Market benefit district sought

Market Street property owners bordering the Tenderloin district hope to form a community benefit district in an effort to clean the area up and decrease crime, but critics say it will result in an unjust attack on the homeless.

For more than two years, a group of tenants and property owners have worked to establish a community benefit district for the area along the south side of Market Street between Fifth and Ninth streets. They complain of incidents of aggravated assaults, the smell of urine and aggressive panhandling, which they blame for storefront vacancies and fewer customers for the area’s small businesses.

A community benefit district assesses a tax on property owners within the prescribed area. The property owners then decide how to spend that money to improve the area — often using it for security, sidewalk cleanup and façade improvements. The district can be formed with a majority vote of the property owners.

In its first year, the community benefit district for the central Market area would generate more than $500,000, with a majority of the money earmarked for law enforcement.

Community-based groups, such as the Coalition on Homeless, have lobbied against the CBD, saying it focuses too heavily on law enforcement.

A resolution authorizing a vote by property owners on whether to form the CBD was approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, following a last-minute amendment introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes the central Market area.

The amendment stipulated that for every dollar spent on hiring off-duty police officers, a dollar would have to be spent on social programs. It also decreased membership of the board that would be in charge of the district from 15 to 10, and stipulated that half would not be property owners, a first for the city’s community benefit districts, of which there are now seven.

But the “compromise” may jeopardize the formation of the benefit district.

“It’s going to be a challenge to get it approved by the property owners because it’s a substantial change from where we started,” said Michael Yarne,development director at Martin Building Co., which owns four buildings in the area.

Property owners will vote whether to form the district on Oct. 31.

IN OTHER ACTION INVESTIGATION CALLED FOR: Supervisor Fiona Ma called for a hearing to investigate why the Department of Environment solicited city employees in a recent mass e-mailing to join the private corporation FlexCar when The City “has made a substantial investment in City CarShare,” a nonprofit group.

HEARING PROPOSED FOR LOSS OF HOUSING MONEY: Supervisor Tom Ammiano called for a hearing to determine what the impacts will be and how The City will cope with an expected loss of $6 million next year in federal money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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