By Ted AYALA
Without redevelopment monies to help vitalize districts, the city is turning to creative options that allow business and communities to prosper, without hurting the city budget.
Downtown Glendale, one of the city’s most powerful revenue generators, received a boost in this way from Glendale City Council in March. Ushered in were “benefit districts,” which would be community and business improvement districts. These would be able to be created anywhere in the city provided they are expressly requested by property owners. Modeled along similar improvement districts, such as the Montrose Shopping Park, the new benefit districts differ in that they would allow mixed-use residential and commercial property owners to join.
The benefit district ordinance would incur no cost for the city. Only the implementation of a legal structure allowing the districts to be founded and operated would be the extent of the city’s involvement.
On Tuesday night, city council oversaw the culmination of the counting of ballots deciding whether to approve the district. According to the city, 180 properties were eligible to vote for the project.
“Property owners will now be free to submit their ballots,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “The ballots will then be tallied in the city manager’s conference room that will be open to the public.”
Councilmembers Rafi Manoukian and Ara Najarian excused themselves from discussion on the ordinance as they feared conflicts of interest.
“Tonight is the final step in that process [to create a downtown benefit district],” said Hassan Haghani, the city’s director of Community Development.
According to Mark Li Mandri, who represents New City America, an organization dedicated to promoting business districts, the new Downtown Glendale benefit district would consist of 23 city blocks and amass over $980,000 per year in improvement funds from member businesses and property owners.
“What’s unique about this district is that there is tremendous momentum to do this,” he said as he stood on the Council dais. “This really allows business and property owners to compete as we rise out of the recession. It‘s about giving [them] the tools they need to thrive.”
“It’s money well spent,” said Councilmember Laura Friedman in respect to the district. “That’s my hope.”