The MAD is being organized and lobbied for by Beautiful Mission Beach, a community-based organization including some high-profile business owners in the area. A MAD is a legal mechanism whereby property owners, both businesses and residents, vote to create a special district and tax themselves to pay for public improvements such as enhanced maintenance, landscaping or lighting services. There are currently 61 maintenance assessment districts throughout San Diego.
Resident Buz Rahe of north Mission Beach, located between Belmont Park and Pacific Beach, said he and many of his residential neighbors are not in favor of creating a new MAD.
Among other things, Rahe said residents fear any MAD to be formed, which must pass a vote of the residents and businesses within its defined boundaries, will be “stacked, weighted in favor of businesses not residents.”
“It's overkill,” Rahe said of the proposed MAD. “While businesses may want to do improvements – we (residents) don't want them.”
Rahe said city officials “ought to be paying close attention to heeding this outcry from property owners in Mission Beach.” He added he felt the pro-MAD group Beautiful Mission Beach is “pushing too fast.”
Rahe called upon city officials to “re-evaluate this plan about Mission Beach before moving forward.”
Fred Day, president of Mission Beach Town Council, said the advisory group has not adopted a stance on the MAD.
“The Mission Beach Town Council has, at all times, maintained a neutral position on the matter,” Day said. “The council has, instead, encouraged wide community participation in the surveys and any ballot measure that might arise from the MAD effort.”
On a personal note, Day added, “I see the MAD as a potential benefit to the entire community, residents and businesses. I believe that residents and business owners have more common interests than not. Of course, there are those who believe otherwise, and I understand and respect their position.”
Those backing the Mission Beach MAD claim it will:
• Allow for additional trash pickups helping to thwart the beach community's serious fly pest problem.
• Help pay for cleaning sidewalks, alleys and streets on a regular basis.
• Repair damaged sea walls along the boardwalk.
• Fast-track road and alley improvements.
• Continue to press the city to begin utilities undergrounding.
• Help address Mission Beach lifeguard station issues.
• Support completion of the Mission Beach Plunge project to re-create the historic oceanside pool.
Another north Mission Beach resident, Mark Ashton, has a different take on the MAD. Ashton believes much of the opposition to creating a MAD comes from people who are resistant to change.
“This (MAD) is a mechanism to provide certain improvements in north Mission Beach,” said Ashton. “The rub is that you've got a residential community that is very provincial in their attitude about changing Mission Beach in any way.”
Ashton added that “proactive business people want to create this fund (MAD) to provide important things in the community that the city no longer has the resources to provide.”
Ashton said one idea being floated to make the MAD more palatable to residential property owners is to make the tax assessments “be more like a flat tax.” That, he said, could help to make the idea of self-taxing to fund community improvements “more palatable and equitable for the residential community” so they might reconsider “buying into it.”
Mission Beach businessman John Vallas who is lobbying for the proposed MAD, said, "It's exciting to see the Mission Beach community become ignited and passionate about projects in our neighborhood.”
Noting forming a new MAD “is a long, tedious process,” Vallas said nearly 40 community leaders, working with consultants and city officials over the last 24 months, have been “developing a plan for the community to set up permanent funding solutions to the community's top 10 issues.
"Ultimately, if the MAD gets to the mail-in ballot phase, it's up to residential property owners whether or not we want to set up this new legal mechanism to have an ongoing and permanent funding solution to address our community's unique needs, which the City refers to as 'special benefits' and are not considered benefits the City's required, or legally allowed, to provide to small areas and neighborhoods,” continued Vallas.
“The new district formation is currently still in the exploratory and formative phase, and the steering committee openly welcomes input from everyone in the community regarding the levels of services, the types of services, and the ancillary district operations proposed."