It’s a mad MAD world in Mission Beach
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 11/18/16 - 04:15 PM | 4 4 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
People in Mission Beach these days seem to be glad – or mad – about a new proposed maintenance assessment district (MAD) now in its early formative stages in the beach community.

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."

Comments
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memento_mori
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April 16, 2017
There are about 1600 vacation rentals in mission beach. Assumign they all collect and remit to the city the required 10.5% tax, that is a lot of income tax being generated by Mission Beach for the city of San Diego. Why should this money not be used locally in Mission Beach?

A simple calculation suggests that vacation rentals in MB generate about 4 to 5 million in TOT tax alone for the city of San Diego. Why isnt this money being invested in Mission Beach where it belongs?

Mission Blvs looks like some street in a third world country, seawall is crumbling, SDGE utility poles are as ugly as it could be and no undergrounding in sight, yet thousand of people come to Mission Beach each summer to enjoy the beach and they would grately benefit if the city channeled more of that tax money to Mission Beach.
MB Resident
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November 19, 2016
OOPS, you forgot to mention the 'resident' Mr. Ashton, is a consultant for the Patio Group, owner of the Patio Restaurant in PB. The progressive business owner of The Patio, Saska's, Swell Coffee, LuvSurf and ANI, who filed for and received non-profit status for BeautifulMB.com, the website organizing this proposed PLAN "for" the community of NORTH MB.

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.”

Mr. Ashton is correct, this should be a Business Improvement District proposal, NOT a resident paid for business improvement plan.
Gloria Henson
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November 19, 2016
Hello Mr. Schwab,

The MB MAD article you wrote uncovers only a small part of a very interesting story. Mission Beach is a beautiful, fun beach area to visit and a paradise to live in. As you know, during the summer hundreds of thousands of San Diego county residents flock to the beaches for weather relief and a fun day in the water. People from all over the world come to stay for a weeks vacation. Those crowds create business, but require more policing, leave lots of trash and create traffic and parking problems. Non-summer months see fewer traffic, parking, and policing problems, no trash problems and less business. A business person who acquired property in MB decided MB needed a Maintenance Assessment District, to stimulate business. Little Italy was an example. She funded and filed for a 501C non profit called BeautifulMB. Then she and a small group of local business people drafted a half MILLION$$$ PLAN to create a bureaucracy to manage MB and promote business. They are selling their PLAN on the idea of ridding MB of it's fly problem. The 2nd trash pick-up was discontinued in 2010 when MBTC requested and received a recycle pickup. Immediately we had summer fly problems. The city agreed to summer 2nd trash pickup in 2016 at a cost of $80,000. Flys gone. The MAD is $560,000. The other $380,000 will be used to sweep sidewalks daily in front of the Catamaran, Belmont Park and Bahia, pay for signage to promote MB businesses and pay $120,000 maintenance fee for the bureaucracy. This is all bad enough but the residents are being asked to pay additional taxes (MB has the highest sq.ft. tax rate in SD county) to support the cost related to summer visitors and promoting businesses. There is a vehicle called a Business Improvement District (BID) which would be appropriate for this PLAN. The residents are not really being asked, they are being ordered to pay. The voting mechanism to approve this MAD gives the Catamaran & Bahia 70% weighted voting power. Even if every resident voted against the Plan it would still pass. The City recognized that the community was informed of the MAD, was not in favor of it and questioned the boundries and other points of the PLAN. The Plan was sent back to BeautifulMB to address the community concerns. In your article you interviewed "a resident" Mr. Mark Ashton. Mr. Ashton is a local business/property management supporter. You interviewed Mr. Day from the MBTC, another local business person. Both of these gentlemen want residents to pay taxes to support their business. You listed what the MAD claims to provide. Please help me understand which one of these things is not a STANDARD city service, included in the taxes we already pay? Your article included problems in SOUTH MISSION. SMB excluded it's self from the PLAN. The MBTC members live in SOUTH MB. The taxes (TOT) paid by visitors to MB go into the general fund. The General fund should cover sidewalk sweeping, beach wall repair, streets and alley cleaning. The city does provide these services and they are sufficient except during the summer months and except for maintaining the beach wall, which is crumbling. Your article is just a tip of this very big ice berg. Of course the residents do not want to pay more property tax for services the city should provide and for promoting local businesses. This should be a Business Improvement District Plan, not something the residents pay for.

Respectfully Gloria Henson
John S
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November 21, 2016
Stop The MAD Tax! Don't use public money for MB business purposes. Let MB business cover their own upkeep expenses.
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