Disney dreams

Tom Hall owns the Garden Walk Mall; bought it about a year ago. As a property owner he is also a member of the Downtown Chico Business Association, the nearly 30-year-old promoter of downtown vitality. He supports the DCBA, he said, but questions its move to create a new assessment district called a Property Business Improvement District (PBID) to raise more money to further promote the downtown. Hall said he attended the first meeting the DCBA held with downtown property owners, and only three, including himself, showed up. At the meeting he said he expressed his willingness to be on the steering committee, which would determine the services provided by the new district, its budget and its term of operation. He wasn’t picked. DCBA Director Katrina Davis, he said, told him she couldn’t get in touch with him when the committee was formed. Hall is skeptical.

The PBID will become a reality only if those who own more than 50 percent of downtown properties vote in favor of the district. The city of Chico is the largest single downtown property owner but has told the DCBA that it will not vote on the issue. Hall says the assessment will add about $4,500 to his current annual property tax of $14,500. He said property owners would most likely pass that assessment onto downtown tenants, some of whom are operating close to the edge of insolvency as it is. The DCBA wants to form the PBID for a simple reason—more money. Right now the DCBA, which is in reality a parking district, is limited on how much it can raise in assessments—$32,000. It supplements its income with transit occupancy tax money from the city (about $40,000) and revenue generated by special events such as the Thursday Night Market and A Taste of Chico. A PBID would charge varying rates, with the highest being those properties bordered by Broadway and Main between Second and Third streets. Rates there would run 10 cents per square foot for first-floor properties, 5 cents per square foot on the second floor and $6 per linear foot of storefront. Altogether the new assessment would kick in another $422,000 for the DCBA to promote the downtown.

Where will that money go? Hall said part of it will go to building a couple of kiosks, hanging banners and hiring “guides,” who will not only tell downtown visitors where to go but serve “as the eyes and ears of the police” as well. Indeed, a DCBA publication says the PBID will “enforce the quality-of-life ordinances dealing with issues such as aggressive street behaviors and homeless issues.” Sounds like the downtown will turn into Main Street, Disneyland. Maybe the guides can wear Snow White and Goofy costumes and we can enforce a dress code. My choice would be those purple nylon sweat suits that go “swish-swish” when you walk. A guy I know (who owes me $3) asked that I make this plug: Saturday, April 25, Hooker Oak Room 9 will hold a yard sale with proceeds going to a Kenyan wildlife preserve. (Which one hasn’t been determined yet.) The class has been studying Kenya and wants to help preserve the animals there anyway it can. The sale will be held at Taylor Barron’s house, 3132 Eagle Lake Ct. To get there take The Esplanade north to Greenfield, turn left and then left again on Eagle Lake (second house on the left). Do it for the animals in Kenya and the good kids in Room 9. Kenya help by coming out and buying something?

Also this: On Sunday, April 25, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., JB’s bar and restaurant (392 Vallombrosa near the Mangrove intersection) is hosting a fundraiser for Liza Gere, who was seriously injured when a car turned in front of her Harley Davidson Feb. 28. For $20 you’ll get a tri-tip/chicken dinner and entertainment from the bluegrass band Mossy Creek. Gere is a computer geek, friend and downright decent human being who could use a little help here.