Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are, by design, controlled by a very small group of commercial property owners, excluding the voice of most paying into the BID and completely excluding residential property owners, tenants, commercial operators who lease their sites, and other stakeholders in Venice. Venice Beach has long been a center for democracy and diversity in views and a BID reduces democracy and participation in decisions that impact our community.
First and foremost, there are no “voting rights” for those that have to pay for the BID after the BID is created, or other mechanism to directly impact the decisions and actions of the BID. Instead, BIDs are controlled by a non-profit organization, with no clear mechanisms to ensure ongoing accountability to commercial property owners in the BID who are all required to pay assessments, nor to the City, which controls almost 25% of the property assessments in the BID.
The materials received with the BID petitions are misleading, and make promises to commercial property owners that cannot be upheld. For example,
“The Venice Beach BID will provide services the City doesn’t, such as homeless outreach…” In fact, the City and County provide resources for outreach to homeless residents and more outreach will not help move people into housing. The City and County, as well Venice stakeholders, need to fund and advocate for more housing solutions so that people can move off of our streets and sidewalks. Until we increase housing supply, more outreach will just duplicate services, waste resources, and not produce any visible change in homelessness in our community.
“The Venice Beach BID will work with the City to make sure limited City services are delivered more consistently.” BIDs do not have any unique mechanism to make this happen and, in fact, watchdogging the City is one of the key reasons neighborhood councils were formed. This purpose is duplicative and likely will not make any impact.
“This stability can protect your investment and attract additional investment to the neighborhood.” Venice has seen some of the greatest increases in property values and commercial investment in the region over the past decade, without a BID.
Commercial property owners in Venice have long supported the culture and character in Venice. And, in fact, have profited from being a part of the largest tourist attraction in the City of Los Angeles for decades. BIDs have completely changed the character of communities throughout Los Angeles and the state, leading to displacement of small businesses, locally-owned businesses, and residents.
The Venice Beach BID is overly reliant on City land and funds. The City owns substantial land, and is also taking on the cost of assessments for the State-owned land in the area, totaling more than 25% of the annual budget, resulting in more than $450,000 in general fund dollars each year dedicated to this BID. BIDs were intended to be mechanisms for private owners to vote to assess themselves, not to utilize public funds in an unaccountable structure.
A majority of private property owners did not submit petitions to move the BID to this final vote. At the City hearing, only 53% of assessment values were represented in the petitions and, since the City represents 25% of that vote, only about 30% of the votes in support came from private businesses.