Renewal of DLBA/PBID Is Far From "Done Deal" Despite Rubberstamping By City Council

by Sandra Rendell
Spokesperson, Downtown Homeowners Unite


[Editor's background: On June 19, 2012, the City Council voted 6-0 (Garcia & Andrews absent, Schipske recused) to accept a signed petition proferred by Downtown Long Beach Associates that barely exceeded the legal requirement of 50%+1 in stakeholders' assessed value, issued a resolution launching a Prop. 218 mail-in ballot process and scheduled an Aug. 7 public hearing to take testimony, tabulate ballots and approve or reject DLBA's proposal to -- for the first time -- levy annual assessments on residential homeowners within downtown LB's "Property Based Improvement District" (PBID).]

(June 20, 2012) -- Buried in all the rhetoric at the City Council meeting last night (June 19) was the announcement of the tally of the petitions supporting the renewal of the DLBA/PBID. Surprisingly, only 50.6% of downtown stakeholders signed petitions in support of the renewal of the PBID. This holds open the tantalizing possibility that the residential property owners can still form a coalition with the commercial property owners to put a stop to this anti-democratic rubber-stamp process between the DLBA and the City Council.

This embarrassing result comes despite major efforts by the current leadership of Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA). Bear in mind that the DLBA is using our tax dollars to lobby for their own renewal.

The issue is pretty simple. DLBA, a privately run entity that for years has basically represented businesses, wants to gain additional revenue by double-charging downtown residents for services for which we already pay taxes to City Hall.

We pay taxes for City services and the City takes that money and hands it over to the DLBA (in three different ways: business license fees, parking meter fees, property taxes on public property in the PBID). And, now we are going to be taxed again via an additional direct property tax on top of what the City pays with our tax dollars on public property in the PBID. To add insult to injury, we do not even get an effective vote.

We have been objecting to this "railroading" now for almost a year. The City Council has not supported the homeowners.

On May 1, 2012, the City Council authorized the DLBA to circulate petitions. Last night at the City Council meeting, the DLBA reported that after six weeks of the petition drive that they had only managed to get 50.6% of the stakeholders to sign a petition. Not a stirring, supportive result. Sounds like they just barely scraped it together from their commercial property owners (202 commercial property owners signed).

More importantly, only 188 out of 2600 residential owners signed the petition. This is only 7% of the residential property owners!!! Why isn't anyone listening? Over 93% of the residential property owners did NOT sign the petition.

Last night (June 19) there were seven speakers on the issue. Of those seven, four were either current or past members of the DLBA Board of Directors. Board members are by the terms of the DLBA by-laws business owners. They do not represent the homeowners' viewpoint. One person who spoke in favor is not even a property owner in the PBID. Again, let's be clear about this: the support for the PBID is coming from the commercial and business owners. [The Council vote was 6-0 to set an August hearing date (motion by Lowenthal; Garcia & Andrews absent; Schipske recused based on partner's real estate downtown)

Downtown Homeowners Unite was ably represented by George Rendell who spoke to the Council about the inadequacy of the special benefits provided by the PBID to the homeowners in the District. He warned that recently Riverside County had to refund an assessment to property owners because it was done improperly.

The City's presentation and summary of the situation (by the Public Works Department) could have been written by the DLBA. It did not represent the homeowners’ point of view or objections.

After the City Council meeting, we were reviewing our daily mail only to find a card from the DLBA urging us to vote "yes" on the renewal of the DLBA/PBID. Can you imagine the arrogance it takes to send this out BEFORE the City Council votes to authorize the balloting?

Makes you wonder who is running the downtown area: Is it the City Council or the DLBA?

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