Downtown Fresno image via wikipedia user JMora24
Written by Breanna Hardy
The Downtown Fresno Partnership is seeking renewal of its Property and Business Improvement District, but getting Fresno County on board remains a struggle.
The Downtown Fresno Property and Business Improvement District was first established in 2010 when the City of Fresno adopted a resolution of intent to form the Property and Business Improvement District. Its goal was to provide economic enhancements, clean and safe initiatives and transportation improvements benefiting businesses in the area. It would be funded through assessments of property owners in the district.
Because of the large footprint of buildings owned by the County of Fresno, their support would get the Partnership the signatures needed to renew, but the Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday to leave their voices out of it, remaining neutral. Historically the board has taken a neutral position with the Partnership. In the past, other property owners provided enough favorable ballots supporting renewal of the PBID. Still, the board praised Cerracchio’s efforts and presentation for the renewal.
This makes the third chance that support turned neutral.
The vote for renewal still has the opportunity to advance organically through property owners’ signatures of petition.
If the Board of Supervisors had signed the petition, it would push the improvement district toward 50% approval on the petition.
Jimmy Cerracchio, president and CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, said the PBID term length is longer this time around. Past renewals have spanned seven-year terms. If renewed, it will have a term of ten years, extending from January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2032.
Cerracchio said the term is expanded because the money spent to renew the program costs up to $75,000 to $80,000, saving costs in the long run.
Cerracchio expressed to the board that the Downtown Fresno Partnership plays a big role in keeping Downtown Fresno alive and clean. The improvement district presented its efforts to mitigate trash, graffiti, vandalism and property crime. The district is highlighting its economic development support, including marketing, grants and assistance navigating city processes.
“We were the ones helping prevent these buildings from being broken into,” he said.
It prevents homelessness encampments, communicates regularly with the police, and attracts new businesses. With Covid restrictions fading into the background, the events are coming back too.
“We’re kind of the catalyst to make sure those things keep happening,” Cerracchio said.
But the board of supervisors said that contributing over $50,000 in assessments would be too significant an amount of money per year. Supervisor Brian Pacheco said the county already pays money to service Downtown Fresno, and the money would be a duplicate source for tax.
“For me this is paying double for something we’ve already done,” Pacheco said. “I just can’t in good conscience give another $50,000 for something that we’ve already been doing.”
Cerracchio said the city has a baseline of services but the downtown partnership goes above and beyond.
“Strong downtown is going to make for a stronger Fresno County,” he said.
Supervisor Nathan Magsig opted for neutrality in order to hold the county’s “weighty” voice from the matter. He said the county should remain neutral so property owners in Downtown Fresno would be the driving force.
The county is the single largest property owner, accounting buildings by square footage, the jail being the largest.
Renewal of the improvement district requires submitting petitions from property owners representing more than 50% of the assessed properties. The Downtown Fresno Association serves as the Owners’ Association for the Improvement District and is responsible for managing funds in accordance with the plan, submitting an annual report to the City of Fresno.