Consultant retained to explore downtown BID
by Kevin Cody
A Business Improvement District (BID) consultant has been retained by the City of Hermosa Beach to gauge support for a downtown improvement district, Senior Planner Christy Teague told the City Council at its Tuesday, January 24 meeting. The consultant is expected to meet with downtown business and property owners in March or April.
Exploring formation of a downtown BID was one of 10 priorities identified by the council when it approved a 10-year Hermosa Beach Economic Development Plan last July.
Approval of a downtown BID would require businesses, and possibly property owners, to vote to tax themselves to pay for downtown improvements.
In response to questions about who would appoint BID committee members, and who would decide how BID funds are spent, City Manager Suja Lowenthal wrote in an email, “When it comes to City Council, the advisory board would be proposed by the business group, and the Council would confirm the Board. At that time, the City Council would approve the budget estimate and categories of spending planned by the formation committee/advisory board.
Downtown Manhattan Beach, and North Manhattan Beach, have had BIDs for over a decade. Manhattan’s downtown BID is a non-profit, and not subject to the Manhattan City Council. The North Manhattan Beach BID is subject to the city council. Its spending and its board members must be approved by the council.
BID funds typically are spent on marketing, special events, and capital improvements.
The Hermosa Beach Economic Development Plan was prepared by city staff, and a 22-member committee, which met for two years. The committee included Council Member Mike Detoy and then Council Member Mary Campbell, Planning Commissioners David Pederson, and Pete Hoffman, and 18 Hermosa Beach business and commercial property owners.
The plan listed 30 economic goals, 10 of which the council prioritized for completion within 12 months of last July
Progress has been made on eight of the 10 priorities, including the downtown BID, Teague told the Council at its January 24 meeting
Mayor Raymond Jackson expressed doubt about support for a downtown BID.
“I’ve talked to many businesses…. And I’ve only talked to three or four who are interested. Is this an exercise in futility?” Jackson asked. The BID consultant is budgeted at $5,000.
City Manager Suja Lowenthal responded, “Prior to our new chamber president [Jessica Accamando], I would have had a different answer. But she and the chamber board have done a lot of legwork in assessing its interest, and conveying its value…. So I can honestly say, in speaking with the chamber, that there is an interest.”
Other prioritized goals that have been budgeted are a $150,000 downtown lighting improvements study; and an $80,000 study of gateway, and wayfinding signs, Teague reported.
Setting fees for outdoor dining decks on public property, and associated car lane reconfigurations on Pier and Hermosa Avenue were also among the council’s 10 Economic Plan priorities. At the Tuesday meeting, the council directed city staff to recommend dining deck fees, and a plan to reconfigure the related street reconfigurations prior to May 1, when the approximately 60, temporary dining deck permits expire.
Long term policies for outdoor music on both public, and private property will be included in the dining deck report, Teague said.
Developing an “identity” for the downtown, and preserving street level commercial space for retail, and restaurants are the two prioritized economic goals the city has not made progress on, Teague said. ER