Owners shaping the image of streets 

Paying extra for services to keep an area safer and cleaner is a growing trend in San Francisco.

There are 10 locations in The City — including Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Fillmore district — where businesses or property owners have voted to pay an annual fee for more frequent graffiti removal, flower baskets and security personnel, among other things.

Now, more neighborhoods are planning to do the same by forming what are known as improvement districts.

Property owners in the 2500 block of Mission Street are expected to renew their district, which has been in place since 2006, and name it “Mission Miracle Mile,” with the hope that one day the district will cover the length of Mission Street. An effort to expand the district was put on hold due to the recession. On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee will vote on legislation that would authorize a renewal vote.

The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development is helping with the formation of similar districts in the Excelsior, West Portal, Ocean Avenue and Civic Center areas, and eastern neighborhoods. The City offers a matching grant to help with the upfront costs.

A district is formed by a vote of those who would pay the assessment and with approval by the Board of Supervisors. Districts vary in size, assessment amount, who pays the assessment and how the money is spent. The services paid for must be above and beyond what The City already provides.

“They make a lot of sense in terms of creating a thriving commercial district,” said Lisa Pagan, project manager for the Economic and Workforce Development Office.

“When you compare the 2500 block to the 2400 or 2300 block, you’ll be able to feel it. As you are walking or driving, you’ll be able to feel the difference,” said Gus Murad, who owns property and operates a business in the 2500 block of Mission Street. “It’s a small price to pay for starting your day off right and keeping your street clean.”


Sprucing up streets

Business and property owners pay into the Mission improvement district to receive benefits such as graffiti cleanup.

  • Mission improvement district includes 20 properties
  • Includes such commercial tenants as clothing stores, restaurants and markets
  • Assessment is $57.70 per linear feet of sidewalk frontage
  • In 2011, assessments would bring in $85,861
  • $50,000 slated for beautification, cleaning and maintenance
  • $20,000 for greening
  • $15,000 for safety and administrative needs
  • $861 for contingencies and reserve
  • Money pays for operation of seven surveillance cameras, which are said to help prevent drug dealing in the area
  • Pays for 20 hanging floral baskets with new flowers every six months and daily care
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