OCEANSIDE — Downtown property owners voted Aug. 7 to form an improvement district that would collect money from downtown business and property owners to fund enhanced safety and cleanliness projects.
Business and property owners gathered at City Council’s Aug. 7 meeting to vote on whether or not they wanted to establish a Downtown Oceanside Property and Business Improvement District (PBID). A PBID is a self-imposed, self-governed, private-sector benefit assessment district that is meant to provide a “special benefit” to assessed parcels above what the city already provides.
Funds are collected on property tax bills and forwarded to a non-profit owners association — MainStreet Oceanside in this case — and must be spent in accordance to the district management plan created when a PBID is formed.
The assessment rate is based on parcel size and type: commercial parcels are charged $0.25 per square feet, public parcels are charged $0.1875 per square feet and religious parcels are charged $0.1250 per square feet. Condos were originally to be charged the same amount as religious parcels, but Main Street Oceanside reduced that amount by 50% for condo owners.
The assessment rate amounts could increase on an annual basis by no more than 3%.
With those charges, the district will have an annual budget of $370,757. Of that amount, 41% will go toward maintenance, 33% to safety, 13% to capital improvement, 11% to administration and advocacy of the district and 2% to contingency of the district.
A governing committee comprised of property owners and other representatives of the assessment district will be formed and be responsible for managing funds and decision-making. That committee will be subject to the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, and will report annually to City Council.
MainStreet Oceanside has been working on forming this district for quite some time now.
Rick Wright, executive director of MainStreet Oceanside, told Council that he has been pursuing his dream of a “better downtown Oceanside” for a while, and noted it wasn’t always easy — particularly when it came to forming this district.
“I have been kicked out of downtown businesses, I’ve received anonymous hate letters, I’ve been called anti-military and unpatriotic,” he said. “I only mention these things to demonstrate that there has always been opposition to our vision of downtown, there always will be and I know that, but I’ve always been willing to listen and to compromise and that’s what we’ve done with the formation of this PBID.”
Brenda Batal, a downtown condo owner, opposed the PBID.
Though she offered praise for the City of Oceanside and MainStreet Oceanside on how they have helped to improve downtown, she thinks Oceanside “is great as it is.”
Batal explained that she and her fellow condo owners make up a small amount of the district considering how small their parcel is.
“I feel like we’re not heard,” she said, adding that she appreciated Main Street Oceanside for reducing the amount condo owners would pay.
Asst. City Manager Deanna Lorson recommended to MainStreet Oceanside that the committee’s bylaws, which have yet to be formed, ensure that condo owners be fairly represented as well.
Ultimately the district passed by 76% of the vote. There were 106 ballots total, with 36 ballots representing $259,577.06 of the district in favor and 70 ballots representing $81,929.76 of the district opposed.
The district will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 and will end Dec. 31, 2024.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son