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LA MESA -- Three weeks into the petition phase of efforts to establish a Property Based Improvement District in La Mesa Village and supporters report they are more than one-third of the way to success.
Lynn McRea, the La Mesa accountant who led the PBID steering committee, said petitions from property owners representing $75,000 of the PBID's eventual assessment have been received so far.
That amount does not include the approximately $64,000 that would come with a signed petition from the City of La Mesa, one of the larger Village district property owners.
Assuming the city will eventually sign its petition, the petition total would be about $140,000, just $50,000 short of the amount needed to approve a formal balloting phase in the three-step process.
"We feel very good about how things have moved along,'' McRea said Friday. "I've been in touch with the consultants, who have handled a lot of these, and they think we're moving ahead well.''
Petitions supporting a ballot must be gathered by property owners representing more than 50 percent of the $370,000 that would eventually be raised each year to support improved maintenance and marketing of the La Mesa Village area.
McRea said the supporters have been writing letters to property owners -- many of whom are not La Mesa residents -- and explaining the PBID effort. The group, sometimes in tandem with PBID opponents, have also been meeting with local tenant and church groups.
"Another mailing is going out now and we're about to start the one-on-one visit phase with property owners who haven't signed petitions yet,'' McRea said.
While owners of the Vons shopping center have signed a PBID support petition, there are still a number of large property owners, including Pac Bell, Henry's Market and the La Mesa Lumber parcels that have not yet weighed in, McRea said.
PBID opponents -- led by Village merchants Bill Jaynes, Deena While and Craig Maxwell -- have continued their own campaign, meeting with groups and posting "No PBID'' signs.
Jaynes has also taken every public speaking opportunity at city meetings possible to make anti-PBID points. At the last City Council meeting he brought a case of Flake chocolates to the podium and held up the extra box of the confection he says he would have to sell every day to cover the assessment.
In some ways, there are supporters of the PBID who would argue that Jaynes' Flake gambit actually makes a point in favor of the PBID. In this view, rents along La Mesa Boulevard have fallen so low -- less than $1 per square foot in some cases -- that marginal businesses that can't usually afford such a prominent location are filling key locations with businesses that don't generate many sales.
Opponents of the PBID argue that the charm of the Village comes from the mix of small, eclectic shops and any added costs eat into their small margins.