13 thoughts on “Boost to Local BID Has Some Inwood Rezoning Skeptics Worried

  1. I agree with Sandra Schaller.
    Fighting a bad rezoning when there exists a viable alternative – the Uptown United Platform – is occupying Inwood residents right now.
    I am sad to read that the WAHI BID thinks it should expand to include Inwood.

    • Just for the record, the BID is not on record saying that it wants to expand. It did not comment for this story.

  2. BIDs in The Bronx like the Jerome Avenue BID and The Hub at 161st and 3rd Avenue did not facilitate a displacement of local residents. They expedited graffiti removal, sidewalk cleaning, organized community block parties, and employed local under employed residents.

  3. This article is mighty loose with the facts. Would it have been so difficult to have interviewed people knowledgeable about these tools who don’t bring an agenda to the table? Spreading falsehoods is not journalism. City Limits – you can and must do better! A few examples…

    “If property values rise so do fees for a BID”
    Every BID calculates assessments differently – not all use property values to determine assessments. Sometimes linear frontage is used, or square footage. Often a mix of inputs determine BID assessment rates. Moreover BID assessment increases have to be approved by City’s council. It doesn’t happen automatically. These budget increases are part of a public process.

    “Once a BID is introduced into a black and brown neighborhood it flips”
    Tell this to the small outer borough BIDs that are struggling and have very small assessments. If a BID with a small budget were the thing “flipping a neighborhood” it would probably be a more popular tool! This statement ignores regional market dynamics that impact where people move and why. That is what makes a “neighborhood flip”. In fact, NYU Furman did a comprehensive study a few years ago that found that small BIDs have no impact on property values. In most places, BIDs help keep streets cleaner, remove graffiti and maybe do some marketing in service of small businesses and an improved quality of life for people who live there.

    “The city is not contemplating zoning tools like small stores sizes or limits on chain stores”
    This statement assumes these tools work and the City fails to institute them out of malice, when in fact these tools have been used with very limited success. In fact one could argue that they often bring unintended consequences and sometimes undermine the intended outcomes. On the Upper West Side the store size limit create a scarcity of larger stores (which by law had to be grandfathered in) and small businesses who happen to be located in these larger spaces face rent increased when their leases are up. Why would the City pursue polices that do this? They don’t. They learn from past mistakes and try not to repeat them. Other examples include store size limits that attempted to “save” Germantown on the Upper East side. Did that happen? No. Why use blunt policy tools that do very little to advance a cause? This is why the City has leaned heavily on non-regulatory tools (like SBS programs) over the years.

    Articles like these really undermine City Limits credibility as a credible source of urban news.

    • The point about differing assessment models is an interesting one. It is true that some BIDs use different bases, or a mix of bases including property value, in their assessment. However, if a BID assessment does include property value, and property values rise, then I think the BID fee would rise automatically, without Council approval, which is needed when the formula itself is changing. Right?

      The other two statements are quotes from different sources. You can disagree with those sentiments if you like, but our including the viewpoints of stakeholders does not constitute fake news.

      • No one ever said fake news! Only that this could have been presented in a journalistic manner with input from both sides and more detail that would improve the accuracy of the information. It reads as an opinion piece. That feedback is quite different than suggesting it is fake news.

      • BIDs are only allowed to assess up to a cap. Even if property values rise, the total assessment stays at the cap, which is a City Council approved number. In order for the total assessment to be increased, BIDs must seek approval from City Council. So no, there is no automatic rise in BID fees as property values increase. While formulas do include property values, the total assessment is shared across all properties in the BID, up to the cap. That “sharing” is also part of the assessment formula. Does that make sense?

    • I agree with your comment on assessments (“fees”). This is exactly what I said during the interview. Furthermore, I clarified that I could not make this determination for New York City because I did not know what the assessment formulas were. In DC, some BID assessment formulas are indeed pegged to assessed values so BID budgets rise with property values.

      Also, did not say that rezonings and BIDs are necessarily related. Instead I said BID organizing often accompany rezonings to market neighborhoods as is the case in Inwood.

      The way I look at BIDs is from a institutional perspective and a regime perspective. BIDs don’t act alone, they act in consort with other public and private institutions to promote placemaking. In my work, I call this “BID urbanism”. In DC BID’s were instrumental actors in the transformation of the city. From my perspective BIDs there oiled the gentrification machine. I think the questions to ask here are who gets to form BIDs and in what context and who gains from organizing a BID and who? And, ultimately who gets to make decisions on the activities they pursue? They are by design vehicles that are primarily run by landlord because at least a majority of the board has to be property owners. That means from my perspective they have a democratic deficit that is already built into them. But, they continue to be marketed as “business” organizations.

      The other question I asked was whose interests a BID will serve if one is organized in Inwood? In terms of the of the Inwood rezoning I asked how SBS will concretely advocate for Inwood’s small businesses when the rezoning paves the way for major redevelopment on the neighborhood’s commercial corridors, and many of the businesses sit in “soft sites.”

  4. It’s interesting the majority of the board members of BIDs are property owners when property owners are the ones that have been closing down our mom and pop shops and are hungry for a reZoning in Inwood.
    Isn’t there a conflict of interest there?
    Also, just want to point out that without legislation to protect small businesses (like the SBJSA), lawyers that the SBS (located at 619 Throop Ave Brooklyn NY) have provided are stonewalled by landlords when they try to negotiate leases because landlords know there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. They have no conscious. “It nothing personal, it’s just business.”
    My experience has been that landlords don’t just want their commercial space back from 30 and 40 year businesses but the take back is done in such a way as to crush the business owners by giving the business owners 2 months notice and sometimes surprising them with a Marshall with an order to vacate. It’s brutal!!

  5. ‘“In relation to BIDs, they have a concept of wanting to clean up the streets and make it more pristine.’

    How awful!

  6. I have no problem with an Inwood BID, especially since Inwood’s commercial streets are demonstrably among the dirtiest in the city when it comes to litter. It’s not necessarily gentrification to simply be able to walk down the street without being ashamed to be living in a landfill. Sometimes people just want a mechanism for picking up the trash.

    Many residents have in fact been asking for a BID for some time, and nearly got one around 2012 when La Marina’s backers took over the initiative. However, that turned out to be a ruse as part of getting approvals to operate in a manner very different from their concession contract, and once they were open with their grossly illegal valet parking and such they abandoned the BID efforts so nothing came of it.

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