One of the goals of the Downtown Specific Plan is to set clear standards for the Downtown. Under these standards, merchants and property owners can proceed with improvements in a timely fashion and residents can feel comfortable about downtown development. Nevertheless, it is unrealistic to assume that standards, once set, can remain the same for all time. Since circumstances can change, it is important to monitor the Downtown’s evolution over time.
The adoption and implementation of the Downtown Specific Plan can provide a major impetus for Downtown revitalization. However, most communities involved with Downtown revitalization have found that focusing on land use, circulation and design can be most effective when coupled with an additional emphasis on pedestrian-oriented streetscape improvements, event programming, historic preservation, marketing and promotion and the creation of vibrant public spaces. Such activities are strongly encouraged by the City to be undertaken by the local business community on a voluntary basis, with assistance from the City as necessary.
A "Business Improvement District" (BID) is a method for assessing and collecting fees that can be used to fund various improvements and activities within the district. Generally, their potential roles are broad, including parking improvements, sidewalk cleaning, streetscape maintenance, streetscape improvements (i.e. street furniture, lighting, planting, etc.), promotional events, marketing and advertising, security patrols, public art, trash pick-up, landscaping, and other functions. A BID can be a means of attracting businesses that maintain Downtown’s economic vitality. The BID is one mechanism that can accomplish a whole host of activities associated with the Downtown, from funding to monitoring to organizing. There are several legal forms of "Business Improvement Districts" available under California law. The most common are districts formed under the Parking and Business Improvement Area Law of 1989 (California Streets & Highways Code section 36500 et seq.) Business Improvement Areas (BIA) formed under the 1989 law impose a fee on the business license of the businesses operating within its area, and that fee is used to pay for the improvements and activities specified in the formation documents. The 1989 law is also a recommended choice because it has survived challenge under Proposition 218. The 1989 law requires a great deal of public participation, which is another reason for its popularity. The Council may begin the process by appointing an advisory board to make recommendations on the expenditures of the revenue raised by the assessment, the classification of businesses in the area, and on the method and basis of levying the assessment. Adoption of a resolution of intent to establish a BIA and then a noticed public hearing before the City Council is required. The Council must hear and consider all protests at the public hearing. If written protests are received from business owners who will pay 50 percent or more of the assessment, then the proceedings must be stopped, and no further action may be taken for one year. After the BIA is approved, the Council may order changes in the proposed activities to be funded by the BIA, reduce the proposed assessment (not increase), and may remove (not add) territory from the BIA. For each annual assessment, the advisory board produces a report recommending the expenditures and activities of the BIA for that year. The Council then passes a resolution of intention to levy the assessment, followed by another public hearing, after which the new years’ assessments are levied. A similar assessment procedure was added in 1994 (the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 (PBID), (California Streets & Highways Code section 36600 et seq.), though this procedure makes the assessment upon real property and not upon the business itself. Because of that difference, assessments under the 1994 law should comply with Proposition 218, and so can be blocked by a majority of property owners. A BID for Downtown is recommended to include the 300, 400, and 500 blocks of Main Street. The 300, 400 and 500 blocks each have 24, 36 and 36 twenty-five foot wide lots, respectively, for a total of 96 lots, not including the Civic Center and the City owned parking lots. There are approximately 32, 41, and 23 businesses within the 300, 400 and 500 blocks of Main Street, respectively, for a total of 96 businesses. The key roles initially for the BID are anticipated to include sidewalk cleaning, and streetscape improvements. It may include the construction and maintenance of a parking lot or structure, as required by the parking demand. It is estimated that sidewalk cleaning for the existing 12 foot wide sidewalks would cost approximately $650-$800 per block, if done one a month, for a total monthly cost of approximately $1950-$2400, for the 3 blocks. Sixteen foot wide sidewalks would cost approximately $860-$1060 per block, for a total monthly cost of approximately $2580-$3180. As the needs of the Downtown and the BID change, the scope of the roles of the BID could also change. It may be appropriate to create both a BIA and a PBID as the focus and roles of the two could differ and create a symbiotic relationship.