Now, you might read that and think, like me: So what? At first glance it appears to have nothing to do with me (and the world does revolve around me, doesn't it?). However, if you live or shop or dine in San Mateo, it has plenty to do with you.
San Mateo considers itself to be a sustainable city -- not just with its green buildings and conservation projects, but also economically. Our 92,000 residents help support 450 downtown businesses as part of the 3,000 commercial businesses operating here, along with another 2,000 home-based businesses. And what those businesses do as a group can and will affect what we pay for services and goods here in town.
So what is a PBID? It is a property business improvement district (the downtown association's full name for it is the "Downtown San Mateo Property-Based Business Improvement District"), where property owners are assessed an additional dollar amount via their property tax bill to be used for improvements within a defined area.
Here's an important detail: The assessment, if it's approved, will be approved by those same property owners through a majority percentage vote. In other words, if you own 20 percent of the property in the proposed boundaries, then your vote counts as 20 percent of the votes. Larger land owners get the say in this one.
The monies taken in through the PBID will be managed by the Downtown San Mateo Association (DSMA). They are a group of volunteers made up of business owners or their representatives. These merchants have banded together as a nonprofit organization to pool funds for promoting and improving the downtown area. The PBID will bring the property owner's monies into this fund for specific uses.
The funds it will provide will be used to maintain public places, clean up litter and graffiti, clean the sidewalks, attract new business, and more. It's hard to argue with anything that will increase property values and make our downtown more welcoming.
But there are other factors to consider. Our downtown area currently has a lower vacancy rate than the national average. Will that continue after implementing the PBID? Or are the small businesses to be sacrificed for the greater good?
Typically, when a property owner has an increase in property tax or a special assessment, it is passed on to the merchant in the form of rent increases. Even though this proposed assessment is only for five years, I would be surprised to see a rent decrease at the end. Rent increases drive up the cost of doing business. That increase is then passed on to you and me for services and goods. Now we are at the part that affects us!
I understand that my city has less and less money to provide services. It is an ongoing challenge for City Hall to make the tough budget decisions that will keep San Mateo the great city we are used to.
I want a clean, safe, vibrant downtown area to shop in. Yet I do not want to pay more to have my hair styled.
So, what will be the right decision? Join me tonight to learn more at the City Council meeting. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at .