Two steps forward and one step back has been the unspoken mantra of a steering committee funded by a group of Village property owners who hope to form a Business Improvement District (BID) in the heart of Pacific Palisades.
As reported previously by the Palisadian-Post on January 25, local property owner Leland S. Ford, of Leland M. Ford and Associates, handed the group a letter on behalf of John Wilson and 10 other Village landowners announcing that they “do not wish to participate.”
Last Friday, however, Ford seemed to have shifted his position on a BID in the Palisades. When asked by one of the group members if he was on board with the BID process, Ford said: “I have at least one foot on board.”
Commercial property owners representing more than 50 percent of the proposed assessment to be paid would have to sign a petition before the proposal for a BID can move to the City Council for approval. The City in turn would then send ballots to all business property owners asking them whether they want to establish a district with a yes or no vote, which would then again be weighted by the amount of assessment paid by each property owner.
Ford’s support is critical in the process, as the properties owned by Leland M. Ford and Associates account for a significant portion of the assessment “to be paid.” In fact, the Ford properties, which include Ralphs, Norris Hardware, Pharmaca and the Palisades Car Wash, are in the top- three highest assessments “to be paid” (currently projected at more than $9,000 annually).
During Friday‘s meeting, the group was presented with a revised budget formula that lowers the overall administrative and service costs to be provided by the BID. For example, the amount to be allocated for street cleaning, tree trimming and trash services was cut from about $95,000 to $75,000 and marketing was reduced from about $20,000 to $13,000. The overall budget to be assessed dropped from about $190k to $148k.
Despite the revised budget, however, not everyone was convinced. Palisades Patrol CEO Scott Wagenseller, who leases space within the proposed BID’s boundaries, voiced the loudest opposition to the process.
“We have Palisades PRIDE, we have Palisades Beautiful, we have the Swarthmore Association: these are folks who are willing to repair and maintain the community themselves without enduring administrative costs, government taxation and new layer of government,” Wagenseller said. “We have a lot of folks here and have lots of money we can donate to individual projects.”
Wagenseller added, “Landlords are not going to lose money on this. We are the ones who are going to be hit by this” [when the costs are passed on by the landlords to their tenants].
Susan Carroll, the longtime owner of Gift Garden Antiques on Antioch, voiced support for the Village BID.
“I think that a lot of these [volunteer] organizations are aging out,” Carroll said. “Secondly, when I look at the figures on this page, my fair share as a tenant would be $20 a month, and I’m more than willing to kick in $20 to have the sidewalks cleaned.”
Wally Miller, founding member of Palisades PRIDE, echoed Carroll’s sentiments. “We were set up to do improvements and not maintenance,” Miller said. “These people [in various community groups] have been doing this for years and they’re getting older.”
The steering committee’s next meeting will be March 22.
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