bids/kanter/13 inches/1stjc/mark2nd By LARRY KANTER Staff Reporter Fueled with seed money from the city of Los Angeles, the organizers of 10 San Fernando Valley-based business improvement districts are engaged in intensive lobbying efforts to generate support among local business-people. Such districts, known as BIDs, are self-assessment zones in which business- and/or property-owners tax themselves to pay for local street improvements or marketing campaigns. In an era of over-burdened and cash-strapped city governments, BIDs have become a popular way to fund services that municipalities no longer are able to perform, such as street-cleaning and grafitti-removal. Ten Valley business districts have received between $65,000 and $75,000 from the city’s Community Development Department to hire consultants to study the feasibility of forming a BID. “We’re spending a lot of time with the community and property-owners, asking their opinions about what they think is best for business and how much they’re willing to pay for it,” said Donald Duckworth, a consultant whose Arcadia-based firm, Citygate Associates, is shepherding property-based BIDs in Studio City, Tarzana, Granada Hills and Canoga Park. Other districts are being formed in Northridge, Chatsworth, Reseda, Woodland Hills, Encino and Sherman Oaks. Throughout L.A. County, 10 BIDs are up and running and 20 more are in various stages of formation. BID organizers must get the support of more than 50 percent of the district’s tenants in order to receive approval from the City Council, which must sign off on all BIDs. Most Valley-based districts are likely to assess property-owners rather than small-business people many of whom operate with razor thin margins and often are reluctant to add to their tax burdens, consultants say. Property-owners, on the other hand, often have a longer term stake in their communities, which gives property-based BIDs a greater chance of survival, according to consultants. In addition, property-based BIDs have a five-year life span; business-based districts must be renewed by a majority vote every year. Few of the Valley BIDs are close to making that decision, however. Instead, consultants have been organizing a series of public meetings designed to educate people about what a BID is and what the districts can accomplish. “This is an opportunity for business-owners and local government to get creative,” said Jonathan Port, a consultant with Economic Research Associates in Westwood, which is working with nascent BIDs in Sherman Oaks and Encino. However, he added, “We’re still looking for increased involvement. No decisions have been made.” Valley business- and property-owners will be grappling with those decisions over the next few months. In fact, few of the Valley BIDs will be ready to make their pitch to the City Council for approval before the end of the summer, the consultants say.