version, but were quickly met with derision, including from City Councilwoman Kristine Alessio who noted that funds for a PBID executive director were almost equal to the funds set aside for all marketing efforts. "And you are asking us to support that?'' Alessio asked with a look of incredulity.
The council's 4-1 decision to defund any further consultant support for the PBID certainly signaled the majority's loss of interest in this subject, but the majority was reminded by the City Attorney Glen Sabine and the City Manager Dave Witt that the city's power to end the PBID machinations for once and all is really quite limited.
The PBID is voted on solely by the landowners in the core Village area. The decision of when to give up and stop rests solely with the PBID supporters. Some PBIDs have taken five years to win approval of at least 50 percent of landowner support it takes to approve the PBID, Madrid pointed out.
It's looking more and more likely that the Village will get a $5-million facelift from the city with little in place to enhance the city's baseline maintenance, cleaning or marketing of the area.
The council majority did agree Tuesday night to have the city staff analyze the city's parking meter funds with an eye toward using those funds to help maintain the Village after the streetscape project is done next year.
The Parking Fund money, like the PBID itself, will come up again at a later meeting.