Village Staying Focused

Fair Oaks, CA  |  Story and photo by Jacqueline Fox
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Daneece Frazier, owner of EJ’s Little People Hair Salon & Boutique in Fair Oaks Village and FOVEC’s current treasurer hopes the sun will shine on the new PBID.

Village Group Makes Second PBID Run

Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Members of the Fair Oaks Village Enhancement Committee (FOVEC) are rolling up their sleeves and, once again pushing to obtain enough support from local property and business owners to launch a Property and Business Improvement District (PBID) for the village.

PBIDs, proved to be successful in other parts of the county, including Citrus Heights and Carmichael, create a funding pipeline through assessments on commercial and residential property owners situated in the PBID zone.  Once established, PBID assessments are collected and managed by an elected PBID board, generally comprised of stakeholder members, and used to pay for services to invigorate the local economy, mitigate blight and vandalism and other security issues linked to homelessness and vagrancy.

While FOVEC has the support needed from the county, including the roughly $50,000 needed to form a PBID, the group, now comprised of roughly 12 members, failed to obtain the required 51 percent approval from local business and property owners last June to move forward with its application.  As such, FOVEC was granted an extension until spring of 2018 to try once more to convince enough business and property owners in the PBID zone to get on board.

“We are going to go at this again because we need to, and we are going to give it our best shot,” said Greg Vincent, a local homebuilder and current FOVEC president.  “We were only able to get roughly 26 percent of the (business and property owners) to support the idea of a PBID last time around, despite a lot of hard work and outreach by this group.  This time, we have to invigorate our base and really get the information out there about the importance of forming the PBID, what it is and what it can do.”

PBID membership is mandatory, once approved by a 51 percent majority vote and business and commercial property owners are assessed, usually quarterly, based on square footage of their buildings.  The assessments are collected by PBID officers who also determine how to allocate the funds, who to contract with for services, such as street cleaning, graffiti removal and private security, and keeping members informed of the PBID’s progress.

The process of obtaining support for a PBID sounds straightforward on paper.  What business wouldn’t want to take a chunk of their sales to help support viability for the area and future growth?  Well, for starters, not everyone likes the idea of a “tax,” which is essentially what the assessments are.  So getting businesses operators who own their buildings to agree to one is proving difficult.  In other cases, property owners are not locally based and it can be difficult to convince them of the need for changes when they may live thousands of miles away.  Property owners who support the PBID would likely also pass assessments down to their business tenants, also an extremely unpopular idea for some small mom-and-pop shops in the village to grapple with.

“There are many property owners who never come to the village and don’t see the need for improvements the way the business owners who are here in the village doing business daily,” Vincent said.  “In many cases, it is almost impossible to get them to come out for public meetings and hear from us in person about the advantages of forming a PBID.  They just don’t want to come.”

According to the findings of an economic opportunity study completed in March of this year for FOVEC by an outside consultant, roughly 86 percent of business and community members surveyed about the value of the Village as a destination say they have a vested interest in the PBID’s overarching goals.  They want more parking, but they want to keep the village “walkable.”  They also want better marketing opportunities to generate sales that could justify opening longer hours, as many businesses in the village are closed on Sundays and Mondays and roughly only half are open past 5 p.m.  

Both residents and stakeholders said they wanted a better mix of businesses in the village to bring in a different demographic, such as cafes and restaurants to invigorate the village’s reputation across the region.  According to the report, 87 percent of visitors surveyed for the study live in the area.

According to Daneece Frazier, owner of EJ’s Little People Hair Salon & Boutique in the village and FOVEC’s current treasurer, PBID supporters and those on the fence essentially want the same things.  But there is some form of a disconnect, she said, between the two sides when it comes down to taking the next steps forward.

“We have been working very closely with all the business owners at our events and our public meetings, and we had a lot of people tell us to our face they support the concept,” says Frazier.  “But a lot of them just wouldn’t support the idea of the PBID once they walked away.”

The Carmichael PBID, approved in fall of 2016, was used by FOVEC as a model for its PBID application.  The PBID for Fair Oaks Boulevard, now called the Carmichael Improvement District (CID), was approved by just under 70 percent of local property owners.  In July, CID board members signed contracts with a street cleaning service and a private security patrol company to serve the PBID area, kicking off an Aug. 1 “Clean and Safe” initiative. 

County Supervisor Susan Peters, whose district includes Fair Oaks, said she’s seen the numbers for Carmichael and points to its successes as evidence of a PBID’s efficacy. 

“The numbers have come across my desk and I know Carmichael is seeing percentage drops on crime and other issues,” Peters said. 

FOVEC is amidst planning out future community meetings, upgrading its website and has approved funds to launch a “Support the PBID” bumper sticker campaign.

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