The Q&A public-input meeting over the controversial downtown Business Improvement District proposition was last night.
From WLOS: BID protest (video)
From the Asheville Citizen-Times: Asheville BID pros and cons weighed at public input meeting
“Every day, I swept the sidewalk in front of my business, and it was my responsibility to clean up graffiti,” she said. “It never occurred to me that it was anyone else’s responsibility.”
Downtown resident Kathy Conaway agreed.
“To me, it’s so redundant. What are we supporting? It makes no sense to me to pay out the money for something the city should already be doing with its tax money,” she said.
“We also have no guarantees about how the money is spent.”
But a Business Improvement District doesn’t have to be restricted to just those areas, said Franzi Charen, co-owner of Hip Replacements clothing shop on Lexington Avenue who has been active in the development of the proposal.
“Once a BID gets going, it can have the room and opportunity to pool money for projects” that wouldn’t otherwise get funded, Charen said, such as unique bicycle racks designed by local artists, a project another BID city completed.
From Mountain Xpress: Differing views at downtown Asheville BID meeting
“I started out adamantly against it because I felt it was fairly redundant,” Asheville resident Jeff McLarty said. “I think I’ve changed to ambivalent.” He says he still has concerns about the BID’s effect on residents and is worried that it will divide downtown from the rest of the city and make some people feel unwelcome.
Downtown resident Buck Bragg, however, thinks the BID is necessary.
“For us, we experience the issues with cleanliness and safety every day. What are the options to deal with them?” he said. “Our takeaway is that the BID is the best option.”
City council takes up the BID issue again in late September.
Backstory on the BID here.
What are the key objections to the voluntary association of stakeholders for creating an independent organization with the same mission and purview as the BID?
1. Free riding
My reading of the legal authority for a BID tells me that the BID is entirely a creature of local government and should be subject to open meetings laws, public comment and local government oversight, similar to the now-defunct URTV.
Actually, a BID is a non-profit organization sanctioned by local government.