WFDAC releases A Road Map for Creating a BID in the Pike District

For more than a year, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee (WFDAC) has been figuring out how to create a Business Improvement District in the Pike District. A Business Improvement District, usually called a BID, will brand and market the Pike District, ensure our community stays safe and clean, organize events, and advocate for the White Flint Area.

Yesterday the WFDAC sent to the County Council and County Executive their road map for creating a BID.  You can read their report here.  Below are the highlights of the report:

The WFDAC evaluated the Urban District model and other models for delivering enhanced commercial district services including the Business Improvement District (BID) model commonly found in the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia and the Commercial District Management Authority model found in Bethesda. The WFDAC focused on questions of governance, minimum funding required for effective services, and potential revenue.

In 2016, the WFDAC sponsored a series of focus groups that included 26 local businesses, individuals, and organizations. Individual interviews of representatives of 37 public and private entities were held in Summer 2017. The WFDAC and select partner organizations participated in a September 20, 2017 workshop to review the data collected. The results of the focus groups, interviews, and workshops shaped the content of this report.

As a result of this process, WFDAC finds that:
1. A Business Improvement District (BID) is preferred over an Urban District, Urban District Corporation, or a voluntary model. The BID model is preferred for several reasons. Among the most important reasons: participants seek to exercise a high degree of control over who governs the organization, what menu of services are delivered, and to what degree staff are accountable to stakeholders.

2. Branding and place-making are the two highest priority service areas.

3. The preferred boundary for the district would be based on the boundary of the White Flint Sector Plan. This boundary has the advantage of being consistent with a designated County planning district, thus making data collection easier, and as a Sector plan area, several projects are already in the pipeline.

4. A Montgomery County law is needed to implement the MD BID law. It is our understanding the MD BID law is not sufficient on its own to implement a BID in Montgomery County. As with Urban District Corporations, it appears that a local law is needed to provide further guidance on the powers and structure of a BID and its relationship to the County.

WFDAC Bid Report 2017

WFDAC Report_Cover Letter to the County Executive and County Council

 

Maryland Passes Bill to Make it Easier to Form a BID

The state legislature just passed a bill making it easier to form Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Montgomery County. The bill lowers from 80% to 51% the number of property owners’ signatures needed to create a BID.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee and the Greater Bethesda Chamber actively worked to pass the BID bill so that the Pike District can one day form a BID to promote and activate the White Flint area.  Friends of White Flint also supported the BID bill and supports the formation of a Pike District BID.  A BID will keep the Pike District/White Flint area clean and safe, promote local businesses, offer fun-filled activities, create a sense of place, and entice people to live and visit the White Flint area.

You can read more at Washington Business Journal and Bisnow.

Our letter in support of MC 12-17 which alters approval requirements to create a BID

March 6, 2017

Dear Senator King and Delegate Robinson:

The Friends of White Flint is a nonprofit organization composed of nearly 2,000 residents, businesses, and property owners working together to transform the White Flint area into a vibrant, walkable, smart growth community. You can learn more about us at www.whiteflint.org.

We are writing to express our support for MC 12-17 to alter the approval requirements to create and expand a Business Improvement District (BID) in Montgomery County.

Adopting a BID in Maryland currently requires the approval of 80% of individual property owners and only includes commercial property. This is an untenably high approval threshold. MC 12-17 would change the number of signatures needed for property owners to petition their local county or municipal corporation to create a BID to 51% of individual property owners and 51% of the assessed value within the proposed district. Additionally, the bill would allow multi-family residential real property to benefit from the services a BID provides.

A BID in the White Flint area is critical if we are to create a successful transit-oriented, smart urban community. BIDs have proven their value time and time again, especially in the competing jurisdictions of Washington, DC and Virginia. The services provided by a BID supplement existing government services to enhance public safety, market and promote a community, offer neighborhood beautification, and improve infrastructure.

We strongly support the passage of MC 12-17 because it would not only help facilitate the formation of a BID in the Pike District/White Flint area but would also give Montgomery County the much-needed ability to more effectively provide essential economic development, marketing and placemaking services.

Thank you in advance for supporting MC 12-17.

Sincerely,

Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director

cc: Montgomery County Delegation

White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee supports BID legislation

The following letter was provided to the Montgomery Country Delegation, the Honorable Nancy King and the Honorable Shane Robinson, by the the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee on December 5th, 2016.

 

Dear Senator King and Delegate Robinson,

I am writing to you on behalf of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee to express the Committee’s strong support for MC 12-17, to alter the approval requirements to create and expand a Business Improvement District (BID) in Montgomery County. We thank Delegate Will Smith for his leadership on this important legislation.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee was charged by the County Executive and County Council to make recommendations on the eventual establishment of an urban services district in the White Flint Sector Plan Area, also known as the Pike District. Our committee includes local residents, businesses, and property owners.

After reviewing the tools available to accomplish this, we believe BIDs are a proven model to supplement existing government services and enhance public safety, marketing and events, neighborhood beautification, and infrastructure. BIDs are the future of economic development and have swept across the nation in the last few decades. BIDs are successful because they place these important services in the hands of local stakeholders. Unfortunately, the current 80% approval requirement makes forming a BID a daunting task and none have been formed in the state since the original legislation in 2010.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee strongly supports MC 12-17 because it will facilitate the formation of BIDs in Montgomery County and provide the County a real mechanism to compete with D.C. and Virginia in terms of economic development, marketing, and place-making.

MC 12-17 changes the approval requirement to 51% of individual property owners AND 51% of the assessed value within the proposed district. This lower requirement puts us in line with BIDs in the District of Columbia and Virginia. Additionally, the bill allows rental residential properties – a commercial use – to benefit from BID services.

In addition, we respectfully request two edits to improve the governance provisions in the legislation. The legislation currently specifies that a BID would have five (5) Board members, with three (3) Board members required for a quorum. We think this should be revised to allow flexibility in determining the appropriate size of a Board based upon specific circumstances, as follows:

1. Sec. 12-605(B)(1) currently provides that a Board “consists of five members.” (See Page 4, Line 22). We would propose that a Board “consists of a minimum of five members.”

2. Sec. 12-605(D)(1) currently provides, “Three voting members of the Board are a quorum,” (See Page 5, Line 3). We would propose, “A majority of members of a Board are a quorum.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Thomas D. Murphy

Chair