Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

The circumstances of human society are too complicated to be submitted to the rigour [sic] of mathematical calculation. - Marquis De Custine,1843.

In February of 2000, Downtown property owners decided they wanted a more clean and safe environment, one that went above and beyond the base-line services provided by the city.

In order to have better environs, Downtowners created a Property-Based Business Improvement District (PBID) administered by Clean and Safe; it would serve all the Downtown neighborhoods, except Little Italy.

We, as Downtown residents, pay an extra property tax for these additional maintenance and public safety services. It can be found on property tax assessment statements listed as “Downtown Bus Imp Dist,” ranging from $60 to several hundred dollars each year.

Now it’s time to reconsider whether we want to renew PBID for another ten years. We ask ourselves, just what are we receiving for our money?

It’s complicated.

Depending upon your neighborhood, you may see a Maintenance or Safety Ambassador working, or maybe not. You may receive your sidewalks swept, debris removed from landscape, and trees trimmed, or not. Graffiti may be removed, or not. Your sidewalks might be power washed, but probably not.

It’s complicated.

Each neighborhood requires a distinct type and level of service. Depending upon those criteria, and whether a homeowners’ association or another entity is already providing the service, or if the work is in the public right-of-way, Clean and Safe performs additional services.

It’s complicated.

Just how is the cost for these extra services determined? It’s a complicated mathematical calculation, too complicated to disclose here.

So how can you determine what services your neighborhood receives? Is it shared equally? Do you pay for services for an adjacent neighborhood? Do you want more or less services? And how about power washing the sidewalks?

I contemplate…When the calculations are so complicated does it create more complications?

Downtown residents have differing views on whether they’re seeing these additional services being provided.

As a former resident of Little Italy, Dan was well aware of the red-vested Little Italy Maintenance Team. Every day he saw the same guys sweeping the streets, picking up trash, and removing graffiti. Now a new resident in East Village, he is conscious of the need for upgraded services in his new neighborhood. Dan Larson (Union Square)

When asked about Clean and Safe, Chris didn’t know what the services were, but did know that he was charged on his property tax bill for these unknown services. Chris Warren (The Grande at Santa Fe South)

Leo has witnessed Safety Ambassadors asking homeless to move along or giving guidance to local facilities where help is provided to the individual in need. Leo Persello (Treo@Kettner)

The new Clean and Safe budget provides for all funds collected in a specific neighborhood to stay in that neighborhood, and neighborhoods’ assessments will be based solely on the services to be provided in their neighborhood. And yes, power washing is included.

For more information, contact 234-8900. - November 2004

Return to Top