Maintenance district plan would clean up the streets, but at a price
by SEBASTIAN RUIZ
Published - 06/11/08 - 12:19 PM | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Take a walk along Garnet Avenue on a Monday morning and you'll see the aftermath left behind by the thousands who pass through Pacific Beach every weekend.

Cigarette butts, fast food wrappers and club fliers litter the gutters, tree planters and sidewalks dotted with hardened gum.

Discover Pacific Beach "” the Pacific Beach Business Improvement Association that represents approximately 1,200 local businesses "” has spent the last two years trying to solve the problem by introducing a maintenance assessment district (MAD).

By creating the district, money could be raised by collecting a fee from property owners "” both residential and commercial "” within the district to pay for extra services such as daily trash removal and extra police officers patrolling the area.

But many residents and some business owners say they shouldn't have to pay for a trash problem coming from the bars along Garnet Avenue and Mission Boulevard.

The City Council was scheduled to vote Tuesday, June 10, whether or not to send ballots to property owners within the proposed district, but it was withdrawn from following the negative response, mostly from homeowners, against new fees added to their property taxes, Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.

"It would only be best to proceed with a maintenance assessment district that focuses on the commercial corridors," Faulconer said, "I think the Business Improvement District wants to have that focus start there and have a longer community discussion."

He said that more discussion would help form a consensus on how to move forward with a MAD.

Discover Pacific Beach Executive Director Benjamin Nicholls said he requested the item be pulled from the City Council agenda.

"We're going to look into other alternatives and perhaps a more streamlined [maintenance assessment district]," he said.

The proposed MAD included properties in a T-shape that covers Cass Street to the beach between Mission Bay to Chalcedony Street and the area between Felspar and Thomas streets to Gresham Street.

The program aimed to raise about $475,000 a year to clean streets, add a few more police officers on the weekends along Garnet Avenue and provide other services, such as tree pruning.

But the residents felt that they shouldn't be charged for problems they feel are created by the bars and taverns.

"It's the commercial businesses or owners who need to foot the bill, not the residents," said Jim Moore, owner of Mission Bay Realty and former Pacific Beach Town Council president.

Moore manages three properties that would've been charged the proposed MAD fee.

Moore and others opposed to the district plan packed a Thursday, June 5, meeting organized to discuss the proposed district.

Discover Pacific Beach boardmember Jerry Hall said Pacific Beach doesn't need a MAD.

"If Discover PB spent a little time focusing on cleaning up PB with its own resources, they could do it," he said. Hall is also a member of the Pacific Beach Town Council Safe and Beautiful Committee.

In working with the town council, Hall said he helped raise about $15,000 in grant funds to improve Pacific Beach.

Nicholls, however, said Discover Pacific Beach lacks the resources to provide the services of a MAD, adding that future Discover Pacific Beach cleanup programs will have to rely more on volunteerism.

That means property owners and managers would have to clean up cigarette butts and trash near their storefronts as well as power wash sidewalks, which many businesses along Garnett Avenue already do, he said.

Discover Pacific Beach and the city spent a lot of money, time and resources over the last two years putting the proposal together, Nicholls said.

"It's like a bad Disneyland ride where you spend two years waiting in line and two days watching it fall apart. But if you're on the wrong track, you'd rather learn you're on the wrong track and get off it," he said.

Nicholls said there are other beach-area program at risk of running out of funding since the proposed MAD was shot down.

Nicholls said the grant that funds the Beach Area Community Court, which allows first-time beach lawbreakers to face a panel of community members, could run out before the end of summer.

According to city officials, more than 55 MADs operate in the city that help pay for services permitted by state law.

The proposed West Pacific Beach MAD would have raised $474,426.26 for:

"¢ Four off-duty police officers on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

"¢ Daily litter removal

"¢ Daily private and city trash collection

"¢ Graffiti removal

"¢ Landscape maintenance

"¢ Replacement of trash cans, broken street lights and trees.

Other San Diego maintenance assessment districts:

Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corportation Maintenance Assessment District raises about $450,000 for:

"¢ Litter removal two days a week

"¢ Tree maintenance and replacement

"¢ Graffiti removal

"¢ Sidewalk sweeping twice a week and power washing as needed

"¢ Emptying trash and recycle bin twice a week

"¢ Quarterly trail and canyon beautification

 

Mission Boulevard MAD (south of Pacific Beach Drive) assesses 45,000 a year to:

"¢ Provide mainly for the maintenance of rights-of-way,

"¢ Maintain trees and planters

 

Little Italy MAD assesses $750,000 a year for:

"¢ Scheduled power washing

"¢ Rights-of-way maintenance

"¢ Emptying trash bins

"¢ Security

"¢ Extra maintenance between property line and street curb

 

The Ocean Beach MAD assesses about 53,000 a year for similar programs.
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