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The required one-and-a-half year cooling off period has expired and North Park Main Street is back with a new proposal to bring a Property-based Improvement District (PBID) to North Park.

In July 2011, a proposal to expand the current assessment district failed to get the necessary votes. Many residents objected to the super-sized district and, more importantly, two businesses, the Vons Grocery Store and Albertsons, voted against tacking on additional taxes to their annual property bills.

But Angela Landsberg, executive director of North Park Main Street, the nonprofit that manages North Park’s business improvement district, is back at it, this time hoping to learn from the non-profit's failed attempt.

"North Park has so much potential," Landsberg said in a September 17 phone interview. "If I had the ability to fix sidewalk, scrape gum off the sidewalks, place more trash cans and plant more trees, I would and North Park would be an even better community. Unfortunately, with such a small budget for North Park Main Street, we are unable to do those things without some help."

Landsberg has already spent months trying to find consultants to draft district boundaries and tally potential assessments. That can't be done, however, without funding.

In March, Landsberg began reaching out to Council President, now Interim-Mayor Todd Gloria, for help.

One month later, according to emails obtained through a public records request, Gloria's staffer Anthony Bernal began looking for funds.

"Regarding the formation of the Community Benefit District, what our office needs is a written formal proposal," Bernal wrote to Landsberg in an April 22 email. "If you can get me this information in the next week I will see if we can include it in the budget discussion."

The proposal didn't make it into the budget and Landsberg has returned to the drawing board.

"My personal preference is that it focuses on commercial and not residential. But we will have to wait and see what is best."

Some residents are still skeptical, especially those who were not keen on having to pay a few hundred dollars more each year to help pay for improvements which would mainly be directed at commercial corridors and neatly maintained streetscapes.

"There has been talk ever since the last one failed that North Park Main Street would rework the details and appeal factor to guile the residents into voting for it," wrote North Park property owner Rick Pyles. "They're going to have to find a way to convince the big businesses, like Von's of the benefits, because it was they who defeated the last one, with their heavier weight of votes. If they're on board, the residents are sunk."

As Landsberg continues to work out the kinks and search for support from property owners, there is another factor at play; that being the legality of Property-based Improvement Districts and other assessment districts.

Hearings in a court case challenging similar districts has already begun. The suit was filed earlier this year by San Diegans for Open Government.

"This lawsuit challenges Defendants' authorization of a variety of "tax" levies and collections euphemistically labeled "assessments" by Defendants in order to avoid public scrutiny without first obtaining the requisite approval of the voters of the City of San Diego," reads the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the City will undoubtedly have their hands full, especially considering they have already lost one case over an illegally formed assessment district in Golden Hill.

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Comments

SanCarlosGuy Sept. 17, 2013 @ 8:56 p.m.

It's going to be a tough sell to a skeptical public, especially after the Golden Hill special assessment mess. North Park Main Street might do better playing up and giving lots of kudos to businesses and residents that DO take care of their property to inspire others to do the same. Any type of election to increase taxes seen mostly to benefit only a few blocks around the NP business core will probably be defeated.

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Founder Sept. 18, 2013 @ 5:22 p.m.

If there is money to be spent In North Park, then lets start acquiring land ASAP to build future parking structures, ideally designed so that their top floor can also be used as URBAN parks!

This concept would provide solutions to 3 BIG NP Problems:

  1. More Business parking, IN THE BUSINESS DISTRICT.

  2. Less Parking Blight due to Business parking on local streets.

  3. A reduction in the 150+ acre deficit of NP's Park/Open Space!

I'm so tired of the Business District pushing all of its DENSITY blight into the nearby residential district, while at the same time saying that they are being good neighbors!

What percentage of NP business's validate at the NP garage for both employee's and patrons...?

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HonestGovernment Sept. 18, 2013 @ 6:31 p.m.

Dear Angela Landsberg, If you know a NP business area property owner who wants a trash can in front of their property, or wants a repaired or replaced sidewalk, just tell them to buy it, do it, and take care of it as part of their overhead. Why should anyone else cover their costs? Residential owners do this on their own. It doesn't cost much for any property owner or business owner to take care of their own property or storefront. And I am not going to do it for them. I take care of my trash and sidewalk, businesses can take care of theirs. Oh, and FYI: it is not legal (see the State laws, please) to use PBID or MAD assessments to replace and repair sidewalks. Of course, you didn't know that, did you? and TGlo's office didn't remind you of that, did they? Propaganda is cheap, Angela. But it doesn't fly in the courthouse.

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Founder Sept. 19, 2013 @ 1:40 p.m.

HonestGovernment I'd love to get the Statute that prevents the repair/replacement of the sidewalks, since the NP-MAD spends huge amounts of money on the Business District sidewalks every year along with replacing the expensive decretive tiles that were designed to be installed on the expansion joints!

The reason that the MAD does not want to re-ballot the entire MAD is that the Business District gets way more money than they put into the MAD for work in the Business District!

Also the vote depends on the majority of those votes submitted not on all the property owners that would have to pay the new tax; which is bad especially for all the absentee landlords that never respond to the mailing!

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HonestGovernment Sept. 19, 2013 @ 4:23 p.m.

Founder, The GH owners had to sue to stop the legal violations. It's the only way to stop the City from getting away with law-breaking. I thought that the outcome of the GH MAD decision would stop the City from violating the assessment laws. I was wrong. Even Park & Rec, which manages your MAD, caved in to the greedy demands by NP Main Street BID members to use the MAD funds illegally. The NP MAD isn't my concern, but if you ever think that our city government learns lessons about violating laws, think again. I was following and reading about the NP MAD via their published minutes from June 2011 thru March 2012. Andy Fields and Beethoven Burks from Park & Rec, and Anthony Bernal, all sat in and encouraged/approved the idea, in meeting after meeting, that the NP Main Street BID proposed for using your MAD funds to pay for six $1200 decorative (and unnecessary) trashcans. And other illegitimate stuff. One existing City concrete trashcan even had to be moved, to accommodate the MAD-installed decorator version. I took photos of the whole undertaking.

Andy Field told them not to worry, that the GH MAD decision wouldn't affect the NP MAD or any other MADs. And it won't, until someone sues their ass.

I have to admit, I was amazed at the brazen disregard for State law.

NP Main Street publicly bragged about usurping the NP MAD, and this was when they were sure they were going to get the overlay MAD and control all of that money.

Bottom line, about assessment law: they are called "maintenance" assessments, because that's all they can do, and ONLY to capital projects or other specific undertakings that the MAD voters specifically voted on. That is, if entire stretches of sidewalk need replacing, and property owners adjacent to and bordering that stretch want to pay for it to specially benefit their property, then there must be a cost analysis, published in an Engineer's Report, and a specific ballot for, e.g., a "Sidewalk Replacement MAD," and when the assessments (ONLY on the people who own property along the sidewalk) repay the loan or bond or whatever was used to finance the project, that MAD is over, except for recalculated assessments that may be voted on for maintenance of that sidewalk.

I see currently that there is something being discussed called NP Main Street Sidewalk Project, concerning more than $200,000 of new red sidewalk on University. I can't tell if the plan is to have all of the NP MAD payers pick up the tab for NP Main Street's project. You'd probably know. It makes me sick, and I'm glad not to be involved. We live in a corrupt city, through and through, and I'm ashamed of Park & Rec for getting involved.

Sue them if you want it to stop. Landsberg's latest attempt is going nowhere, because of the SDOG lawsuit, even though TGlo pretends he is trying to help. But as soon as that suit is settled, won, or lost, it'll be back to business of the City breaking the law any way the business groups want.

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Founder Sept. 22, 2013 @ 9:29 a.m.

This is why the neighborhoods with less affluent people are being DENSIFIED, they have less ability to sue the City in order to hold their feet to the fire, when it come to regulations.

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HonestGovernment Sept. 22, 2013 @ 5:44 p.m.

You got it. Just look at the locations of the "former" (irony = quote marks = Civic San Diego) redev neighborhoods. Barrio L, City Hts, parts of NP, southeastern SD, etc. Same locations that have the abusive and illegitimate assessments on property owners. In fact, the Assessment Grandmaster, the ruler of Little Italy and man behind the curtain in the creepy-named New City America, Marco Li Mandri, frequently sat in on the North Park PAC redev meetings, often bragging about the influence he had in the City Council, and advising spending MAD money on sidewalks and other illegitimate items that have nothing to do with what the people voted on in the original NP MAD Engineer's Report.

The former Exec Director of the Downtown PBID refused to agree to budget PBID assessments to pay for public porta-potties, making clear that he knew was legal/not legal for PBID expenditures. He's gone and the looting is on, full bore.

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Yankeedoodle Sept. 22, 2013 @ 10:02 p.m.

Honest: The city told us that the sidewalk was our responsibility as the homeowner to take care of but we didn't own it. Whatever.

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HonestGovernment Sept. 23, 2013 @ 8:40 a.m.

Yankee: That's correct. Actually, the State cedes regulatory control of sidewalks, which are part of the public roadway and curb, to municipalities, but State law actually governs sidewalks Through municipal codes, owners of property abutting these public rights-of-way have some responsibility for the sidewalk. The main responsibility is to do no damage: do not plant trees near or drive heavy vehicles over, to avoid causing break up of concrete; do not remove, deface, or alter in any way that causes public harm or danger. If through ordinary aging or nature not caused by the property owner the sidewalk is damaged, the municipality has responsibility for maintenance as they see fit. If you simply want a more beautiful or a unique sidewalk, the expense for improved aesthetics is yours, with permission and contractual agreement and supervision of the city. You can only be charged for repair or replacement of what belongs to the entire world's public, not to you, if it can be proved you ruined it or made it hazardous. Our General Fund, along with State Streets and Highways, Transportation, and Gas Tax funds, pay for repair or replacement. Only if groups of adjacent property owners agree to form an assessment district specifically to build or repair the walks abutting their properties can a pool of people be charged for any work on a stretch of existing sidewalk.

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HonestGovernment Feb. 23, 2014 @ 3:30 p.m.

Dorian, In the Nov 2013 NPPC minutes it is stated [Section XV, item (c)] that $5000 for the PBID has been obtained from Segal, the developer of the huge Northparker project across from Jack-in-Box. Of course, to the delight of NPMS, Segal would carry a large weight in favor of a PBID in a vote of property holders. This is what NPMS has been yearning for.

http://northparkplanning.org/pdfs/pc/2013/MinutesNPPC20131119_Draft.pdf

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HonestGovernment Feb. 23, 2014 @ 3:48 p.m.

Also, another tidbit from the NP MAD minutes, Jan 2014:

http://npmaddotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2014-01-13-mad-minutes-with-attachments.pdf

"Update on NPMS PBID efforts... that a feasibility study is being done by Civitas (Sacramento). It will cover trash, cleaning, median and small capital improvements in the "commercial area", above and beyond what is done by the NPMAD. This PBID effort has received no funding from the NPMAD. [Because it wouldn't be legal!!] The "commercial area" [note quote marks] has not yet been clearly defined. A preliminary map will be prepared by the steering committee for discussion with the Assessment Engineer and should be finalized by March. It will include between 300 and 500 parcels. No assessment process has been determined yet. If the petition is successful, the PBID will go to ballot in July 2014."

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