Spend some time hanging around business improvement districts and you’ll certainly hear a bunch of entitled zillionaires whining, bragging, or lying about how they voluntarily agree to spend their own damn money to provide services that the City of Los Angeles is too incompetent, too broke, or too both of these to provide. They just love explaining this to everyone. And the City of Los Angeles is also thrilled with that narrative. This City-produced BID FAQ explains it quite clearly:
[A] majority of business owners of commercial property owners in a given area decide to acquire special benefits and to pay for those benefits themselves.
The story serves everyone’s interests. The BIDdies get to imagine themselves as heroes of putative private sector efficiency and the City gets a bunch of useful idiots to carry out policies that would be incredibly illegal if the City did them directly. Everybody wins but the citizens of Los Angeles. The part you don’t hear too much about, though, the part that none of them really like to discuss, is that when property owned by the City or by other public agencies is included in a BID then the City or the other public agency is also subject to these assessments.
This is specifically authorized by the Property and Business Improvement District Law under which BIDs are established in California.1 This means that when the City Council approves a business improvement district it’s often also approving an ongoing annual payment to the BIDdies. Which, by the way, can be substantial. Over the last few days I looked at various public records involved in BID formation in LA and learned that the City of Los Angeles is on the hook for annual payments to BIDs of at least $2,278,604.2
If LAUSD, Metro, and the County are included the total is $3,710,281 and property owned by the State of California brings the total amount of public money paid annually to LA BIDs to $4,203,276.3 These days, with the City of Los Angeles furloughing employees and moaning about the price of hotel rooms to protect unhoused residents from the ongoing pandemic, there are much, much better uses that that money could be put to.4 Continue reading The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It