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Barrio Logan will be the new Little Italy, at least that's what some developers and others in the building industry hope will happen once new housing and retail centers are erected. To further enhance the area, some developers residents and business owners, want to create Community Benefit Districts.

District 8 representative David Alvarez is one of those people who support bringing assessment districts to Barrio Logan. Alvarez and his staff have pitched the idea to business owners and residents. He believes that aside from removing graffiti and litter and cleaning sidewalks they will help "galvanize the community around a common purpose."

"We want to be able to provide services that the City doesn't provide," said Alvarez during a recent phone interview. "I see it as a good opportunity so from the beginning I've been talking to business owners and residents about the idea of a Community Benefit District."

"The history of Barrio Logan is there but outside Chicano Park and its murals the story isn't told. So as the community gets larger and businesses move in, it would be great to bring that culture and help tell the story of Barrio Logan."

Alvarez dismissed claims that only a select group of residents and business owners received the recent survey looking into bringing an assessment district to Barrio Logan. He says the survey was sent to all residents in the area surrounding the Mercado del Barrio project.

"We actually approached Shea Properties and asked them to participate. And, now we're moving forward with it. The process is very open and we don't want any favoritism for any one group, which is why we surveyed everybody. Everyone was notified. We even started a steering committee to see what services residents want.

The results of the survey are being tallied. Alvarez hopes to initiate the balloting process and engineer's report in the coming months. Initial funding will come from a city council account and will be reimbursed once assessments are collected.

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Comments

nostalgic Jan. 27, 2012 @ 10:45 a.m.

I hear that the unemployed SEDC Execs found guilty need jobs to make their payments to the city. This is perfect for them.

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Brian_T_Peterson_DVM Jan. 27, 2012 @ 11:28 a.m.

If the Barrio Logan “Community-Benefit District” is run anything like a Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) or Business Improvement District (BID), watch out. And the fact that this article mentions an “engineers report” suggests this is another MAD.

MADs and BIDs utilize a backward form of democracy wherein the landed gentry, who own the largest parcels or the most properties, get the most votes. The purpose of the engineer is to gerrymander the district in such a way as to maximize the votes in favor of the MAD, i.e. maximize the voters with the most votes to their names in order to rig the vote in favor of the MAD. This is “tyranny of the majority” at its worst, or maybe it’s just tyranny.

The end result is the small land owner, who may want nothing to do with the MAD, is forced to pay an additional tax for a benefit they may not want. If this thing goes forward in Barrio Logan, at least run it as a one man, one vote election. Give the smaller property owners a fair shot and an equal say.

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nostalgic Jan. 27, 2012 @ 5:12 p.m.

A recent article about these MADs, BIDs, etc. in New York called them a "way for politicians to pay off community supporters." This isn't like David Alvarez; but I fear the end result will be the same.

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BlueSouthPark Jan. 28, 2012 @ 10:22 a.m.

Last month, a local resident and property owner heard about the survey and contacted David Alvarez' office, asking for information about it (such as who had been surveyed, who were the people on the steering group). Some people long involved in the community in the area right around the new Mercado development knew NOTHING about the survey and DID NOT get one. Why?

An Alvarez staffer responded vaguely, provided no answers, and said this was the business of a private company, suggesting that Alvarez knew nothing about it. So now he DOES admit knowing?

Why the secrecy and the refusal to respond honestly?

The use of the term "community benefit district" is warm and fuzzy, avoiding the reality that a forced assessment tax is imposed on the property tax bill. Property owners and all community business owners have a right to know everything about such a plan, from the very beginning.

The private company, New City America, paid to conduct the survey is owned by a familiar bad guy and City sycophant in San Diego, Marco Li Mandri. Shea Properties may have paid the usual $20,000-30,000 fee Li Mandri charges to quietly get assessment districts underway on behalf of the City Economic Development department (which takes a cut of the assessments for the onerous duty of barely overseeing the private business group they put in control of the taxes collected), but keep in mind that Shea is now the landlord of the Mercado's 6.8 acres that the City "conveyed" to them for $100. Shea will be a huge part of the weighted vote, along with the City, which owns much land in the area. Add in the nearby properties owned by Mitchell Investments and other investment groups that want to control and gentrify Barrio Logan's future, and any kind of MAD, PBID, or BID is a done deal.

Alvarez, you disappoint. It didn't take long to co-opt you, did it? All you had to do was publicize this, loud and clear, at the time you first got involved. You have failed the test.

MADs, BIDs, and PBIDs controlled by private business groups are primarily about empowerment of the private group. It leads to the most wasteful use of taxpayer monies imaginable.

And why would anyone believe that a Barrio Logan assessment district is necessary after reading the glowing economic and fiscal analysis of the Mercado development?

You decide if the City shouldn't have enough new net revenue from the Mercado to keep the sidewalks clean: http://taxpayersadvocate.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=1

"In its first full year of operations after lease up, the proposal will generate an annual NET fiscal benefit to the City and Agency in excess of $900,000 (est. $909,114)."

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InOmbra Jan. 28, 2012 @ 12:19 p.m.

Such a small, incestuous world swirling around the Barrio: Former Shea community development manager Russ Haley, now exec VP at City Mark, sits on the Little Italy Assoc board. Bet he knew about the survey.

Property owners on Main, National, and Newton are the gentrification "smart growth coalition" development cabal at Mitchell Investments and R&H Properties. One, Glenna Schmidt, sits on the Downtown San Diego Partnership and East Village BID boards. Bet she new about the survey.

I bet if any of these big players contacted Alvarez and asked for details about the survey, Alvarez would have answered them with information.

Looking forward to Alvarez making public all the details: how many surveys, to whom, and responses. And make them available for public inspection.

It's hard to forget that FBI report on the North Bay Assoc (Li Mandri, Exec Director): one of the fraudulent actions was falsification of survey responses, with intent to procure public money.

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oldcitizen Jan. 28, 2012 @ 1:04 p.m.

Be careful what you wish for. Two and a half years ago it was discovered the the downtown PBID overcharged several thousand taxpayers thousands of dollars. The taxpayers still have not been told when their money will be refunded. The PBID was still able to hire Marco LiMandri as a consultant and pay him $10.000 per month.

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nostalgic Jan. 28, 2012 @ 3:53 p.m.

In these MADs, BIDs, and PBIDs, money comes from all the taxpayers and goes to a few people. A few things get done in the process. Could you have swept the sidewalk yourself for $1000 a year? For $100 a year? Not up to you any more in any case. The "community" decides.

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