Drop-kick the PBID plan

As much as we like the Downtown Chico Business Association and the folks connected to it, we can’t support its ambitious plan to form an assessment district that would more than double its current budget. Those assessments of property owners would surely be passed onto the downtown business tenants, some of whom would not be able to absorb the increased rents. Has anyone noticed the number of shuttered downtown storefronts lately?

We have to wonder why the DCBA thinks it needs such a drastic increase in funding and where exactly that funding would go. A budget breakdown for the proposed Property and Business Improvement District, or PBID, as it is called, shows 37 percent ($249,000 annually) would go to “economic development.” More precisely, that money would go to “investor marketing,” “destination marketing” and “communication and advocacy.”

Excuse us, but isn’t “economic development” almost a cottage industry here in Chico? We’ve got CEPCO and Tri-County EDC and the PIC and who knows what else. How many acronymic “e-d” agencies does one town need? And those mentioned don’t even include the Chico Chamber of Commerce, which is a self-proclaimed “tool for building businesses” and “marketing machine for Chico.”

Another 18 percent of the PBID’s income would go to “administration,” more than tripling the current DCBA allotment. Apparently they’d have to hire a bookkeeper and staff to take care of all those extra dollars.

The DCBA began as a parking assessment district nearly 30 years ago and by its own creation is limited in how much it can collect. It could dissolve itself and reform with new by-laws that would increase its annual income, but there’s fear that so many members would opt out that the DCBA would die. Is it smart to move forward with such an ambitious plan for an association with such weak allegiance to the cause? We don’t think so.