When Jeremy Krug reached out to Civitas Advisors in 2016 about starting a property and business improvement district in Antelope, he was surprised to discover the first steps were already underway. Krug, the store manager of a WinCo, learned that the consultancy firm had been exploring potential boundaries for the PBID, as part of a larger effort by the County of Sacramento to establish these districts throughout the area.
“The next step was reaching out to property owners, shaking hands, introducing ourselves to each other,” he says.
Krug shook a lot of hands — and in doing so, helped successfully make the case for the Antelope PBID, which the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved on July 17. In all, 75 businesses and 44 property owners make up the new PBID. In January 2019, the nonprofit Antelope Business Community will form to allocate funds raised by the Antelope PBID.
The Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 gave California cities and counties the authority to form self-assessing districts in order to generate revenue for maintenance, security and other services through property taxes. Krug, interim board president for the Antelope PBID, says the funds will provide a safer and cleaner environment, which will ultimately attract more customers. Chief among the concerns of business and property owners in voting in favor of the PBID is reducing crime and homelessness in their communities.
This new PBID is just the latest in a rash of these districts forming throughout the Sacramento area. California’s first PBID, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, was founded in 1995 and since then many other PBIDs have formed to revitalize Midtown, the R Street Corridor, Oak Park, as well as areas in Carmichael and around Watt Avenue. Orangevale may be next on the list, if current efforts come to fruition.
Sacramento County District 4 Supervisor Sue Frost says her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors all support PBIDS as an economic development tool. “Every one of us have PBIDs in our district and understand that it’s a huge benefit,” Frost says. “PBIDs aren’t taking away resources from the community; they are adding to it.”
Creating a PBID requires a simple majority of property owners to submit a petition for self-assessment based on property taxes, which ultimately must be approved by the County Board of Supervisors, but the process can take years to organize community members, create boundaries and identify the needs within a specific district.
“In the case of Antelope,” says Supervisor Frost, “a lot of residents were concerned about homelessness and crime. In an online survey something like 90 percent said they were problems in Antelope.”
Also according to Frost, Antelope property owners and residents were encouraged by the Watt 80 PBID, which reduced crime by 35 percent in its first year.
“People get scared from some of these transients and homeless — and I understand that some need attention for their disability or mental state — but then some people are frightened away from our business,” says Paul Bajwa, owner of a Shell Gas Station in Antelope. “That’s the reason why I wanted to go ahead and pay a little bit more on my property taxes to see if we could clean up the area and make it a bit more conducive place for people to shop here with us.”
During the petition process, property owners of the Antelope PBID agreed to self-assess additional property taxes based on square footage, from approximately $0.02 to $0.05 per square foot on commercial, apartment or vacant parcels, which will generate about $229,000 for the PBID’s first year. According to Frost, 78 percent of the first year budget will go to security, and the remainder to administration, maintenance and repairs. Property owners’ first bill of the assessment will be due in December.
The initiative for the Antelope PBID grew out of Sacramento County’s PBID Academy, a partnership formed in 2015 with Civitas Advisors; the Sacramento-based firm was hired to identify areas for potential PBIDs and assist in the petitioning and balloting process.
Civitas founder and president, John Lambeth, drafted the original PBID law of 1994, and has helped facilitate the formation of PBIDs across California. “We help [community members] walk through the decision-making process, then form all the legal documents associated with putting the district together,” Lambeth says.
Community organizer Brad Squires hopes to follow in Antelope’s footsteps and start the application process for a PBID in Orangevale — perhaps as soon as 2019. Squires, who is working on opening a cafe there in the next year, says he recently learned about PBIDs through Frost’s office.
“Supervisor Frost is interested in moving in this direction, so I’m trying to lay groundwork by connecting some of the local businesses through the chamber, so that when we’re ready to make that pitch [for an Orangevale PBID], the conversation is already happening,” Squires says.
Squires says the PBID would likely happen along Greenback Lane. “Ideally we’re looking for more security presence, 24-hour presence, and keeping it clean it,” he says. “Those are some of the practical things, but we’re just bringing the group together in conversation.”
For now, Squires is hoping to start quarterly meetings to introduce other Orangevale property owners to the idea of forming a PBID. “If Orangevale decided they wanted to do a PBID they would have all the support from my office … we will be a part of that conversation all the way through,” Frost says.
That conversation is not just a requisite for a successful PBID, but also perhaps an essential ingredient to a healthy community. And in Antelope, as with any PBID, property owners see that conversation, and the additional fees they take on, as an investment that benefits not just businesses, but the larger community.
“There are just so many businesses that may not speak to each other, and just the act of working through this, I’ve met all the business owners, all the property owners in the area,” Krug says. “It helped bring us together to try and provide a better community, and now we’re doing it as a team.”