Paper: Stop the BID bid

The Brooklyn Paper
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A sizeable number of merchants along Fulton Street in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill is revolting against new city tax that would fund enhanced sanitation, policing and other basic city services.

The tax would finance a new Business Improvement District, one of 60 quasi-public entities now operating in the five boroughs. Taxes on business owners within the so-called “BIDs” raise $80 million — on top of the taxes already taking a bite out of Mom and Pop.

We’re not naive as to why BIDs were created two decades ago. The city was not — and, indeed, is still not — doing a good enough job providing sanitation and security along some of our busiest commercial strips. With the city abrogating these most basic of services, business owners jumped into the breach, taxing themselves to make up for the failure of our elected leaders to ensure clean and safe streets.

There is often grumbling from some merchants when the formation of a new BID is in discussion. Many business owners think it’s galling to pay a second tax on top of their existing taxes to get something that the city is supposed to provide. And others point out that BIDs operate with limited oversight and sometimes at cross purposes to other BIDs nearby.

In the case of Fulton Street, another issue is arising in the debate. The anti-BID merchants argue that a BID’s cleaner and safer streets actually speed the gentrification process. When neighborhoods become more desirable places to live, this argument goes, property values rise and the original merchants and residents are driven out. In a sense, the business owners forming a BID would actually be paying to speed their own demise.

But gentrification is not the villain here. If there is any constant in New York City, it is change. The city’s ability to retain its middle- and upper-middle class over the past 20 years means that, instead of fleeing to the sterile suburbs, these residents now make their homes, pay their taxes, send their kids to schools, eat in restaurants and shop at stores in communities all over Brooklyn.

This is a good thing.

But we agree with the BID renegades on the issue of who should pay to keep our neighborhoods clean, safe and vibrant. To us, this is solely a city responsibility. We all pay taxes here — and no community should be so neglected that its merchants must scrape together more money to meet what has always been a city responsibility.

It’s time for City Hall to stop double-taxing local merchants and start providing the services necessary to allow businesses to succeed.

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

progresivo from fort greene says:
This is a preposterous editorial and I am disappointed in the Brooklyn Paper for being so short-sighted in its analysis.

BIDs have been instrumental in not only keeping commercial corridors safe and clean, but the dedicated staff people that are paid for with BID funds generate marketing campaigns and fundraise for additional resources that pay for critical benefits, such as strorefront improvements.

Every research report I have ever seen on BIDs notes how vital a mechanism they are for reinvigorating and growing commercial corridors.

The City pays for basic sanitation and security services across all five boroughs in areas residential and commercial, but our commercial strips often require daily trash pick up and additional security detail to prevent theft and vandalism.

Furthermore, your editorial fails to discuss the particularities of this case. The Fulton BID in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill has been signed into law. This BID will launch at the start of the new fiscal year. The process to develop a new BID is prolonged and provides ample opportunity for businesses to voice their opposition - which did not happen in the case of the Fulton BID.

When private sector forces are willing to contribute to the betterment of our neighborhoods, I praise their investment and embrace their generosity.
June 7, 2009, 5:37 pm
Robert Lederman from Brooklyn says:
Excellent editorial on the single biggest threat to public space and civil liberties in NYC - BIDs. If you want to know more about BIDs go to:

ALL BID materials.
Legal papers, BID proposals, articles, addresses, emails etc

Links for street artists:
vending law, media clips, street vending guides etc
June 9, 2009, 8:25 am
Jan Lee from Chinatown, manhattan says:
BRAVO to the Brooklyn paper for this editorial.
For too long this mayor and the one before him have put the burden of keeping the city clean on the backs of hard working small businesses.

Once a BID is formed it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to dismantle. The very nature of BID boards ensures that a lopsided representation is constant and huge amounts of DEBT are taken on thereby ensuring the BID's permanent installation. Once a BID incurs a DEBT, ie: loans from banks (who are on BID boards) against their BID revenue, the law says that the BID can NOT be dismantled.

The system is set up to permanently exclude small businesses from making decisions, and furthermore residents have NO say whatsoever.
A token representation of residents is routinely outvoted. This is not a democracy, it is unAmerican. No wonder Guiliani and Bloomberg are supporters of BIDS.
Manhattan Chinatown is under seige and threatened with a BID. we are opposing this UnAmerican Undemocratic form of governance.
July 25, 2009, 2:17 pm

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