A plan to create a Civic Center Benefit District to improve public safety, make those attending the city’s prized art venues more comfortable, and better maintain the area has drawn concerns that the government could outvote other property owners.
It takes a weighted vote of 30 percent to initiate formation of a community benefit district, which, once formed, requires property owners in the district to a pay an annual fee.
But there are enough government-owned parcels in the proposed district that the government itself could vote to initiate formation of the district even if all other property owners voted against it.
That fact didn’t sit well with members of the Board of Supervisor Budget and Finance Committee. On Wednesday, they postponed a vote on legislation introduced by Mayor Gavin Newsom that would authorize the mayor to vote on behalf of the city’s properties. The committee instead opted to wait for the results of the private property owners, which are expected to come in on Oct. 8.
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he would not support moving ahead with formation of the district unless a majority of the private property owners want to.
Doing so would be “too much like Big Brother imposing on the poor sucker who owns private property near by,” he said
“We control the fate of whether or not there is 30 percent. If we say yes in any way every privately property owner with in the district could vote no but we have enough weight to make it happen anyway,” Elsbernd said.
Voting on the legislation would have been “putting the cart before the horse, the tail wagging the dog,” Supervisor John Avalos said.
“I think it makes sense that we see what happens in the private sector and see what the temperature is out there,” Avalos said.
Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes the Civic Center, wrote a letter to the committee in opposition of the legislation. Approving the legislation “will unduly influence” the process, he said.