Tue, Apr

A Venice BID is at Your Doorstep: To Stay Silent or Make Big Noise is the Question!


WATCHING THE NEIGHBORHOOD-An entity called a ‘Business Improvement District’ or BID is almost here. The City Council will meet and vote on its creation in late August. What? You don’t know anything about it? You and just about everyone else in Venice. This is one very big secret. 

Here’s what it is. A specific ‘district,’ run by a public-private partnership, whose boundaries have been gerrymandered to include properties owned by the pushers of this entity and large swathes of city property. Boundaries include Ocean Front Walk from North Venice to Barnard Way, includes part of Rose, touches parts of Main St., 4th, Sunset, Abbot Kinney, and Windward. It’s a large area. See the map for a better picture of its reach. The public relations put out by supporters is that they are goilng to make our world in Venice cleaner and ‘safer.’ I think we are hearing that line right now on our national political scene. Who doesn’t like ‘safe?’

This proposed BID will be run by a public-private partnership which will receive funding from the City estimated to include about $450,000 from the General Fund, to run the proposed ‘clean and safe’ services. There appears to be little accountability and oversight built into this process. The assessments on the owners (don’t call it a tax) will filter into the coffers of the partnership. We are talking about millions of dollars. Property owners who vote for the BID, will have no say in what goes on with this entity unless they somehow get on its board. Fat Chance! 

The gerrymandered district includes a huge amount of city-owned property. It is estimated that the assessment from city property will comprise about 25% of assessment monies collected and, in turn, the managers of city land will have 25% of the vote for or against a BID. You already know how the city will vote on this. The deck is stacked in favor of a ‘yes’ vote for a BID. 

This new group will create its own quasi police force complete with batons, pepper spray and uniforms to keep ‘order.’ Call them green shirts, call them brown shirts — we all know what they are: minimally trained ‘officers’ who will attempt to assert their newly acquired authority over the residents and whomever else (think the poor and the homeless) crosses their path, get in their way or those who just don’t look like they ‘belong.’ They are the Deciders. Sounds scary, right? You should be scared. BID’s are supposed to keep the place cleaner too — now that’s not scary, right? Who doesn’t like clean? So remember the BID mantra — ‘clean and safe.’ 

We have not read a public statement from the council office on this BID creation. BID’s seem like an elegant way to outsource the City’s job and many of its responsibilities. Cities seem to love BID’s.

Last but not least, we should tell you that this very quietly forming BID is being pushed by some property owners who are the most interested in controlling OFW — owners who have stealthily converted many of our residential units into short-term rentals —entire buildings we should add, are pushing for a BID formation. Some of the BID pushers are now being investigated by the LA City Attorney for illegal conversions of rental units. This was announced in the LA Times. 

Gentrification on OFW will be a by-product of this entity as it has been in other BID’s in other cities. While there may be a lot in this BID for the big property owners, there is nothing in it for tenants who will have absolutely no say in the BID forming around them and their businesses. No vote, nada. In no way is a BID a democratic process. Tenants can expect the property owners to pass on the costs of the BID to them. 

If you want this BID, stay quiet. If you don’t, say something. Make ‘big noise.’ There are many lawsuits already filed against BID’s all over the city, your big noise will be in very good company. 

Tara Devine is the BID’s consultant and point person for information. Her contact is: [email protected]


(Marian Crostic and Elaine Spierer are co-founders of Imagine Venice … where this commentary was first posted.)  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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