Assemblymember Toni Atkins will not move ahead with legislation that would make it easier for large property owners to form assessment districts in San Diego County.
As first reported by the Reader, Atkins introduced the bill back in February. If adopted, the districts would get a new name; "Community Benefit Districts." More importantly, the number of property owners wanting to establish an assessment district would drop from 50 percent to 30 percent. The life of the district would double from 10 years to 20 years. The idea was not new. Former assemblyman-turned-congressman Juan Vargas introduced an identical bill in 2002, 2005, and then once more in 2012.
The legislation was created with help from Marco Li Mandri, a San Diego businessman who specializes in assessment districts. Li Mandri believes the Community Benefit Districts would help fill the void left by the death of redevelopment agencies.
"The intent of AB 2412 [was] to create a standard, uniformed new special improvement district for San Diego County for the County unincorporated areas, general laws or Charter cities alike. It [would have been] used as a test area to the rest of the state so it can be demonstrated that the [Community Benefit District] legislation is the next step in community improvement. The term 'Community Benefit District' is not something I created...the name seems more appropriate for what is occurring in terms of urban development in California special benefit needs."
But, much like the preceding bills, the proposal from Atkins wasn't received with open arms. Consultants to administrators of business improvement districts throughout the state came forward to oppose the bill, saying it gave too much power to a small group of property and business owners. Atkins reacted with a minor tweak; the law would only apply to San Diego County.
Despite the smaller scope, wide-ranging opposition caused Atkins to retreat and pull the bill from the committee floor.
“I have always been interested in finding tools for community and economic development, both in the State Assembly and when I was on the City Council," read an April 4 statement from Atkins. "The idea for the Community Benefits District legislation came to me from a respected member of the community and I agreed to explore the concept. I introduced [assembly bill] 2412 as a way to continue to work on the idea without running afoul of the bill introduction deadline of February 21st; however, I decided to drop the idea when I got negative feedback from San Diego [Business Improvement District].”