Exploring the Options

Citrus Heights, CA  |  Story by Jacqueline Fox
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The concept of a PBID for the area is likely to be the group’s most effective move toward obtaining desired improvements for their stretch of Auburn Boulevard, which is dotted with vacancies, aging signage and a growing homelessness issue, among others. Photo by Paul Scholl

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Linda Finn of Aba Daba Renals is also helping to find new ways to improve the area. Photo by Jacqueline Fox.

ABBA Pondering a PBID

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - The Auburn Boulevard Business Association (ABBA) is considering forming a Public Business Improvement District or PBID as a way to generate funding for desired improvements along the business corridor stretching from Sylvan Corners to Interstate 80.

Although preliminary in nature, ABBA President and Founder Richard Hale, owner of Walt’s Auto Service, said the group’s members have been presented with three potential assessment scenarios based square footage for their buildings that would each generate different amounts to cover the costs ford supplemental services and improvements for the boulevard.  No time limit has been set for a decision.

“This is all very new to our members and we are just beginning the process of discussions,” said Hale.  “We are nowhere near ready to take a vote or anything like that.  As you can imagine, many business and property owners feel they shouldn’t have to pay for something they already are paying for.  We just want to explore the option and see where we go from there.”

A PBID requires an application to the County of Sacramento and a majority vote by its stakeholders, or in this case, commercial and residential property owners within the proposed boundary lines.  Once established, members are assessed a fee based on square footage of their buildings and “taxed” annually.  Fees are used to cover a range of services and improvements decided upon by members, often facilitated through a PBID board, and may include supplemental street cleaning services and the hiring of a private security firm, for example, as well as signage and street scape improvements.

The concept of a PBID for the area is likely to be the group’s most effective move toward obtaining desired improvements for their stretch of Auburn Boulevard, which is dotted with vacancies, aging signage and a growing homelessness issue, among others.  Both Mayor Jeff Slowey and City Manager Chris Boyd have said ABBA members, which total just under three dozen currently, and the remaining business owners need to be involved in any plan going forward that calls for additional services and renovations beyond the city’s own programs.

Heretofore, the city has provided ABBA with a $25,000 grant and paid a consultant to help the group formulate its vision for a revitalized Auburn Boulevard.  That vision was crafted in two parts in October and includes a goal to create a “destination” status for the boulevard, complete with new and relevant businesses, regular community events and a plan for addressing blight, security and the homelessness crisis.

Meanwhile, the city is preparing to begin Phase II of its Auburn Complete Streets Revitalization Project, which would continue with the improvements completed in Phase I in 2014.  Phase I covered the stretch of the boulevard running from Rusch Park to Sylvan Corners.  Phase II, which remains unfunded, will address the boulevard from roughly Grand Oaks Boulevard to Whyte Avenue.

ABBA’s vision for the boulevard, part of the original Transcontinental Highway stretching from Reno to Atlantic City, also calls for a renewed sense of community pride that both invites visitors from outside the area and residents alike to patronize businesses, many of which have been in operation in Citrus Heights for decades, others new to the area and banking on a resurgence.

ABBA, which began as a group of business owners desiring to attract more customers, is now a full-fledged non-profit with a growing membership and strong city support.  That said, the PBID formation process will not be easy.  Currently Fair Oaks Village Business Association is taking its second stab at formation of a PBID for the Village, which failed to get the necessary votes for a ballot last spring.  Village business and property owners alike are vehemently opposed to being taxed for services they think the city should already be providing more of.

On the other side of the coin, the Carmichael Improvement District, the official name for the Fair Oaks Boulevard PBID approved by voters in 2016, is reaping the benefits of having the funds in place to pay for private trash, street cleaning and security services.  Other successes with a PBID formation are evident in the Sunrise Marketplace and Fulton and Watt avenue business improvement districts, among others.

To get the ABBA PBID to a ballot it will need supporters, lots of them.  And no better way to achieve that than to continue to build up membership, which will be the primary focus of ABBA over the coming months.

“We are going to be going out door-to-door and talking to the businesses in the area and trying to build up our membership,” Hale said.  “That’s our main focus for the next few months, just working hard to let people know how important it is to them to be part of this.”