WeHo May Abandon Effort to Create a Boystown Business District

Map of proposed Santa Monica Boulevard Business Improvement District
Map of proposed Santa Monica Boulevard Business Improvement District

West Hollywood’s Economic Development Department is recommending the city abandon its efforts to organize a business improvement district on the south end of Santa Monica Boulevard.

In a report to the City Council, the department noted that the effort to establish a BID is now in its seventh year, and that typically such projects are completed in one to two years.

A business improvement district is a distinct area within which businesses are assessed a fee by the city, with the revenue from that fee being used to fund projects within the district such as street improvements, special events and marketing campaigns. BIDs are governed by boards of directors representing the local businesses who decide how the money raised by the assessment will be spent.

The city has spent $65,000 in an effort to organize the Santa Monica BID over the past eight years. It engaged Civitas, a Sacramento consulting firm, and for a brief period the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to convince local businesses to support the BID.

Under state law, a BID can only be established if businesses whose combined assessments equal at least 51 percent of the proposed BID budget sign on. Civitas hasn’t been able to get the percentage past 43.39 percent. It had proposed an annual budget for the BID of $380,000.

The city has two other BIDs: The Sunset Strip BID and the Design District BID, which covers businesses along parts of Melrose Avenue and Robertson and Beverly boulevards. The Sunset Strip BID markets businesses there with a variety of events such as the Sunset Strip Music Festival and the Craft Beer Market. The Design District BID markets its businesses with the annual DIEM design conference and block parties within the district.

The Economic Development Department recommends that the city help the group of local businesses leaders who have promoted the BID as they explore other options. It also suggested that the city renew its support for the BID process if there is any significant increase in support for it.

The proposed BID would have extended from near the intersection of Holloway Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard on the east to Doheny Drive and Santa Monica on the west. The proposed annual fees assessed to support the BID depend on the type of business. For example, a bank with less than $50 million in deposits would have been assessed $1,000, the same fee as a pharmacy with between $25 million and $40 million in sales.

The largest assessments would have been levied against nightclubs, bars and restaurants. A nightclub allowed to have 600 or more customer would have been assessed $12,000, a restaurant capable of serving 275 to 499 customers at a time with a full liquor license would have been assessed $9,000.

The area that the Santa Monica BID would have covered is popularly known as “Boystown” for the large number of nightclubs, bars, restaurants and shops that cater to gay customers. The effort to get support for a BID has been complicated, according to some local merchants, because of the intense competition among local bar owners there.

Also, the city already spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote gay-oriented events in the area, reducing the need for businesses to spend their own money to promote themselves as do those on Sunset Boulevard and in the Design District. Those events include the annual Go Go Boy Appreciation Day, and the LA Pride Parade and Festival, which costs the city approximately $900,000 a year. The city spent $80,000 to paint the crosswalks at the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards in the rainbow colors that are an emblem of gay liberation.

Councilmembers John D’Amico and John Duran also have gotten the city to underwrite events such as the Mayan Day of the Dead Festival and a Mardi Gras festival, both with poor turnouts, that were staged on Larrabee Street north of Santa Monica, an area surrounded by gay bars that had hoped to benefit from the increased traffic.

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erik
erik
6 years ago

BID is BAD! I have property in Hollywood one block off Hollywood and Highland. (I live in boystown, Weho) The Security Hollywood BID uses, who drive around in little white suvs running red lights, speeding through crosswalks and verbally and physically abusing the homeless and terrorizing the tourist are insane,. They are like a secret police force with no rules of conduct. Weho doesn’t need another whacko Police force, we already have that. We need a new Sheriff and Station Captain to clean up the Weho Station. It seems the bars have their own Security. While it is overkill, the… Read more »

Larry Block
6 years ago

@ Jonathan.. thanks for the comments..and the dialog. Your points are well taken and most of what you say can’t be disputed. But my take on the city’s $65k investment might be different. For one thing..once this BID is off the ground the benefits of parking revenue, ticket revenue, tow revenue, business license revenue, business tax revenue, and sales tax revenue continue in perpetuity. It’s an investment in the neighborhood. And honesty.. the city has been successful with the Sunset or Design District BIDS that they are just re-investing the profits. If we can re-invest those profits in neighborhoods such… Read more »

Larry Block
6 years ago

Hello again.. A BID is a business improvement district. The city would have the right to assess mandatory fees on all businesses within the district. Those fees are then used in manners that are needed and voted on by the board of the BID. The things that we see as most important and on the top of the list is security, as well as the ability to speak as one voice to get things done and improve upon the problems mentioned as well as joint marketing. The reason the BID has a problem forming is that the fees are levied,,… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Its funny that we spend so much to have people stomp, march and drive over our pride.
There is nothing more amazing then arriving to the castro for the first time and seeing the grand flag in the SF winds. Think of all the money spent over ten years of the sidewalks life or some unfortunate that stops to take a picture and gets run over by someone late for a hair appointment or worse by someone texting and driving. Oh and then sue the city because the colors distracted them !!! Not bitter ( I think )

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
6 years ago

The fact our city not only wasted $80k on paint for a rainbow sidewalk only helicopters can really see…they again wasted $65k on this proposal to try to get business to pay more to promote themselves? I think they all see through this City Council’s BS attempt to fill their wallets more. If this isn’t an indication that our city, business and residents DO NOT LIKE how this city is run anymore…I don’t know what is. That money isn’t going to promote anything. The streets are already “beautified”. Each bar can do its own promotion. I honestly feel the city… Read more »

Larry Block
6 years ago

Jonathan, w respect, your off the beaten path. The money for the business improvement district allows us to set up our own security so that we do not have to rely on the sheriff. It allows us to have unity to tackle the problems you mentioned as a whole and not leave it to the city or the sheriff,.. unless you think we should close all the bars down there is little that can be done about the noise and the drunks of individuals who should take personal responsibility.. and I too live on Huntley and hear the noise of… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Hi Larry First congrats on putting you name in the bowl for the run to council. Second thank you for all your efforts to better the city and your comments here in the past. Third I have a free flag pole if you would like cant really use it in my apartment. Serious As long as it does not count as a political contribution. I don’t want to ask or get a discount in your store and have people think you are playing fave’s Your stores needs as far as a BID and the needs of the bar owners are… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years ago

The city needs to stop spending to put money in the pockets of the local bar, nightclub, and restaurant owners and instead spend it to steam clean the barf ,urine, and crack pipes left in our streets weekly. Not to mention the stray club kid that spends the night in the bushes, street or garages because he is so wasted from the money he spent in these establishments. Dont let the businesses cry poor. In their own words their taking cash from the night to buy their new fleets of cars, clothes, and “supplies”. It is sad that on a… Read more »