We got email the other day asking if we were considering a PBID (Property and Business Improvement District) for Arden Arcade. The email referred to an article in the Sacramento News and Review that had good things to say about PBIDs. The Fulton Avenue Association is an example of a successful PBID. The County has recently promoted another PBID for an area at nearby Watt Avenue north of I-80.
PBIDs do indeed have value. The Fulton Avenue Association, for example, has been able to upgrade Fulton Avenue's appearance, put on community events, etc. One can certainly hope the new PBID at Watt Ave. will experience similar success.
The thing about PBIDs, though, is their value is extremely limited. PBIDs serve their member businesses, and they do so through direct assessments of their members. The members are represented by a Board of Directors chosen from member businesses. Being member-driven, PBIDs are thus responsive to their members' needs.
So, PBIDs don't have high motivation to extend their benefits to non-member businesses or to homeowners or residents of adjacent neighborhoods. And those non-members don't sit on the Board of Directors, meaning they have no voice. For residents and non-member businesses, then, improvement of the broader community is thus dependent on the kindness of someone else. That's not a good formula for long-term, community-wide success.
Cities, on the other hand, have resources that aren't available to unincorporated areas--including representation that's close to constituent businesses AND residents a well as the ability to create and implement a strategic, community-driven vision for local development via the local General Plan. You don't have to look far to see how new cities in our region have improved themselves. Take a drive eastward on Greenback from I-80 for example--you can notice a distinct difference once you exit the City of Citrus Heights and travel into unincorporated Orangevale. A few years ago Citrus Heights was just another chunk of the UnCity. It was like Arden Arcade, except it didn't have the depth and variety of commercial businesses found in Arden Arcade. And it had a bit smaller population. By becoming a city, Citrus Heights took charge of its own destiny and turned things around.
Incorporation has been a huge success for Citrus Heights. The City has revitalized its local economy, improved public safety and upgraded the community's infrastructure. The City of Rancho Cordova incorporated a few years after Citrus Heights. Rancho Cordova followed the Citrus Heights model and has enjoyed similar success. There is every reason to expect a like outcome in Arden Arcade if incorporation would happen here.