Written by The Business Journal Staff
A proposed PBID in Old Town includes properties from 10th Street north of Sierra Avenue and from Woodworth Avenue east to Clovis Avenue. A second proposed PBID would include properties along Shaw Avenue between Highway 168 and Clovis Avenue.
Shawn Miller, the city’s business development manager, said the proposed PBIDs would assess each property according to its size. Funds generated would be used toward improvements in that district, for services property and business owners agree are most beneficial. These improvements could include enhanced streetscape and landscaping beyond what the city currently provides, increased security and marketing.
Each proposed PBID seeks to raise $250,000 annually.
“The PBID acts like a homeowner’s association in that each property is assessed for a certain amount and the property owners get to decide what that is used for,” Miller said. “The city has no involvement other than sorting assessments from the property tax.
“City staff can help as little or as much as the owners want. What the city can do right now is go in and plant shrubs in the median along Shaw Avenue, but the corridor property owners desire something more. If they decide to start this PBID, we have funds to kick-start Shaw Avenue with some enhanced landscaping and priming going forward. Moving beyond the median, we can’t do things on private property, but we can help property owners come up with a design and plan.”
While these would be the first PBIDs in Clovis, Miller said a Parking and Business Improvement Area (PBIA) assessment district has been in place in part of Old Town since 1975. The PBIA assesses property owners from 2nd to 7th Avenue and from Veterans Parkways to Woodworth. Business owners within the PBIA pay double the business-licensing fee in order to gather funds specifically for parking and regular maintenance.
The PBID discussion, Miller said, first came up when Old Town property owners south of 7th Street expressed interest in joining the PBIA. Due to regulations put in place when the PBIA was established, additional properties cannot be added to the PBIA. To include all commercial properties in Old Town, city staff suggested property owners consider a PBID.
A PBID for Shaw Avenue was proposed as well because of the property and business owners’ desire to improve the area to attract shoppers once again.
PBIDs are common in many California cities, including Fresno and Visalia.
Miller said the Clovis PBIDs would be similar to the one in downtown Visalia.
“Visalia has a similar situation to what we’re trying for in Old Town,” Miller said. “Visalia’s downtown is long and linear like Old Town and even Shaw Avenue, so it’s a good example.”
Fresno’s PBID was also inspired in part by the success of the PBID in downtown Visalia.
Downtown Fresno’s PBID was established in 2010 and covers the Fulton Mall area as well as parts of the mural district and civic center square.
Craig Scharton — former interim CEO of the Fresno Downtown Partnership, the board that oversees the downtown Fresno’s PBID — said the area has seen a wave of change since establishing the district.
While increased funding for improvements — a jump from $35,000 to $600,000 annually — certainly helped, Scharton said the biggest impact the PBID has had is in bringing property owners together for common causes, like bringing back Fulton Street.
“In the past you could say all the property owners wanted Fulton to be changed, but they didn’t have a way to work together on it,” Scharton said. “Now that they can work together on it, they can hire staff to do the day-to-day leg work. That is when you see, rather than the Patterson building competing with the Pacific Southwest building for a tenant, they can both agree that their buildings would be worth more if Fulton street came back, so now they are working on a common issue that helps them both. It creates a community where there wasn’t one before.”
So far, the downtown Fresno PBID has helped property owners unite and lobby for Fulton Street, which is now under construction. The creation of the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan and a new downtown form-based code have also occurred since the PBID was established. And just last week, the city agreed to an hour of free parking in downtown garages — something downtown retailers have desired for some time. By using some of the $600,000 to hire security, vandalism and vagrancy downtown have also decreased.
In working together toward these goals, Scharton said, property owners can make their downtowns and older areas more competitive.
“If you have a shopping mall, you have an association that does all of these things and having a PBID allows downtowns to be more competitive and pull their resources,” he said.
The process of establishing the Fresno PBID took a year, Scharton said, and if the Clovis property owners decide to move forward with the Old Town and/or Shaw Avenue PBID process, they can expect a similar time frame.
Miller said Clovis city staff and community members are just now reaching out to property owners to let them know about the PBID option and a service plan is in development.
“Right now, we’re determining the services needed or desired and we’re holding informational meetings to make sure everyone is well informed and has their questions answered,” Miller said. “The next step is a petition and after that, property owners will vote on it.”
In order to get on the tax roll this year, Miller said the PBIDs would need to be approved by July 1. It’s likely that one or both PBIDs will not come to fruition until 2018, he said.
“We don’t want to rush,” Miller said. “We want to make sure all the property owners and business owners are aware of it. It might not be for them, but we want to make sure they know about the opportunity.”