Newsom backs Ocean Avenue benefit district

Dan Weaver has lived in San Francisco’s Ingleside district for nearly 30 years, and has worked tirelessly as a neighborhood advocate to bring modern street lamps, better pedestrian access and landscaping to the area’s commercial corridor, Ocean Avenue. But now he’s ready to retire.

One of the founding members of the Ocean Avenue Revitalization Collaborative, Weaver told Mayor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday that the group is interested in forming a business improvement district, “so we don’t have to come out here every month and volunteer to sweep it up and clean it up. It will just be done for us.”

The words were music to the mayor’s ears, since Newsom has aggressively pushed business improvement districts — renamed community benefit districts, or CBDs, by his office — during his City Hall tenure. Under a CBD arrangement, building owners agree to pay an additional fee on property taxes for maintaining the streets, promoting the neighborhood, adding more greenery and other improvements.

Ocean Avenue business owner Walee Gon, who runs an auto repair shop and a car stereo business, said he’s interested in having a CBD to help attract more customers to the neighborhood.

“What I like about the CBD is it’s a very democratic process. It’s the merchants and the building owners that work together and make it happen,” Gon said.

The City is also a partner in the creation of CBDs. When Newsom came into office, there was only one improvement district in Union Square, but now there eight others — in the Mission, Noe Valley, Castro, Tenderloin, Fillmore, Central Market and two in Fisherman’s Wharf, according to Rich Hillis, of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

In addition to providing technical support with the legal documents, conducting feasibility studies, and facilitating community meetings in neighborhoods to promote the creation of community benefit districts, The City also provides matching funds for the effort, which can cost up to $45,000 and take up to one year to complete, Hillis said.

Newsom said it’s worth The City’s time and expense.

“It’s the kind of public-private partnership, between the community and The City, that allows us to build upon our street cleaning efforts and really create an identity for commercial corridors in The City that are unique,” Newsom said. “We need to do this in every commercial corridor.”

beslinger@examiner.com

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