Council Votes to Impose Special Downtown Assessment (PBID); Ballot Results: When Weighted By Amount of Assessment (Including Large City-Owned Properties Which Cast "Yes" Ballots) Was Approx 77%-24% BUT LBReport.com On-Scene In Vote-Tally Center Saw Many Individual "No" Ballots; Downtown Homeowners Unite Rep's On-Scene Unofficially Tally Indicated More "No" Ballots Than "Yes" (Unweighted By Assessment)
No Councilmember asks for unweighted ballot figure (not including City owned properties) before voting to impose assessment (motion by Lowenthal, 7-0 w/ Garcia & Schipske legally recused for property ownership). Vote will require City (taxpayers) to spend approx. $220,000 annually for its share of downtown assessment
|(Aug. 11, 2012) -- Subsequent development: Council Votes to Impose Special Downtown Assessment (PBID); Ballot Result When Weighted By Amount of Assessment (Includes Large City-Owned Properties Casting "Yes" Ballots) Was Approx 77%-22% BUT LBReport.com On-Scene In Vote-Tally Center Saw Many Individual "No" Ballots
Downtown Homeowners Unite Rep On-Scene Says Her Unofficial Tally (photo right below) Indicated More "No" Ballots Than "Yes" (Unweighted By Assessment)
(August 8, 2012) -- The City Council voted
The Council action followed a public hearing in which speakers in favor of the assessment (including a number of downtown businesspeople) outnumbered opponents. After public testimony concluded, ballots from property owners were tallied in the City Clerk's basement election center. The ballot tally process was open to the public and observed by LBReport.com. [In our opinion, the City Clerk's tally process was very well done.]
1,104 ballots were cast. Each individual ballot was audibly "called out" by ballot number and then recorded visually on a large computer display. We heard many "no" votes, but the final percentage of "yes" ballots versus "no" ballots cast wasn't immediately available. Instead, the weighted value of each ballot -- based on the size of the assessment on the property owned by the voting property owner -- was displayed and tallied. Under state PBID law, ballots cast by large property owners (who pay a larger assessment) are more heavily weighted than individual homeowners...and in the downtown LB PBID area, one of the largest property owners is the City of Long Beach and its former Redevelopment Agency.
Several months ago, the City Council voted to cast the City's heavily weighted ballots as a large property owner in favor of the assessment. The action was strongly opposed at the time by Downtown Homeowners Unite, a grassroots downtown residential group that opposed the assessment and urged the Council to remain neutral so the wishes of residents would be reflected in the balloting.
When the ballots were tallied as weighted, the resulting vote (with City Hall's ballots included) was: "yes" (77.54% representing assessments of $1,103,242.10) and "no" (22.46% representing assessments of $319,617.13. The Council then had the choice of whether to impose the special assessment or not.
Immediately after the City Clerk read the vote tally weighted by the respective amounts of assessments (77% to 22%), Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal made the motion to approve the special assessment.
No Councilmember asked what the unweighted percentage of "yes" versus "no" ballots cast was (which would have shown what individual downtown homeowners preferred without the weighted tilt from City Hall-cast "yes" ballots).
Sandra Rendell, spokesperson for Downtown Homeowners Unite, was present in the City Clerk's election center for the ballot count and kept her own unofficial tally (photo below)...and she indicates to LBReport.com that the unweighted ballot result was close to 60% "no" to 40% "yes."
Part way through the official vote tally as observed by LBReport.com, the weighted result was slightly favored the assessment (roughly 53% "yes" to 47% "no") until one VERY large property owner pushed the weighted result into the roughly 70% "yes" range, where it increased and remained for much of the rest of the tally.
Downtown Homeowners Unite spokesman Sandy Rendell told LBReport.com after the vote individual homeowners were effectively outvoted by ballots cast by City owned properties PLUS the RDA successor agency owned properties (both governed by City Council) plus the Pike property (which belongs to the City but is voted by the tenant).
DLBA Executive Director Kraig Kojian was also present in the City Clerk's vote tabulation center; he had no comment after the vote tally with the Council enacting vote then-pending and referred us to a media advisory he said would be issued...and it was, within minutes of the Council vote [text below, received at 8:30 p.m.].
LONG BEACH, Calif. (August 7, 2012) -- At tonight’s (August 7) City Council meeting, Long Beach Councilmembers approved in a unanimous vote, 7-0 (with Vice Mayor Garcia and Councilmember Schipskie recusing themselves), to renew the Downtown Property Based Improvement District (PBID).
The 7-0 Council Aug. 7 vote to approve the special assessment will require the City of Long Beach to pay roughly $220,000 annually from other city resources to benefit downtown. The downtown PBID has been in place since 1998, but until now applied only to businesses/commercial property owners. Supporters of renewing the PBID and extending it to residential property owners argued that it promotes a safe, clean, energetic and evolving Downtown with enhanced programs and services. Opponents likened it to double-taxation for services.
Some city officials have recently suggested setting up PBID special assessment districts in parts of Central LB and NLB, using the same system used downtown. Central LB and NLB both have large city land holdings...including now-former Redevelopment owned properties.
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