Board of Supervisors Back Special Downtown Tax

By City News Service

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to support a special tax assessment to keep the downtown Arts District clean and safe.

The group that managed the Arts District business improvement district for the last six years — collecting taxes from property owners to supplement city services such as bike patrols and extra trash pickup — was ordered in May to disband.

Ruling in a lawsuit brought by property owners, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert H. O’Brien found that the former Arts District BID had violated state law by spending tax dollars on what amounted to a public relations campaign for the area. The judge said those economic development efforts didn’t provide a special benefit to those paying the extra taxes.

But after the BID group broke up, the neighborhood suffered, according to a nonprofit organization seeking to start a new special assessment district.

“In the few months without a BID, we have seen an increase in trash left (or) dumped on our streets, automobile break-ins, vandalism, graffiti and a general sense of not feeling secure, “ Dilip Bhavnani, chair of Arts District Los Angeles, wrote in a letter to property owners.

Arts District Los Angeles’ plan for a new BID has been approved by the city clerk’s office. The group has also submitted petitions of support from more than 50 percent of property owners in the area roughly bounded on the north and south by the Hollywood (101) Freeway and Seventh Street, and on the east and west by Alameda Street and the Los Angeles River.

Another nonprofit group — the Arts District Community Council of Los Angeles — has also been trying to drum up support for a BID with slightly different boundaries, a smaller budget and a different method of calculating assessments.

“Both … have the best interests of the community at heart,” said Jonathan Jerald of the Los Angeles River Artists and Business Association, who proclaimed himself “Switzerland” in the competition. “Either would be a big improvement over what we had before.”

ADCCLA has not yet submitted its plan for approval, but the next step for the ADLA plan is review by the City Council, according to a city spokeswoman.

The county, which has a Department of Public Social Services office in the district, would pay a very small percentage of the total assessment — about 1 percent or $11,000 under the $1.1 million ADLA plan.

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November 14, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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