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New, Slimmer PBID Has A Coming Out
LA MESA -- La Mesa got its first glimpse at a pared down Property Based Improvement District that proponents of the effort hope will answer opponents' objections and finally win property owner approval.
In a 90 minute meeting, the PBID supporters approved new boundaries that now will adhere strictly to the portion of La Mesa Boulevard being redeveloped by the city and a few side streets.
The new boundaries exclude all churches, all residential property, most of the city's properties and, perhaps coincidentally, the property that is home to one of the PBID's chief critics.
Bill Jaynes, who runs All Things Bright and British, finds his establishment now located outside the new, tighter PBID zone.
Jaynes showed up at last night's meeting at the First Baptist Church of La Mesa wearing a "No PBID" sticker on his shirt and was told he needed to remove the sticker because it was in violation of the church's no politics policy. Jaynes refused and left, but Deena While, another strong PBID critic, stayed through the meeting and spoke favorably about what she was hearing.
"I like what I'm seeing so far,'' While said. "I think it is good to start small and then grow it.''
"Small" is the key word there. The new PBID zones were clearly drawn to answer critics of the bolder PBID that would have extended through three zones and encompassed the Vons Center, Sprouts, La Mesa Lumber and all of the city's Civic Center. The new, PBID-Lite, is less than half the size and excludes all residential property and virtually all areas not directly part of what might be called the La Mesa Boulevard sphere of influence.
The new PBID's eastern boundary would be 4th Street and would extend west to Acacia, extending north and south of La Mesa Boulevard only to Lemon and Allison and only the southern side of Allison.
"We want to stick strictly to the area that will be effected by the city's streetscape project,'' said Lynn McRea, the Village accountant who heads the PBID committee.
McRea acknowledges the leaner PBID would generate fewer fees to fuel the committee's ambitions, but she said she believes there will still be enough income to go beyond simple maintenance.
"We are committed to professional management,'' McRea said. "This is about putting this little village on the map, taking it up a notch.''
La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid, who also attended Monday's meeting, spoke in favor of professional management of the Village endeavors. "A PBID can't be run by a committee,'' Madrid said. "It has to be run by a professional and it can't be done on a shoe-string.''
But with a scaled back footprint, it is clear there will be fewer property owners to fund the new organization, though McRea believes professionally run events and marketing efforts can generate more income to support the PBID efforts beyond the assessments for local properties.
McRea's PBID committee will meet every Monday in July to begin rebuilding a budget and will determine the eventual assessments landowners will be asked to approve in establishing a PBID.
The new boundaries, which were approved by a unanimous vote on Tuesday, will be used to begin a new petition process in which a majority of property owners will need to approve the concept before it can go to a formal balloting process.
Eventually, if the Village property owners agree to the PBID, the City Council will be asked to approve the establishment of what is essentially a property-owner imposed special assessment that will force all land owners within the district to contribute to a budget for extra maintenance, security and marketing. Over the next few weeks, the committee will be revisiting how much money they hope to raise through these assessments for those purposes.
The last PBID effort ran into election-year opposition when opponents described it as a tax and fomented opposition among property owners, churches and some business owners who have been struggling in a difficult retail environment.
The new, smaller version, was clearly designed to answer the critics and focus on the core business district, which is about to undergo a major streetscape facelift.
With the city and some of the downtown area's largest property owners clearly no longer major players, the new PBID will also be able to answer critics who claimed the large property owners had undue influence in the process. But without those large property owners, including the City of La Mesa itself, the new PBID may find over the next few weeks that it is harder to raise significant funds from smaller businesses.
It is also unknown how the new, leaner PBID will play to critics in the community and on the City Council who came to see the original plan as too big and certainly too politically sensitive to support.
After Monday's meeting Jaynes and While were seen meeting outside his now-excluded business, looking at the new PBID map and trying to devise a response.
"I'm not ready to talk yet,'' Jaynes said. "I need to look at this.''