A few thoughts on our new Economic Development Team

I just posted the City’s press release on our new Economic Development Team: Economic Development Team Hits the Ground Running [Press Release].

Is this basically the beginning of a Business Improvement District?

From Wikipedia: A business improvement district (BID) is a defined area within which businesses pay an additional tax or fee in order to fund projects within the district’s boundaries.

….BIDs provide services, such as cleaning streets, providing security, making capital improvements, construction of pedestrian and streetscape enhancements, and marketing the area. The services provided by BIDs are supplemental to those already provided by the municipality.[1]

On the possibility of a BID: While I’m sure our local businesses are paying enough, I have no doubt in my mind that a BID will benefit them immensely. Yes, I’m an advocate of BIDs. I’ve seen so many downtowns across Long Island improve because of BIDS. Look at Franklin Ave & Seventh Street in Garden City. Look at the Huntington downtown or what Post Avenue in Westbury is currently going through (yes, it’s better than it was). Bedford Avenue in Bellmore is another example. Pretty much every downtown in the Hamptons has a BID as well as most parts of Manhattan & Brooklyn (both going through an ongoing renaissance. check this out).

BIDs will set a beautification style, enforce it and get it done. This infrastructure-beautification ultimately helps all the local businesses, which is something both our downtowns need help with. I know nothing about Beech Street, but I feel like the main commercial area on Park is losing its character more and more every year. Red tile roofs are being replaced by plain ones. Red roofs and facade tile are being painted over with colors that don’t match well. New buildings are going up with cheap looking fucco (fake stucco) that sags, tears and stains. Our sidewalks are gross with lard stains and could be nicer. We could use some pedestrian lighting so it’s not so dark and scary at night.  BIDs can bring all of this. They can transform our downtown into a place where you’d want to be more and more. Yes, it will cost a few bucks, but it’s an investment.

I know nothing about some of the members of this team, but I am glad to see Sustainable Long Island on board. I’ve been following those folks for years and they are very impressive. I can’t wait to see what this new team does for our downtowns.

downtown

 

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11 thoughts on “A few thoughts on our new Economic Development Team”

  1. Hopefully it’s not like the surf competition where money was collected from small business owners and flyers to advertise them were never distributed.

  2. Anthony,

    There are two types of BID’s….a P-BID and a B-BID. P-BID is a property based BID where the property owners pay the assessment based on a predetermined formula and approved by a majority of the property owners. If the business has a triple net lease the cost can be passed onto the tenant. The B is, you guessed it, where the business pays the assessment directly and they are the ones to vote on the passage of the BID. There are very specific rules as to how and where the funds can be spent.

    So much goes into the formation of one but I believe Long Beach could benefit from an actual plan. I’ve seen firsthand how an area can improve with the presence of a BID having managed more than a few in Los Angeles. Wish they would form one here so I could manage it!

    Tracy

  3. Hmm, I proposed this to the last administration and the previous admins before that. I hope this administration pushes forward to go for it especially in the west end where its historical and they would certainly qualify.

  4. I would say both the west end and main district are historical and both need it. I agree. I really hope it gets pushed through as well.It’s time for Long Beach to grow up, smell the coffee and copy other success stories around the country, like what Tracy said.

    This is a step in the right direction.

  5. Tracy, I remember our dinner at Sugo over a year ago when we talked about a BID for the West End. Wouldn’t it be great if this finally came to fruition! And if it does, I hope that you can lend your experience and expertise to it.

    A BID designation is exactly what the commercial districts of Long Beach need. The sooner the better.

  6. Steve,

    Tax dollars can be spent in any way for any reason in any part of town. With a BID they provide services above and beyond what is provided by the city and the money can only be spent within that district’s boundaries on services decided upon by property owners that are on the board of directions. If Long Beach had a BID for the West End, the Park Avenue shops and LB Blvd separately the funds collected from each specific BID would go to beautify and improving only that area.

    Being registered as a not-for-profit with the IRS also allows them to apply for beautification grants and get assistance from the state for certain projects. For instance, the City of LA provided free rubber gloves and trash bags for the BIDs I managed and we would use them for the decorative trash cans the BID installed.

    Property owners (or business owners) have way more control over how and where their additional money is spent and a lot of them actually like that. Each area can have its own identity and it gets done a lot faster!

    Always happy to answer any questions about BIDs.

  7. One of the things that made the North Shore BIDS so successful was the willingness of the towns to support architectural review boards. Northport was the first significant turn around, beginning during the 70s. There was a lot of moaning and groans about property rights, but eventually everyone got on board and turned a desolate abyss of gin mills and empty stores into a charming, inviting area that commands top rents even though parking is a nightmare. Huntington did the same thing. But both towns have capitalized on the historic buildings, low key signage and quirky shops, drawing antique stores, art galleries and restaurants. Zoning laws are sacrosanct, variances are not handed out easily.

    I love Long Beach but charming is not a word I would use to characterize it, but the potential is here. Sustainable Long Island had and still has significant input with the town of Huntington so I, too, welcome their suggestions and abilities.

  8. well said. I forgot to mention Northport, but had it in mind when I wrote the article. Potential is here and it’s a step in the right direction. Let’s just hope they don’t screw it up.

  9. Chris, you nailed two of the crucial components that are keeping the city from realizing it’s “charm” potential: The Architectural Review Board is defined in the city Code of Ordinances Sec. 7-250. Part of this section decries the “harmful effects of ….monotonous similarity” and allows the board to deny permits to any structure with substantially identical façade to another structure on the same street or within 150 feet” Really? Have you seen the two houses on Pensylvania Avenue that were built on a subdivided lot. They are exactly the same. Similarly,” the board may disapprove an application for a permit when there is striking dissimilarity, visual discord or inappropriateness with respect to other structures located or proposed to be located on the same street. Too many examples of this in the West End to even list. The Zoning Laws should have been overhauled 15 years ago but certainly as soon as the FEMA rules went into effect. Variances are handed out like candy on Halloween. Lastly, the city needs a Planning Board. One was temporarily formed years ago when the city was putting together its Master Plan. But without a detailed, cohesive vision, enforced by a Planning Board, strict Zoning and Architectural Review Boards, anyone can erect anything they want anywhere they want. Now, when new houses are literally popping up all over the city, design guidelines and form based codes need to be strictly enforced.

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