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Concerned about an increase in business fees and lack of improvements in the downtown neighborhood surrounding his business, Barry Baker appeared before the Escondido City Council on Wednesday, September 22, to voice his displeasure.

Baker is the owner of J. Ray Baker and Co., a property-management company that has operated in Escondido for 50 years. Upon recently reviewing his business license for renewal, Baker explained that he noticed a Business Improvement District fee increase from $150 to $400.

“For my little real estate company, even paying $150 doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Baker. Located on East Grand Avenue — east of Juniper Street — Baker describes his area as unsightly because it has a vacant lot littered with an array of tall and short trees. He calls it the “black sheep” section of downtown; whereas, claims Baker, the area west of Juniper has nice lights, sidewalk improvements, Chinese elm, shade, and ambiance.

“If I’m going to pay a higher fee for the supposed Business Improvement District,” said Baker, “I would like to have an improved area, too.” He suggested that the council dissolve the improvement district and let the chamber of commerce assume the responsibilities of the Downtown Business Association, which is in charge of the BID.

Baker argued that a lack of a centralized group to represent businesses in Escondido is hurting businesses in Escondido. “We’re taking small-business dollars away when times are tough.”

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