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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023


SHELLY GARCIA Staff Reporter With a key step in the approval process cleared, Tarzana stands to become the first of 10 San Fernando Valley communities to establish a Business Improvement District. But while Tarzana’s progress is likely to encourage the other nine Valley communities that have labored for years to launch their own BIDS, it is not likely to impact those other efforts anytime soon. “Until the (Tarzana) property owners see their property values going up and the merchants benefiting, until that happens, I don’t think it will mean that much” toward encouraging other Valley BID petitioners, said Richard Hardman, executive director of the Northridge Chamber of Commerce, which is working to set up a BID in that community. Tarzana’s BID petition was certified June 10 by the Community and Economic Development Committee of the Los Angeles City Council. The petitioners will now vote on the proposal, and if the majority approve it, the proposal will move to the full City Council for final approval. Tarzana may clear that final hurdle some time this summer, but most of the other nine Valley BID petitioners are still years away from having enough signatures to qualify their proposals for consideration by the council. “It takes quite a long time to reach consensus” among business and property owners who would be required to make assessment payments to fund the BID, said Bernadette Singleton Kirkwood, business development representative for Mayor Riordan’s L.A. Business Team. BIDs are designed to make improvements that would help improve the performance of existing businesses and attract new commerce to the community. Tarzana’s BID, for example, seeks to establish a pedestrian shopping mall in the center of the community. To do that, Tarzana property owners have agreed to be assessed about 7 cents per square foot of land, plus 71 cents for every linear foot of property facing Ventura Boulevard. Getting a majority of property or business owners to agree to such payments can be very difficult; owners often want assurances, prior to joining the BID, that their payments would bring the desired results. The BID-creation efforts in Sherman Oaks and Studio City, for example, have dragged on because those communities have numerous small retailers. “We have a preponderance of small property owners, so the number you need to sign on is much larger,” said Sharon Mayer, chief field deputy to City Councilman Michael Feuer. “And then it takes convincing people it makes sense.” Alone, Tarzana’s success in launching a BID won’t convince any other communities to follow suit, but if that BID yields desired results, that could spur others to take action. “Tarzana will be a very important BID,” said Larry Kosmont, a principal with the Los Angeles-based real estate consultancy Kosmont & Associates. “If they do well, it can stand as a model.” Tarzana’s BID emerged from the realization that members of the local community were not shopping in the area. “Our demographics have money and they’re taking the money elsewhere,” said Dale Jacobs, president of the Tarzana Chamber of Commerce. “There’s a “Gap” in our community, but they go to Northridge Plaza or they go somewhere else. We’d like to have them come to our community and shop.” Tarzana’s envisioned BID improvements focus on the community’s roots. Tarzana was founded in 1927 with a land donation from Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author who created Tarzan. The proposed shopping plaza has been designed with parks for sitting and strolling complete with sculptures of jungle wildlife, exotic trees and a staff of uniformed security guards who would double as ombudsmen for the community, directing people to shops and restaurants. It’s hoped that by creating a self-contained shopping community where pedestrians could walk from stores to restaurants, consumers would forsake malls. “Shopping in Tarzana is now hit and run,” Jacobs said. “You run into The Gap and leave. You get your hair cut and leave. You go to the movies and leave.” If Tarzana’s BID succeeds, it may not only convince others to create BIDs of their own, but it could serve as a model on how to gather consensus. What Tarzana organizers learned as they went through the process was that getting the needed approvals for a BID requires a tightly focused area and sharply defined goals. Not only do communities have to gather a majority to approve a BID, the majority also must be like-minded as to how the money would be spent. “With all BIDs, you start out with a much larger area, and once you find out where people want it most, you work your way down,” said Kirkwood in Riordan’s office. “As you get smaller, you get more focused.” Tarzana began working with the idea of developing the area that extends along a five-mile stretch of Ventura Boulevard from Lindley Avenue to Corbin Avenue and included a strip north along Reseda Boulevard to Burbank Boulevard. But the final BID proposal now seeks to upgrade a one-mile stretch of Ventura Boulevard from Reseda Boulevard to Crebs Avenue. “The property owners west of Crebs and east of Reseda were not as responsive as the group in the middle,” said Dale Jacobs, president of the Tarzana Chamber of Commerce. Not surprisingly, the area that ultimately fell within the boundaries of the BID is the “heart of Tarzana, where the concentration of foot traffic is,” Jacobs said. For similar reasons, Studio City in the past month decided to reduce the size of its BID area, and Northridge has also scaled back its BID area from four miles to three miles. The other Valley communities currently trying to put BIDs together are: Granada Hills, Sherman Oaks, Chatsworth, Encino, Woodland Hills, Reseda and Canoga Park.

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