Representing Property Owners, Starts 2021 Renewal
In 2015, at least 51 percent of the commercial property owners in the main Pacific Palisades business district voted to pay a yearly assessment that could be used for tree trimming, street cleaning, sidewalk washing and garbage/trash pickup – things the City of Los Angeles can no longer afford to do.
The resulting Business Improvement District (BID) was formed in 2016 for a term of five years. The annual assessment is collected by the City and each property owner pays a certain percentage, based on the square footage of the building, lot size and street frontage.
Additionally, the City receives a percentage of the assessment revenue, usually from one to three percent and capped at five percent.
According to the City “BID assessments are not taxes. BID assessments are vehicles which convey a special benefit upon those who pay.” Last year’s Palisades BID budget was about $140,000.
The BID charter is up for renewal starting in 2021. Palisades BID President Rick Lemmo (representing Caruso) and Leland Ford (whose family owns the Ralphs/Car Wash/Pharmaca property) were part of an ad hoc committee that okayed the hiring of New City America’s Marco Li Mandri.
Before the September 4 BID meeting in the Chamber of Commerce office, Mandri estimated what the BID renewal budget would be and how much money each property owner would have to pay. Lemmo handed out estimates to board members only, who were required to turn them in at the end of the meeting. Lemmo emphasized the numbers were only estimates and until the City approved the renewal, they should not be made public.
Mandri, who was communicating via telephone, said that the first task was to submit data to the City in August, which he had done. He said assessments were projected to increase by five percent in the next fiscal year and that the proposed budget would be more than $152,000.
He said that LAUSD’s Palisades Elementary would no longer be included in the budget. (The Village Green is also not part of the BID, although it is in the middle of the BID boundaries.)
“We’re still waiting for Caruso,” Mandri said, meaning the City had not yet received the official square footage of Palisades Village property, which opened in September 2018.
Mandri asked that the board approve the budget so that he could submit documents to the City in September.
To renew a BID, the board must receive approval from property owners representing 51 percent of the total assessment. At the meeting it was mentioned that the three largest property owners – Caruso, Ford and Duesenberg (the TOPA building on Sunset) – would almost have enough property to trigger a ballot vote among the remaining property owners. Once a ballot vote is triggered, 50 percent plus one is required to renew the BID.
Manuel Pardo (Village School) found some errors in the numbers but was told that this is an estimate.
David Peterson (P.R.I.D.E.) said he couldn’t find some of the pages and Mandri responded, “This is the executive summary [nine pages], the overall document is 31 pages.”
Rick Lemmo asked, “What do we do if we’re locked into a budget and labor changes cause a seven percent increase?”
“You cannot increase the budget by more than 5 percent,” Mandri said.
The Chrysalis representative, Eleni Polakoff, said that it is likely that labor costs will go up because starting in 2020, the minimum wage increases. Chrysalis supplies the workers who empty the trash cans within the BID boundaries and who have been power washing the sidewalks.
Lemmo said that Caruso will probably pay the largest amount of money at $22,816, but that “Palisades Village does not use BID services.” He said that was a good thing because this allows more money allotted for other areas of the BID (on and off Sunset between Carey and Via de la Paz).
The Board approved the estimated budget, allowing Mandri (whose company is being paid $30,000 for renewal services) to take it to the City.
Lemmo said that a special luncheon for former president Elliot Zorensky would be hosted and paid for by Rick Caruso and would be only for board members. “We will not talk about BID business,” he noted.