Fresno County Denies Support for Downtown Fresno Improvement District

Image of downtown Fresno via wikipedia user JMora24

The Downtown Fresno Partnership is looking to renew its home improvement and business district, but Fresno County’s membership remains a struggle.

The Downtown Fresno Property and Business Improvement District was first established in 2010 when the City of Fresno passed a resolution of intent to form the Property and Business Improvement District. Its aim was to provide economic improvements, clean and safe initiatives and transportation improvements for the benefit of businesses in the region. It would be funded by assessments of landowners in the district.

Due to the large footprint of buildings owned by Fresno County, their support would get the partnership the necessary signatures for renewal, but the supervisory board decided on Tuesday not to speak, remaining neutral. Historically, the board has taken a neutral stance vis-à-vis the limited partnership. In the past, other owners have provided enough favorable ballots in favor of renewing the PBID. Still, the board praised Cerracchio’s efforts and presentation for the renewal.

This is the third chance that the support has turned neutral.

The renewal vote still has the opportunity to move forward organically thanks to the petition signatures of the owners.

If the supervisory board signed the petition, it would push the Improvement District towards 50% approval on the petition.

Jimmy Cerracchio, president and CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, said the PBID tenure is longer this time around. Previous renewals have been for seven-year terms. In the event of renewal, it will have a duration of ten years, extending from January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2032.

Cerracchio said the term is extended because the money spent to renew the program costs up to $ 75,000 to $ 80,000, which saves costs in the long run.

Cerracchio told the board that the Downtown Fresno Partnership plays an important role in keeping the life and cleanliness of downtown Fresno. The Improvement District showcased its efforts to mitigate litter, graffiti, vandalism and property crime. The district is highlighting its support for economic development, including marketing, grants and helping to navigate city processes.

“We were the ones who helped prevent these buildings from being broken into,” he said.

It prevents homeless settlements, communicates regularly with the police and attracts new businesses. With Covid restrictions fading into the background, events are returning as well.

“We’re kind of the catalyst to make sure these things keep happening,” Cerracchio said.

But the supervisory board said contributing more than $ 50,000 in assessments would be too much money per year. Supervisor Brian Pacheco said the county is already paying money to serve downtown Fresno, and the money would be a duplicate tax source.

“For me, it’s paying double for something we’ve already done,” said Pacheco. “I can’t in good conscience give an extra $ 50,000 for something we’ve already done.”

Cerracchio said the city has a service base, but the downtown partnership goes beyond.

“A strong downtown is going to make Fresno County stronger,” he said.

Supervisor Nathan Magsig opted for neutrality in order to keep the county’s “weighty” voice in the matter. He said the county should remain neutral so that the owners of downtown Fresno are the driving force.

The county is the largest real estate owner, counting buildings in square feet, with the prison being the largest.

Renewal of the improvement district requires the submission of petitions from owners representing more than 50% of the assessed properties. The Downtown Fresno Association serves as the Homeowners Association for the Improvement District and is responsible for managing the funds according to the plan, submitting an annual report to the City of Fresno.

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