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There are always many questions when learning about CBDs. Here are a few of the ones

asked most frequently. If you have a question not answered below or would like more information please fill out the contact form at the bottom page.

  • 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.
  • Isn't this something the City should be doing?
    No. A CBD is intended to provide an enhanced range of services within the designated district that the City is not financially able or professionally staffed to provide, including sidewalk sweeping and pressure washing, landscaping, signage, graffiti-removal, placing trained ambassadors in the field, and other desired services. CBDs throughout the country have been created because the private sector recognizes that the public sector cannot deliver the level of service on an affordable basis that private property and business owners demand. CBDs can provide quality, impactful services squarely in the control of private property and business owners already adept at leveraging investment into results. A CBD would not relieve the City of its basic responsibilities for which property taxes are paid and in fact provide a means for ensuring that the City actually performs its responsibilities.
  • Why have a CBD if the City should be providing cleaning services?
    The City and County of San Francisco is only required to maintain the street from curb to curb, not the sidewalk in front of buildings. State code (S&H 5610) and City ordinance (PW 174) place the responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk area from curb to storefront, on propety owners and businesses. This area is where many of the CBD services would be focused. Public Works is enforcing the blight ordinance and graffiti ordinance, the CBD funded services will help property owners comply with these ordinances and reduce their risk of being fined. A CBD can advocate for the waiver of fines, if imposed, on behalf of property owners at Public Works hearings.
  • Would a CBD make it easier for the City to reduce their committment within the district?
    No. Per state law the City and County of San Francisco must maintain its baseline level of service for a CBD area. CBD services are supplemental, above and beyond, the baseline service provided by the City.
  • Our property already performs some of the CBD services, would we be paying twice?"
    No. A CBD would aim to provide services that create a consistent high-quality user experience throughout the commercial corridor. Many properties within CBDs that perform a high level of maintenance for their property would still be able to find efficiencies in coordinating their work with that of a CBD.
  • Who runs the CBD and assessment funds?
    The CBD, if formed, will be a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation with a Board of Directors. Stakeholders in the CBD, including property owners and merchants, will elect the CBD Board of Directors which will have full control over the funds and how they are spent, within the legal guidelines and district management plan. The Board of Directors will be compromised of property owners, merchants, and other corridor representatives/stakeholders. (Note: Per local ordinance 20% of a CBD’s board must be allocated to merchants that do not own property in the CBD.)
  • Is participation in a CBD voluntary?
    Any property that is exempt from assessment can voluntarily participate in the funding of a CBD. Once the required threshold of financial support from the private sector has been established for a given geographic district, all properties that are assessible under California State law are obligated to participate.
  • How are the boundaries of a CBD determined?
    The boundaries of a BID are determined by property owners and their tenants and are typically intended to capture the core of a commercial district or downtown.
  • Is a CBD a government program?
    No. A CBD is an entirely private undertaking. California law requires that the County Supervisors ensure that the CBD's private Board of Directors has been legally constituted and that the County and City of San Francisco properly function as fiscal agents for levying assessments, collecting them as part of property tax payments, and disbursing proceeds to the CBD.
  • Is this another tax controlled by the City?
    No.100% of the CBD assessment funds go back to the district and are controlled by the Board of Directors of the CBD which is made up of property owners, business owners, and other community stakeholders.
  • Would the CBD be permanent?
    No. Under Article 15 of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulation Code a CBD can only be established for up to 15 years. However, when the terms are up the district must be renewed with same process it took to establish the district. If the requirements are not meant for re-establishment the CBD then automatically sunsets.
  • How were the services to be provided by the CBD developed?
    The services to be provided by the CBD were developed as an outgrowth of the community driven Excelsior and Outer Mission Strategy, which demonstrated a desire for cleanliness and safety improvements along the commercial corridor. The steering committee reviewed this data, helped determine the exact need and what an appropriate frequency of service to achieve the committees' goals would be. Finally a multilingual (English, Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog) intercept survey was conducted on the corridor and found that respondents felt that cleaning and safety improvements were most needed for the corridor.
  • Why should Mission Street and Geneva Avenue merchants in the Excelsior and Outer Mission form a Community Benefit District?
    Excelsior and Outer Mission merchants and property owners are able to ensure they will receive sustainable funding that they will direct and control to promote the image and visibility of the commercial corridors and to implement services, such as sidewalk cleaning and graffiti removal, that support business growth and maintain/increase property values. Assessments are fair and shared among all that will benefit which reduces the cost of services to individual property owners by creating an economy of scale. The CBD does not rely on a few generous volunteers and donors, which prevents burn out and allows for consistent delivery of services to promote and improve the commercial corridor year after year.
  • Can assessments increase on a property?
    Assessments for this CBD are determined by using a formula which utilizes a properties linear frontage and building square footage to determine the assessment. An assessment formula cannot be changed and cannot be increased. A particular parcel’s assessment could change based on increases or decreases to either of these characteristics. If they decrease, then the annual assessment would as well. Because cost of doing business is always increasing as well as quality of life issues, the CBD Board of Directors can vote annually to raise the assesstment. An increase cannot exceed the San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CBD Board of Directors also has the option to take no increase as well.
  • What informational meetings and outreach occurred about the Excelsior CBD?
    Informational meetings and community outreach is on-going with more to come. September 12, 2019: Excelsior and Outer Mission Merchants Meeting October 19, 2019: Cayuga Improvement Association Meeting November 4, 2019: Steering Committee Meeting November 5, 2019: Meetings with individual merchants November 13, 2019: Corridor merchant walk November 18, 2019: New Mission Terrace Improvement Association November 26, 2019: Meetings with individual property owners December 5, 2019: Meetings with individual merchants December 14, 2019: Corridor Intercept Survey December 18, 2019: Meetings with individual property owners December 19, 2019: Corridor Intercept Survey December 21, 2019: Corridor Intercept Survey January 4, 2020: Meetings with individual property owners January 11, 2020: District 11 Council Meeting February 3, 2020: Excelsior Action Group Meeting February 4, 2020: Outer Mission Merchants and Residents Association Meeting
  • What is the CBD Formation Process?
    Area property and business owners form a steering committee to think through scope of work a CBD would handle. A management plan and engineer’s report are swritten and ubmitted to OEWD and the City Attorney for review and approval. Petitions and CBD Formation information are sent to property owners. Property owners representing at least 30% of the total assessment amount need to sign the petition. If 30% is reached on petition drive a 218 ballot is sent out to property owners. A CBD needs more returned ballots with yes than no, weighted by the assessment to be paid for each property. A public hearing is held, ballots are tabulated by the CIty and a resolution to establish the district is adopted. Once the resolution is adopted a 501c3 is established to manage funds and daily operations. This non-profit is run by a board of directors made up of property and business owners. Yearly assessments are submitted to the County for collections and passed through to the CBD for onngoing administration and District operations.
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