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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].”

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monaghan April 7, 2014 @ 12:40 p.m.

Soon-to-be-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins should be apologizing, not crafting double-talk. We were not born yesterday. "Exploring a concept" does not mean introducing legislation. And since when do "respected members of the community" get such carte blanche? I'll tell you when: when they give money to your campaign war chest.


CaptD April 7, 2014 @ 2:06 p.m.

It is also worthy to note that Toni's Partner is in the (Low/Mod Redevelopment) Business...


dwbat April 7, 2014 @ 8:01 p.m.

Li Mandri won't be too happy, as he was drooling over another cash cow coming his way. There's money to be made setting up assessment districts!


CaptD April 7, 2014 @ 3:38 p.m.

If you are interested in Funding Affordable Housing and Infrastructure, I suggest you attend this meeting:

Funding Affordable Housing and Infrastructure in a Post Redevelopment Era ~ First United Methodist Church of San Diego Sponsored by seven community groups Friday, April 11, 2014 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM (PDT) San Diego, CA

Speakers: Toni Atkins, California State Majority Leader Mike Burnett, Architect and Developer Nico Calavita, Professor of Planning, San Diego State University (Retired) Susan Riggs, Deputy Secretary of Housing Policy at the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency

Moderator: Betsy Morris, Principal of E.M.Advisors, (Former President & CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission)



BlueSouthPark April 7, 2014 @ 8:44 p.m.

Before you get too excited, you may want to look more closely at what Mike Burnett really means by "affordable" housing and "lean urbanism." Start by looking closely at the weirdly monstrous exterior and coldly designed interiors at his building at 811 25th. Next, go look at the monster he is creating at the old North Park Post Office. Foe him, "lean" mainly means super-lean regulations, lean quality of building components, and lean space left over - building up and out to the sidewalk to maximize every penny, no setbacks, no leafy trees or gardens. Just plastic, cement, and steel, with a few "low-mod"-income units thrown in to gain him exemptions and credits. Along with Atkins, he should also stay out of South Park, when it comes to building his monsters.


CaptD April 8, 2014 @ 8:07 a.m.


He builds exactly to the existing codes so that he does not need to "ask" for any permission/review from either the City or the impacted Neighborhood Planning Group, which also saves him money. His projects rate a D as in DENSITY and serve to point out what is terribly wrong with our current building codes, which are now being used to DENSIFY San Diego, despite what all the touchy feely DSD supported meeting spokespersons say about things like step backs and solar shadowing. The above mentioned North Park Project has removed all the sunlight from the buildings to the east of the Post Office building since it is many stories higher than the existing structures that now only have an alley separating them.

All San Diego's older neighborhoods with legacy "too tall" building codes already in place are now at risk, yet our elected Leaders smile when they promote Quality Urbanization because it means ever more donations from all the developers that seek to make many areas of San Diego look like an Inner City linked by transportation corridors (aka linear-ghettos).

p.s. The more people, that attend the above meeting, who believe that quality growth is much better for San Diego than MAX growth the better! I hope that SOHO and many other groups attend so that it is a balanced meeting instead of just another Developer Density Debacle for San Diego like the *six-pack" developments that replaced single family homes with small 6 units buildings and paved front to back parking slots facing the street, which not only removed 2 on street parking spaces from the street but resorted in 4 or more cars added to those that parked their since most tenants only parked one car in front of their building.


HonestGovernment April 8, 2014 @ 11:40 a.m.

Well said. What do you think about the North Parker project across from the Jack-in-theBox?


BlueSouthPark April 8, 2014 @ 4:20 p.m.

CaptD. Yes, Burnett is smug about "building to codes" and thus avoiding community review. We can thank the city for quietly changing Land Use Code and using community plans to sneak in density upgrades. For example, in the Greater Golden Hill Planning Committee meeting in Feb 2014, the City planner Bernie Turgeon requested that the March agenda include action (approval) on the following density upgrades that (someone?) wants Council to approve:

"The upgraded areas include 25th St., which includes a mixed-use option to a maximum of 44 dwelling units per acre (du/ac), including a density bonus, and the City Operations Yard, which would increase from the present maximum of 29 du/ac to 44 du/ac."

Pack'em in, builders.


BlueSouthPark April 7, 2014 @ 8:32 p.m.

"I have always been interested in finding tools"

And you always managed to find them.

We have not forgotten your willful blindness in South Park, and your disrespect and disregard for those of us not affiliated with any power-wielding organization, Toni. As much as I have little sympathy for the hugely organized BID Board empire uniquely existing in San Diego, I'm glad that they could tell you to stop it and you were compelled to obey.

I suspect you and the Republican head of the Committee on Local Gov heard from a few others, too.

Just stay away from our community.

Thanks for the update, Dorian.

And yaaaay!!!!!!!!!!!!! F***ing A!!!!


CaptD April 8, 2014 @ 8:33 a.m.

I salute South Park, for winning their MAD lawsuit which has really helped them dodge most of the DENSITY that is being dumped on North Park.

I also believe that another reason that South Park's development has been "avoided" is that Burlingame's politically connected residents are insistent that their own neighborhood remain protected from any new public development, so in effect, South Park is now serving as their new development buffer zone to the South.


HonestGovernment April 8, 2014 @ 2:24 p.m.

I don't believe Toni Atkins is telling the whole truth. She must have other reasons for abandoning this fifth attempt (first four by Vargas) at finding a legal way to create new assessment districts. After all, in 2011, the North Park Main Street BID very much wanted to turn their BID into a PBID (the failed North Park Overlay MAD). There was little concern about ceding real control to the few property owners that the BID would have had to allow on their management board, in exchange for a big wad of money.

The bill Atkins has pulled created a PBID-MAD blend. You can call it what you like (and Li Mandri DID commercialize the CBD term), but a Community Benefit District is a PBID-MAD blend that has no current State law to authorize it. Atkins was trying to fix that for Li Mandri, the creator of illegal "commercial MADs," which is what San Diego government creatively called them before one was ruled illegal (Li Mandri's creation in Golden Hill). Another Li Mandri creation, the in-limbo illegal Barrio Logan commercial MAD, is called a Community Benefit MAD. The Atkins/Vargas/Li Mandri CBD bill, like a legal PBID, gave financial control to a paid third-party entity (typically business groups), yet allowed residential and commercial property assessments, like a legal MAD, to use for a very broad number of purposes not allowed by MAD laws. Or by PBID law, even though the Downtown PBID spends monies on many disallowed activities. We don't have a City Atty to stop them.

Since Atkins was first elected to council, she's been involved in attempts to pervert the only two State assessment laws: The 1994 PBID law, for assessing property owners and business owners, and the Landscape & Lighting Act (1972)/ Article XIIID of the California Constitution (Proposition 218), for MADs, which assess only property owners.

Some charter cities have created ordinances for allowing CBDs. I suspect that is the next thing for San Diego. Gloria would be the main Council booster. Faulconer is receptive and has people on his transition committee who to plan push him to support CBD ordinances.

Related news (??) is that the Planning, Neighborhood, and Economic Development Dept has revised their 2014-2016 strategy that included converting the City's BIDs to PBIDs. They struck that text entirely. See the doc on the 4/09/2014 agenda for the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Stay tuned.


CaptD April 9, 2014 @ 5:04 p.m.

Great summation, hope you will attend that meeting I posted above!


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