Other Voices: Now a good time to shut down BID | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Now a good time to shut down BID

The issue of the Nevada City Business Improvement District continuing will go before the City Council at its meeting on Monday.

This whole Business Improvement District scheme was railroaded through from start to finish. Last year’s City Council was all but 100 percent behind it. (The exception was the always one voice of reason then on the council, Steve Cottrell.) The council would not consider any point other than that of their BID group. The BID chairperson said the council would not pursue the plan unless at least 80 percent of the businesses supported it.

The City Council also stated it would not endorse the BID if those approving were not in a significant majority – it wasn’t even close. The BID group disqualified some legitimate business people within the boundaries in order to make it look like the group had 50 percent.

This year, the group is billing some of those same business people for an assessment, a classic case of taxation without representation.

The Business Improvement District scheme was a hairbrained idea. There was no viable plan or sound reasoning in its formation. The proponents could never find another town as small as Nevada City to use as a model. They compared us to Berkeley, Chico, Davis, Napa, Palo Alto and other much larger cities. (All of those cited were more than three times larger than Nevada City). The analysis for the assessments was “Oh, make it the price of a cup of coffee a day. Anyone can afford that.”

Can you imagine corporate America making decisions this way? None of the group that formed the BID had any organizational skills and refused to pay attention to what hired professionals told them. All of them said there was either no need for a BID or that if they pursued the idea, they would require almost the all of the business community behind it.

This was a small clique that wants to put forward their agenda at the expense of the majority without benefit of a vote. Protests are the only avenue of recourse for those opposed, and when they are gathered, the BID supporters go around and get them to sign forms that negate their protest.

Some business people are also afraid to sign a protest for fear of either retaliation from the city or being boycotted by other business establishments. Or they think that by not signing a protest, they are staying neutral. In fact, other than a protest, silence is a vote in favor of the BID.

This is one of the worst pieces of legislation to come out of our government.

It is obvious that the BID wants to get rid of small business in Nevada City. Along with all the shenanigans to put forth the BID, there were also many arrogant and unprofessional tactics and decisions made by the committee involved.

For one, the effect on the half dozen or so “mom and pop” merchants, such as us, was never even considered. These merchants are too small and do not generate enough capital to afford employees. They are owned and operated solely by themselves.

This was brought to the attention of the forming committee, as well as the City Council, on several occasions and was completely ignored. These merchants cannot afford to pay the same as a business that is much larger and generates much more income.

Is it fair to charge us the same as Asylum Down or only 28 percent less than Friar Tucks or others three-and-a-half times more than an attorney? These decisions were both discriminatory and elitist in nature.

We were told by one of the first and major proponents of the BID that if it passed, our business would increase by at least 30 percent. Instead, our business is down. This group sees the BID as a magic cure for more business. It is very provincial and its members think that Nevada City is the only place where the economy is down. Business is tough everywhere.

During the past 40 years, it has been this Business Improvement District scheme that has done the most to divide the business community. It has caused substantial animosity, ruined friendships and completely destroyed unity. How can anything so divisive be good for the community?


Gary J. Stollery is the owner of Brigadoon Books doing business as Toad Hall Book Shop in Nevada City.

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