“Trashy” BID Meeting
The Palisades Business Improvement District meeting on December 5, centered around questions about trash collection and tree lighting in the town’s main business district, but provided few answers.
After hearing reports from Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore and Councilman Mike Bonin’s field deputy Lisa Cahill, the group dived into business.
First up: the small storage shed in the City parking lot off Sunset Boulevard and La Cruz. It houses brooms, bags and other cleaning materials that Chrysalis workers use while keeping the trash cans emptied and the sidewalks/gutters cleaned. This cost is paid for by BID.
The City is charging the BID $120 a year to keep the bin on the lot in a “dead” space, BID President Elliott Zorensky said.
He asked Cahill if the BID could get a waiver. She said it would take a full City Council motion and most likely take several months.
BID member (PRIDE) David Peterson wondered if it was worth the effort. “We’re talking about $10 a month,” he noted
Member Susan Carroll (Gift Garden Antiques) said, “I agree we shouldn’t have to pay, but consider all the hours that the City will have to work to pass it.”
Another member responded that the City should waive the fee because, “We do the work that the City should be doing.”
Member Rick Lemmo (representing Caruso) thought the group should go to City Hall because he’s done motions like this before and said it’s just a matter of going through the process.
Cahill said she’d check into it. (As a reminder, City money is actually taxpayer money.)
Members continued to talk trash.
The City trash collectors visit the business once a week, but that’s not enough to keep up with overflowing trash cans and debris that collects in gutters.
Former Chamber Executive Director Arnie Wishnick had orchestrated fundraising by sending a letter to every house asking for donations, which were then used to pay Chrysalis workers. This campaign yielded about $30,000 a year without offering any special inducements.
The Chamber of Commerce, which has annually sent out a plea for financial support from residents to help keep the business district and adjacent areas clean, announced in May that it would no longer concern itself about litter and trash. They gave the money they had collected for 2018 for trash pickup to BID.
Lemmo and Chamber representative Nicole Howard reiterated that the Chamber is solely about supporting businesses.
“We are out of the [trash-collection business],” said Lemmo, who noted that not every business within the BID boundaries benefits from the trash program; Caruso’s project has its own crew.
Peterson said that he doesn’t understand why the Chamber doesn’t still send out a letter about trash pickup donations, because businesses benefit. (Obviously Caruso knows this, because his hired hands keep his properties spotless.)
Zorensky, who is in the commercial real estate business (notably on La Cruz), said he offered to pay $5,000 from his personal funds to send a solicitation letter. Legally, the BID cannot solicit money for trash pickup; it must operate strictly within its district. Any fundraisers they would hold, would have to solely benefit the business district.
Somebody noted that Palisades PRIDE might support a letter asking for donations to help with trash pickup.
Peterson replied that PRIDE would like to continue to work on beautification projects, which is why the organization was founded, and not have its focus on trash.
Chrysalis’s Eleni Polakoff reported that workers picked up 250 trash bags in November, similar to the previous two months, but this is 25 percent higher than last year at this time. The difference might be attributable to the opening of Palisades Village, which has brought more trash-producing visitors into the heart of town.
The BID has enough money (transferred from the Chamber account this summer) to continue trash pickup through December at the Marquez Business District, the Village Green and the branch library.
Marge Gold, who represents the Village Green at Sunset, Swarthmore and Antioch, said they have hired people to pick up trash and that the money that the Chamber raised last year is now just covering one day at that location.
If BID can’t afford to pay for trash collection in 2019, and the Chamber refuses to do, and it is not part of PRIDE’s mission, the Marquez business block, the Village Green and the library will need to hire someone to take care of trash and sweep sidewalks, starting in January.
Meanwhile, an ad hoc BID committee has been working almost since the formation of the BID in 2016 to put year-round lights in trees in the business district.
Zorensky said he had received information that put the cost at a dollar a day per parking space.
There are 42 trees that the BID wants to light, and at $30 a month, it would cost $1,260 a month. This doesn’t include installation, and the board was unclear whether that also included the cost of electricity.
Members of the board wondered how Westwood and Westchester are paying for their tree lights. Zorensky said he would check with someone in Westwood.
Lemmo announced that the ad hoc renewal committee had produced two candidates that could work on the BID renewal. Initially set up for five years, the Palisades BID expires in 2021 and the new hire would survey current businesses, examine a tax increase and perhaps suggest lengthening the BID’s charter to 7 or even 10 years.