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BIDs: Big Brother or Benevolent Boosters?

Should a business improvement district have an expiration date? That's the question some property owners in downtown Los Angeles are beginning to ask as they chafe at the "aggressive cleaning up" and additional tax assessments that fund them.
December 17, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Although downtown L.A.'s network of business improvement districts have been credited with helping to turn around the "once-desolate" area and continue to provide "the kind of aggressive maintenance and security services that City Hall simply cannot afford" while helping to "market the area to new investors," lawsuits from property owners who believe they're no longer necessary are challenging their very existence, reports Sam Allen.

"Some critics say the BIDs have too much of a Big Brother feel, describing them as a kind of police force under the control of private executives whose aggressive cleaning up can sometimes feel like harassment. In the arts district, critics have posted bright orange 'RID THE BID' banners and launched a petition online."

But the BIDs are fighting back. "Don't let anyone kid you, the heavy lifting is done by the BIDs," said Estela Lopez, who runs BIDs in the industrial core and arts district through an organization called the Central City East Assn. "We brought the developers here. We brought the investors here."

"Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents much of downtown, went as far as to say it would be 'dangerous' for the city not to have BIDs."

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Published on Friday, December 14, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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