What is the “Forward, Together” campaign?
It’s an outreach campaign organized by the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. It’s designed to bring business owners together in the Point Loma Village and Shelter Island area.
How will that outreach be done?
At a series of business forums & workshops, coffees, small group sessions, and one-on-one meetings.
Are these sessions open to everyone?
Yes, all sessions organized by the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce are open to everyone. While the general public is welcome, these are business sessions being held to discuss business issues only, and are a way to strengthen the business community in the area.
What is the first step in this business betterment effort?
A survey was created and mailed to over 750 Point Loma businesses asking for their input on key issues like government advocacy & cutting red tape, parking & traffic, advertising & promotion, and security & lighting. The survey is ongoing so if you haven’t completed it yet you should. You can get more information by calling 619-295-5171.
What happens next?
Based on the initial results of the survey and from discussions at the first business forum held May 23, 2012 at the Bali Hai, the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors will decide how to proceed, including possibly moving forward with forming a business improvement district.
What’s a Business Improvement District (BID)?
A BID is a geographic area created by the San Diego City Council following the rules spelled out in state law and city policy. Businesses within a BID pay an annual assessment. The money is used to improve the business climate, attract and retain businesses to an area, and make an area more attractive to businesses and their customers. You can find out more about BIDs by going to the following city of San Diego web page: www.sandiego.gov/economic-development/about/bids.shtml.
Who oversees the BID – the City or the business community?
You do. While the City Council creates the BID, it contracts with a local not-for-profit business betterment group to create and oversee business improvement activities in the community. In the case of Point Loma, that group would likely be the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has a board of directors (BOD) that would create an annual budget and oversee the use of assessments. If you pay the assessment you have a say in how the money is spent. You’ll automatically be a voting member of any organization with which the City contracts and you’ll be eligible to run for election to the BOD.
What are some of the benefits of a BID?
In an April 2012 report prepared by National University and its Institute for Policy Research, BIDs were found to create jobs, support small business owners, and to have renewed some of San Diego’s oldest commercial corridors. That same report found most businesses in BIDs receive a greater than 5:1 return on investment for their annual assessments. And that does not include the benefits of banding together with 12,000 other small businesses in San Diego to advocate for low business tax rates and reduced red tape.
To view the report go to: www.nusinstitute.org/assets/resources/pageResources/BIDEconImpactPaper.pdf. There’s also benefit information on the BID Council website at: www.bidcouncil.org/about-us/benefits-of-a-bid.
We’ve tried forming a BID before and failed. Why try again?
Formation fails for several reasons such as proposed assessment were too high, potential benefits were ill-matched to the community, communications were poor, and sometimes it’s just the wrong time. It took Old Town San Diego three tries before it successfully formed a BID in 1995. Times change, so does the economy, and so do business communities.
Sounds like a decision has already been made to try forming a BID. Has it?
Nope. While the board of directors of the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce believes in BIDs, it believes the most important thing a business community can do is talk. That’s why the survey is being conducted and community meetings are being held. As issues are identified, the question will be asked, “Can a BID help?” If the answer is “yes” to enough issues, the Chamber will consider taking the next step, which is more community meetings. If the answer is still “yes” after that, the Chamber can decide if it wants to move forward with formation.
Then what happens?
Working groups made up of business owners are formed. Groups include, Outreach, Boundaries, Rates, Concept Budget, and By-law Review. (Some of these groups might be combined.) Meeting schedules will be set and publicized. All working group sessions will be open to the public.
Who sets the assessments and how much are they?
You and your business neighbors set the rates through the working group. Rates will vary depending on what a business does, where it’s located, and the potential benefit to the business.
How do the varying rates work?
If formation moves forward, one of the tasks of the Rates Working Group will be to look at what types of businesses would benefit most from certain activities. It would also look at what effect, if any, location would have on this possible activity. For instance, all businesses benefit from keeping the business tax among the lowest in the state and from business advocacy. This benefit is not affected by business type or location. On the other hand, if a marketing campaign was created it would likely benefit retailers and restaurants most, with less benefit to professional services like accountants, doctors, and marine repair. For this type of activity, retailers and restaurants should pay more, services less. The working group would look at a broad range of possible activities and determine the appropriate rates for that package of potential benefits.
Who decides what those possible activities are?
Again, you and your business neighbors do. That’s the task of the Concept Budget Working Group. The concept budget is a general outline of how to spend the money. If a BID is formed, the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, assuming it receives the contract from the City to oversee the BID, will create an annual budget and submit it to the City for review.
Do I have to join a working group to be involved?
No, but it’s a great way to make sure your voice is heard. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to join in, you can still support BID formation by signing the petition that will be created.
After the working groups finish their work, the concept budget, boundaries, rates and a petition are distributed to all business owners within the proposed BID. Under rules established by the City Council, if the formation process is to move forward, 20% of those businesses have to sign the petition. This is a weighted vote with one-dollar of proposed assessments equaling one vote. If the 20% threshold is reached, the petition is presented to the City, which will conduct an election-by-mail.
How does that election work?
Under rules adopted last year by the City Council, business ballots are counted two ways: (1) on a one-business-one vote basis, and (2) on a weighted basis where each dollar of assessments equals one vote. Both methods must generate at least a majority “yes” vote before the Council moves forward with formation.
What’s the timeline?
If the Chamber moves forward with formation, it will likely take nine months, maybe a bit longer. Building consensus can’t be rushed.
If a BID is formed, how are the assessments collected?
The assessment is automatically added to the City’s business tax. It’s first paid when a business opens and then collected annually when the business tax certificate is renewed.
What does the City do with the money?
It puts it into a designated account and then sends it each month to the not-for-profit business betterment group contracted to oversee that specific BID.
Who’s involved in this effort?
In addition to the Peninsula Chamber, the BID Council of San Diego is offering technical advice. The Chamber has also retained TurpinMcLaughlin Communications (TMC) and Mike McLaughlin to help. Mike is an organization, communications, and marketing expert who reorganized the La Jolla merchants last year into the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, reorganized the Uptown Community Parking District, and formed the Mission Hills & Old Town BIDs. The agreement between TMC and the Chamber is set up so that it can end after the survey is completed should the Chamber decide to not move forward with BID formation.