San Mateo business aid sought 

At a time of economic malaise and shrinking city budgets, a San Mateo business group is looking to give the city’s shopping district a boost with a new business district.

The Downtown San Mateo Association is trying to build support for a business district that would tax property owners, raising a projected $782,000 a year for marketing, street beautification and other economic development efforts.

The Property and Business Improvement District would be the first of its kind on the Peninsula. Other business license taxes target business owners and typically raise less money.

Rob Edwards, the association’s executive director, is finalizing the plans for the district, which would encompass Tilton Avenue, El Dorado Street, Ninth Avenue and El Camino Real.

To form the district, the association needs signed petitions from owners comprising at least 50 percent of the assessment value, followed by a 45-day balloting period that also requires majority support. Edwards said he already has verbal support from 36 percent of the votes he needs.

The district would be managed by a board of property and business owners and fees would range from  4.7 cents to 12 cents per square foot.

The San Mateo Area Chamber of Commerce has not yet taken a position on the effort, said CEO Linda Asbury.

Some businesses say they don’t need the new district, but others recognize that such efforts have been successful elsewhere, like San Francisco’s Union Square, Edwards said.

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Shaun Bishop

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