Consultant pitches downtown Hermosa Beach Business Improvement District 

Chart compares business, hotel and property improvement districts. Courtesy of Civitas

by Kevin Cody

Downtown Hermosa Beach moved a step closer to forming a Business Improvement District (BID) last week during a presentation to downtown business and property owners by Kelly Rankin, from the legislative consulting firm of Civitas.

“We’ve been talking about this for about 500 years,” quipped Ed Hart, owner of Maximus Salon, and one of the dozen business owners who attended the meeting at City Hall last Wednesday. 

Gum Tree Gifts and Cafe owner Lori Ford expressed concern that the annual $30,000 to $50,000 Rankin projected for a downtown BID wasn’t sufficient to make an impact.

But Ralph Russomano, of Hennessey’s Taverns, and treasurer of the Riviera Village BID, noted that the Riviera BID often partners with the City of Redondo Beach on projects such as new planters currently being installed in the Village. He said the Riviera Village BID’s budget of $110,000 annually comes from city business licenses, events organized by the BID, such as the farmers market, and the annual Riviera Village festival.

Rankin said there are an estimated 2,000 BID’s in the U.S. Manhattan Beach has a North Manhattan BID, and a downtown BID. Redondo’s Riviera Village BID dates back to 2003.

Rankin said 51 percent of businesses within a proposed BID must agree to its formation. Assessments, she said, are usually added to business license fees, but may also be invoiced separately.

Proceeds are generally used for beautification projects, special events and marketing, she said.

A BID formation generally takes six to 10 months and costs $50,000 to $80,000. 

Once a BID is formed, businesses within the district are assessed, whether or not the business owner supported the BID formation.

“There are no free riders. Once boundaries are set the assessments are compulsory,” she said.

Districts may be formed for a maximum of five years, but may be extended another 10 years, she said.

Baja Sharkeez owner Greg Allen asked Rankin how restaurants, who may benefit most from a BID, enlists support from businesses that don’t benefit, such as services.

“I can tell you how to form a district. But broad support requires a powerful presentation from peers,” Rankin said. She noted that assessments can be tiered so businesses that receive the most benefit are assessed the most.

BID board meetings are subject to the State Brown Act, which requires BID documents to be public record, and board meetings to be open to the public.

City manager Suja Lowenthal said in a statement to Easy Reader in February that BID board appointments are subject to city council approval, as are BID expenditures.

Chamber of Commerce President Jessica Accamando urged downtown businesses to complete a survey that asks if they support formation of a downtown BID, and, if so, how much of an assessment they would be willing to pay.

Results of the survey were not available at press time. ER


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