For the past several months, supporters and opponents of the Chinatown Business Improvement District have argued bitterly about whether businesses, property owners and residents see a need for the proposed organization. As a City Council vote on the BID draws near, that dispute is growing even more heated.
Earlier this month, the coalition fighting against the business improvement district sent a letter to City Council members asserting that a record number of objection forms had been filed at City Hall against the proposal. Their letter stated, “Over five hundred properties in the proposed BID object to the formation of a Chinatown BID.”
Now City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a key BID backer, has released the final numbers. According to her office, 562 objections were received from 388 property owners (or 20% of building owners). Ninety of the objection forms were received from residents, who would be assessed $1/year if the district is created. The objections are linked to properties representing 19% of the assessed land value in the BID catchment area.
In presentations before three downtown community boards last year, BID supporters said about half of the property owners within the proposed district had returned ballots and, of those responding, 97%, or about 550 property owners, were in favor.
The official threshold for approving a BID proposal is 51%, but city and state officials generally like to see widespread support in a community before approving a new business district. A City Council vote has not yet been scheduled.