L.A. CITY HALL: Report, criticism/praise, value of Los Angeles' business improvement districts, BID's elsewhere in California also being questioned, facing legal challenges........
* Los Angeles Times: "L.A. business improvement districts' value questioned" - "The L.A. arts area's improvement district was recently ordered disbanded. Critics say some districts are bloated bureaucracies. Others see benefits." - From the LAT:
When the bike patrols suddenly ended in downtown Los Angeles' arts district last month, junk began to pile up against the curb on Seaton Street. Over on Mateo Street, a trail of aqua-blue chips from shattered car windows glittered along the gutter. "It's like they got the memo the guys were gone," said actress Dawn Cody, who lives in the arts district.
The private patrols were run by the neighborhood's business improvement district — one of 10 downtown and 39 throughout Los Angeles. The city authorizes them to collect fees from property owners to fund services that City Hall can't or won't provide. Many say the improvement districts have transformed downtown by enlisting cleanup and security crews and promoting the once-abandoned area to new residents and investors. But critics say that in the newly thriving central city, some business improvement districts have become bloated bureaucracies whose job can be done cheaper and better by others.
"There is no need to spend $1.3 million per year to keep the neighborhood clean," Yuval Bar-Zemer, who developed the arts district's Biscuit Company Lofts, said in an email. "We could get it done in a fraction of the cost, and we may be able to get the city to contribute the baseline services that we all deserve."
After Bar-Zemer and other property owners took the city to court, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled in December that the improvement district had overstepped its authority by sponsoring bus tours and other marketing efforts aimed at outsiders. Improvement districts are supposed to be voluntary pacts that serve property owners. They're not supposed to morph into mini-governments serving the community at large.
The arts district group was ordered to disband in May. Overnight, the men and women in the bright blue shirts who scrubbed graffiti, washed sidewalks and deflected petty crime vanished.
The court ruling comes as improvement districts in California are facing increasing legal challenges .................