WHAT LEGISLATION ENABLES GBDS?
GBDs are authorized by the state Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 (California Streets and Highways Code 36600-36617, or “1994 Act”) as augmented by Article 15A of the San Francisco’s Business and Tax Regulations Code. The 1994 Act authorizes cities, counties, and cities and counties to create assessment districts and levy proportionate assessments on real property and/or businesses for specified periods of time, to provide services, improvements and activities that specially benefit each assessed property and/or business. The addition of Article 15A to the CCSF Business and Tax Regulations Code created a procedural vehicle for neighborhoods to establish GBDs.
ARE THERE PRECEDENTS for this type of district?
Yes. Established in 2015, the Dogpatch & Northwest Potrero Hill GBD is the first neighborhood-based urban greening and stewardship district of its kind in California. Please visit www.greenbenefit.org for more information.
DOES A GBD AFFECT EXISTING CITY SERVICES?
GBD services are provided in addition to the existing baseline of services provided by the City. By adopting the GBD Management Plan, the CCSF Board of Supervisors will confirm and guarantee a baseline level of service equivalent to that being provided in similar areas of the city. A GBD owners’ nonprofit corporation will work in close partnership with CCSF agencies to ensure that the GBD’s goals are met in an efficient and fair manner, and that GBD services do not duplicate or replace baseline City services and agency responsibilities.
A GBD will also ensure that Baseline City Services are maintained at current levels, and moreover, deployed in ways that complement and leverage the GBD’s resources. A GBD owners’ nonprofit corporation will advocate for the neighborhood’s needs at City Hall and work to ensure that CCSF agencies meet their established agency and departmental goals.
CAN landlords pass their assessments to TENANTS?
The San Francisco Rent Ordinance prohibits owners of rent-controlled rental units from passing through the increased cost of special assessments to tenants in rent-controlled units, with the exception of general obligation bonds approved by 50% of voters and with express language allowing a pass-through. Owners of rent-controlled units do have the right under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance to file a Operating & Maintenance Petition requesting right to pass-through a portion of general operating costs for their buildings (including garbage, water, etc.), but not solely for increased costs associated special assessments. General tax increases may be considered as one of several cost factors. The petition must be approved by the Rent Board approval, and even if approved, low-income or fixed-income tenants may obtain a hardship exemption from the Rent Board from any pass-through approved by the Rent Board. For unregulated (post-1979) residential units and commercial buildings, the right of the landlord to pass through new assessments will depend on the terms of each individual lease and the state of the overall rental market.
IS THERE A PROCESS TO DISESTABLISH A GBD?
Property owners have the opportunity to request disestablishment of a GBD during a 30-day period each year. A written petition must be submitted by property owners who pay 50% or more of the assessments levied in the district. The Board of Supervisors will then hold a hearing on whether to disestablish a GBD. A majority of the Board of Supervisors (6 members) can also initiate disestablishment at any time based on misappropriation of funds, malfeasance, or violation of law in connection with the management of a GBD.
DOES THE EXISTENCE OF THE DNWPH GBD MEAN THAT THE CITY WILL PROVIDE FEWER MAINTENANCE SERVICES THAN IT DOES NOW?
No. The City currently provides a baseline of services to San Francisco's public realm, based upon annual City & County of SF (CCSF) budget allocations. By adopting the GBD Management Plan, the CCSF Board of Supervisors will confirm and guarantee a baseline level of service equivalent to that being provided in similar areas of the city. Throughout the duration of the GBD, these services will be maintained consistently with other similar areas of the city. The services, activities, and improvements funded by the GBD annual assessments are in addition to those already provided by the CCSF agencies. The GBD owners’ nonprofit corporation will work in close partnership with the CCSF agencies to ensure that the GBD’s greening goals are met in an efficient and fair manner and that GBD services do not duplicate or replace Baseline City Services and agency responsibilities. The GBD will ensure that Baseline City Services are maintained at current levels, but are redeployed in ways that complement and leverage the GBD’s resources. The GBD owners’ non-profit corporation will advocate for the neighborhood’s needs at City Hall and work to ensure that CCSF agencies meet their established agency and departmental goals. The GBD will also leverage outside public and private investment in new Public Realm areas because its requests for outside capital investment will be backed by the GBD’s ability to provide reliable and professional maintenance services.
Is THE GBD’S FORMATION ELECTION PART OF THE GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER?
No, the voting process for a GBD is a special ballot election independent of the general election, and is conducted by the Board of Elections.
IS THERE COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY AS FAR AS WHERE THE MONEY CAME FROM, WHERE THE MONEY WENT AND HOW MUCH MONEY IS IN THE BANK?
Yes. The GBD is a 501(c)(3) corporation subject to the same reporting, accounting and public transparency requirements that apply to any other tax-exempt corporation in the US. Furthermore, any GBD in San Francisco is required to submit annual performance reports to the Public Works Department, including a transparent accounting of all income and expenses. These are reviewed by Public Works and also presented to the Board of Supervisors in a public hearing. Accountability, transparency, and local control are foundational goals of the GBD concept, and they have shaped and continue to shape the formation of every new Green Benefit District.
DOES THE GBD DETRACT FROM EXISTING COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERISM?
Absolutely not. The GBD does not replace the volunteer efforts that make our parks and gardens great, but rather it makes that work easier and more productive by ensuring funding for the long term maintenance and care of these spaces.