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LA MESA – The Steering Committee analyzing the possibility of establishing a property-based improvement district in downtown La Mesa held an organizational meeting Monday night and selected property owner Lynn McCrea as chairwoman of the group.
McCrea, who is an accountant, will lead the 16-member group, which includes property owners and business operators, as they pursue the lengthy process required by state law to establish a special district to support and promote business activities in the Village. Property owner Shannon O’Dunn, owner and operator of O’Dunn Fine Art in the village (to the right of McCrea in photo above), will serve as McCrea’s vice-chair.
The steering committee discussed whether membership should be limited to downtown property owners only, but quickly decided that the interests of property owners and business operators were both important to the success of any district that will win the support of a majority of property owners.
Such a district, referred to as a PBID for Property Based Improvement District, establishes a special charge paid into a fund that supports special services for the district. Typically, extra security, promotions and landscape maintenance augment the usual city services. Little Italy, downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp, and downtown El Cajon have established such special assessment districts.
In La Mesa, the early discussions of the PBID has stirred some angst among downtown merchants who have complained about being left out of the early process and have expressed concerns that landlords will raise rents to make up for the PBID assessment.
City of La Mesa officials have been openly supportive of establishing a PBID saying that without that show of support from downtown property owners the city will be reluctant to go forward with the $5-million project planned to redesign and renovate La Mesa Boulevard through the Village area.
Monday’s meeting was intended for the Steering Committee members, but did include a “public comment’’ period and several local merchants not associated with the steering committee attended the meeting.
All meetings of the group going forward were set to occur on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month and will be held in the conference room at the La Mesa Community Center.
The committee reviewed a tentative timeline that, if approved by a majority of property owners in the proposed district, would have the first funds from the district flowing in January of 2013.