“If you want a second trash pickup – you're going to have to approve a maintenance assessment district (MAD),” Zapf said. “This is up to the community. You get to vote on it.”
A MAD is a special district within defined boundaries comprised of both property owners and businesses, who vote to tax themselves to pay for public improvements such as enhanced maintenance, landscaping or lighting services.
The Mission Beach MAD is being organized and lobbied for by Beautiful Mission Beach, a community-based organization including some high-profile business owners.
“Don't shoot the messenger,” said Zapf, noting she had to fight hard to get her City Council colleagues to approve a one-time, second trash pickup in Mission Beach in this year's city budget.
That extra trash pickup is generally acknowledged to have made a “huge difference” in cutting down on the fly population. MB also has a high number of short-term vacation rentals, which turn over frequently adding to the complexity of getting trash picked up frequently enough to interrupt the insect's life cycle.
But another ad hoc group, Residents Against the Mission Beach MAD, has been formed to oppose the measure. Several of those opponents at the steering committee meeting were mad about the MAD.
“What if we don't want the MAD at all?” asked one audience member. “What if we just want a second trash pickup, and we're not in favor of paying half a million dollars for staff and other things?”
“This is the community's decision,” answered Zapf. “If you decide you don't want it – vote no.”
A couple of residents from the audience then accused Zapf of being biased toward formation of the MAD, to which she replied, “I have no stake in it. It's up to you.”
In excerpts from a letter written by Residents Against the Mission Beach MAD to the mayor and city, opponents argued that the proposed MAD is “attempting to ram-rod assessments for primarily business improvement benefits down the throats of the North Mission Beach property owners.”
The Mission Beach proposed MAD is clearly a business improvement district that will benefit businesses, not a maintenance assessment district that will benefit everyone at Mission Beach.”
In their letter, opponents claim “the entire process to date has been non-transparent with little or no effort to inform property owners of the true facts about the MAD. The proposed MAD was created without resident property owner input. … Implementing a $560,000 MAD that has no real ceiling, to address an $80,000 second trash pickup, is insufficient justification to turn a proposed business improvement district into a MAD.”
A MAD presently exists in MB, but it's sole function is to maintain trees in the community's business district.
MB business owner John Valles, who's been lobbying for creation of the special district noted, “We have a long road ahead of us.”
Pointing out he and others have volunteered “countless hours to develop a plan,” Valles argued the proposed MAD isn't “smoke and mirrors.
“Instead of the city swooping in and solving our problems, and year after year having to go down to the City Council to beg for our problems to be solved, we want to take measures into our own hands,” Valles said. He noted residents, who are now assessed $20 annually for their MAD, would be assessed $75 to $80, perhaps even as low as $48 annually for the new MAD, which would cover a second trash pickup as well as other public benefits.
It was also explained to residents by steering committee members that, if a MAD is approved within the defined boundaries of a new district, that those votes by property owners would be “weighted,” with the votes of those paying higher property taxes carrying more weight.
The next MB MAD Steering Committee meeting will be held at a date yet to be determined in January 2017.