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Thread: Business Improvement Districts and those who hate them

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Business Improvement Districts and those who hate them

    You know, we've all been having fun bashing poor old Jaws "I read a book by Ayn Rand" Canuckistani. However if you take away the penchant for absolutes (democracy always sucks...all politicians are incompetent demagogues...etc.) he has been trying to make a point that has some merits.

    But I don't offer you opinion. I offer you a press cutting. Many parts of NYC have been turned around by BIDs (not least, Bryant Park). Further, I think one can argue that the example of what a little effort could do helped the greater polity realize that turnaround was possible and indeed not even that difficult. If you read the article to which I link, what I find striking is the amount of space dedicated to the CONs of BIDs and the nature of the criticism.

    I don't think you have to be a libertarian to detest the saccharine and, yes, demagogic bullshit that some opponents peddle when all that is being discussed (in BIDs) in the need for local owners to take some ownership of their environs through self-taxation and some common sense.

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/article...061019/20/2005

    The main criticisms of BIDs, according to this article are:

    1. They are undemocratic
    2. Unfair to workers (read: they do not employ horrendously overpaid, lazy, unionized city employees)
    3. too much debt, too little City hall oversight
    4. Unclear Support

    It goes on to say that the City Finance Committee (which perhaps is not exactly non-partisan) in a 1995 study found that "while "overall, BIDs have had a positive impact on many New York neighborhoods, BIDs nevertheless require additional oversight and in some cases serious operational restructuring." Two years later, it issued a supplemental report detailing legislative proposals to begin addressing the concerns that surfaced in the two reports."

    In other words, they work well enough but they are not integrated enough in the nightmare beureaucracy that is NYC's City Hall.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  2. #2
    I've never read a book by Ayn Rand.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    I've never read a book by Ayn Rand.
    Why, oh why, have you denied yourself that treat. Of course, Saint Ayn loved monumental, blank-walled, arrogant, modernist architecture, but otherwise....

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Some good stuff in Rand. Like everything else, you cannot take it all as gospel truth.

    Any feedback on the article, you smartasses!?!
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  5. #5
    Just confirms what I've been saying all along. The city is incompetent and is leasing out the business it should be expert in to third-party associations, without, it should be noted, giving them their tax money back. You pay to get a service, then they ask you to pay again to provide the service yourself.

    A group of people who have absolutely no interest in the success of the city and really want to exploit it to their own ends are condemning it as undemocratic and unfair to workers. It's a good thing it's undemocratic and can thus provide employment to people who would be otherwise excluded from city jobs by unions.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    "...You pay to get a service, then they ask you to pay again to provide the service yourself..."
    Yes, that really takes the cake. That people are even willing to countenance this is proof of how disfunctional the municipality can get.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  7. #7
    we have a bid in Plymouth Uk which is administered by a private company called the plymouth city centre company. Throughout its 3 year history it has collected millions in a bid levy from shops in the plymouth city centre. That money was suppose to benefit and improve the city centre but instead it has been spent on promoting and advertising the business interests of the companies directors.
    I pay a substantial amount in bid levies but i gain no benefit whatsoever. Why? because in order to gain the benefits you have to become a member of this private company. Since membership is open to only a select few, all i end up doing is subsidising the interests of the directors of this company one of which happens to own a competing business.
    Bids are rife with corruption whose only purpose is to divert what is essentially public money into the pockets of their corrupt directors.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by edna parish View post
    we have a bid in Plymouth Uk which is administered by a private company called the plymouth city centre company. Throughout its 3 year history it has collected millions in a bid levy from shops in the plymouth city centre. That money was suppose to benefit and improve the city centre but instead it has been spent on promoting and advertising the business interests of the companies directors.
    I pay a substantial amount in bid levies but i gain no benefit whatsoever. Why? because in order to gain the benefits you have to become a member of this private company. Since membership is open to only a select few, all i end up doing is subsidising the interests of the directors of this company one of which happens to own a competing business.
    Bids are rife with corruption whose only purpose is to divert what is essentially public money into the pockets of their corrupt directors.

    Is the bid not regulated by the municipality? Presumably they have majority support of business owners? How big is the bid footprint relative to the town? is it difficult to move out of the bid area? My impression is that bids were voluntary associations. As in many cases, it may well be that someone adopted the jargon (BID, oooohh) and not the best practices....

    In any case, at worst they are as bad as a town hall raising your business rates and then not spending the money in a way you find useful.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    Is the bid not regulated by the municipality?
    Why do you assume municipal regulation can prevent abuse? If the municipality could regulate correctly, there would be no need for a BID.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Why do you assume municipal regulation can prevent abuse? If the municipality could regulate correctly, there would be no need for a BID.

    I don't assuem anything. I jsut emant that if the local BID si so bad, why doesn't she seek redress? IF teh municipal govt. si that poor, then with or without bid the person from Plymouth would suffer anyway.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  11. #11
    Officially the Plymouth bid was created with a majority vote by the shopkeepers within its boundaries. However i and many others never received ballot papers until after the votes were counted - so right from the start it was rigged.
    We cannot move as the business has been firmly entrenched in Plymouth for 110 years.
    The situation has worsened with 120,000 being spent on a promotion campaign for one of our competitors who happen to be a member of the BID company.
    The office of Fair trading at this stage are reluctant to get involved as it is a local authority issue and the local authority ombudsman say it is a private company issue. In essence we have no redress whatsoever save for running a campaign exposing the corrupt practices of a BID to the Public. Hopefully enough people will realise that their taxes are being pocketed by the corrupt BID and maybe one day this vile, undemocratic and corrupt cartel will be imprisoned.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by edna parish View post
    Officially the Plymouth bid was created with a majority vote by the shopkeepers within its boundaries. However i and many others never received ballot papers until after the votes were counted - so right from the start it was rigged.
    We cannot move as the business has been firmly entrenched in Plymouth for 110 years.
    The situation has worsened with 120,000 being spent on a promotion campaign for one of our competitors who happen to be a member of the BID company.
    The office of Fair trading at this stage are reluctant to get involved as it is a local authority issue and the local authority ombudsman say it is a private company issue. In essence we have no redress whatsoever save for running a campaign exposing the corrupt practices of a BID to the Public. Hopefully enough people will realise that their taxes are being pocketed by the corrupt BID and maybe one day this vile, undemocratic and corrupt cartel will be imprisoned.

    Sounds pretty bad. Who's the MP there?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    The main criticisms of BIDs, according to this article are:
    1. They are undemocratic
    2. Unfair to workers (read: they do not employ horrendously overpaid, lazy, unionized city employees)
    The Boston Police Patrolmens Association (police union) has successfully fought off a BID in the Downtown Crossing section of central Boston (MA) for about 6 years now. The union argues that it amounts to privatized security in a public space.

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