What is a community Benefit District (CBD)?
Community Benefit Districts (CBDs) are public-private partnerships formed by property owners in a specific geographic area to improve quality of life, build community, and promote economic activity.
CBDs provide supplemental services such as safety patrols, sidewalk cleaning, park maintenance, retail and restaurant recruitment, resident and business advocacy, and more to improve the basic level of services provided by the City (to supplement city services, NOT replace city services). These services are funded by property owners who pay an annual assessment based on the size of one’s land, building or home, and other determining factors.
Forming a CBD requires formulating an annual budget and a management plan, which will be implemented by a nonprofit organization. The organization will be governed by a board of district property owners, businesses, renters, and other stakeholders.
As a unified community we decide what services we want to address and how we allocate our resources, while having a significant voice with the City.
Why a CBD for Excelsior?
For a long time, neighborhood groups, concerned neighbors, merchants, and property owners have discussed Mission Street and Geneva Avenue corridors challenges and successes. This was once again highlighted in the 2018 Excelsior and Outer Mission Strategy, which recommended forming a Community Benefit District (CBD) to address some of these challenges. That is why property owners, merchants, non-profits, and other stakeholders, working under the guidelines of the Excelsior and Outer Mission Strategy, developed a plan to form the Excelsior CBD in order to improve our commercial corridors cleanliness, safety, health, economic vitality, and aesthetics for everyone.
CBDs are the driving force behind the success of many of San Francisco’s commercial corridors and mixed-used neighborhoods where they provide supplemental services and actives - such as sidewalk cleaning, pressure washing, graffiti removal, marketing, and more. CBDs have been proven to enhance the upkeep and maintenance of the public rights of way and public realm, improve safety, attract new businesses to vacancies, retain existing businesses, increase property values, and stimulate over community vitality.
So many CBDs have formed in San Francisco in recent years because these districts are effective at improving cleanliness and safety for everyone within their boundaries.
How does a CBD benefit me?
A CBD allows a wide range of service options, including security, maintenance, marketing, economic development, special events, parking improvements, access improvements, etc. in addtition to what the city offers, not instead of what the city offers.
• It is designed and created by those who will pay the assessment.
• It is governed and implemented by those who pay...through a
non-profit, private sector, management organization that manages
the day-to-day operations.
• It is established through petition and ballot support from property
owners who will pay the proposed property assessments.
• Provides for a set term of existence for a CBD and requires a new petition
process by those who pay to renew a district.
• A CBD provides a collective voice for property owners.
How is a CBD established?
A CBD is established through a two phase process:
•Determine need and educate stakeholders
•Develop the “management plan” (business plan)
•Review the management plan and build consensus
•Petition campaign, need 30% of assessment to be paid
•Ballot process–City sends out ballots
Need more yes than no returned ballots
Ballots are weighted by assessment to be paid
•City Supervisor hearings to establish the district
•Contract between city and non-profit management organization
•Submit assessments to county assessor
Are CBDs effective?
One of the most common questions surrounding CBDs is whether or not they are effective.
Currently there are 15 neighborhood based CBDs in San Francisco in a variety of communities. These districts range from the downtown core of San Francisco, such as Union Square, Yerba Buena, MidMarket, Tenderloin, and Downtown to more residential servicing neighborhoods such as Noe Valley, the Castro, and Ocean Avenue. Many of these districts formed after seeing the success of prior districts in providing supplemental service to that of the City and County of San Francisco. Additionally, a 2012-2013 CBD Impact Analysis found:
CBD areas outperformed citywide trends on the majority of studied indicators, including public realm cleanliness, public safety, and economic resiliency.
Streets within a CBD maintained area were found to be cleaner than similar commercial streets located in the same Supervisorial District.
Crime decreased in CBD areas 68% of the time.
CBD areas were insulated from the impact of the 2007 – 2009 recession.
Retained more of their property value
Saw less reduction in sales tax revenue
Maintained lower commercial vacancy rates
CBDs raise significant revenues from non-assessment sources.
In FY 2017-18, CBDs raised a total of $4,390,392.42 from sources other than assessment revenue. CBDs, typically, raised 25% of their assessment budget in non-assessment sources – which goes back in to the community!
The data and research demonstrate that CBDs are effective at positively impacting the commercial corridors they are in. A full copy of the impact analysis can be found here: https://oewd.org/sites/default/files/FileCenter/Documents/786-CBD%20BID%20Eval%20Report%20FY%2012-13%20updated.pdf