Coast Village Road News
Last week property owners on Coast Village Road – 94 of them to be exact – received a formal petition for the proposed Coast Village Community Benefit Improvement District (CBID), an idea brought forth by the Coast Village Association (CVA) nearly two years ago. The goal of the CBID, which is funded by property owners as an additional property tax assessment, is to take control of the street’s aesthetics, safety, and marketing ventures, filling the gaps in service from the City of Santa Barbara, which governs Coast Village Road. “This will embellish upon what the City provides,” said CVA board president Bob Ludwick, adding that the desolate medians on the road that the City will not enhance due to a lack of budget, are just one of the many items that need improvement.
The City Council unanimously voted to approve an enabling ordinance related to moving forward with the CBID last March, and now there is a two-step process to work through, the first of which is in motion currently. This first step consists of a mail-in ballot of landlords agreeing to have a formal plan submitted to the City for consideration and a subsequent ballot to landlords circulated. The properties on the street are weighted according to parcel size, frontage length, and building size. In order to meet the first threshold, 30% or more of the weighted votes need to agree to move to the “ballot stage” of the process. At the ballot stage, 50%+1 of the weighted ballots returned will establish the district. Ludwick, along with CVA Vice President Rob Miller and Board Members Trey Pinner, Rick Lemmo, Francois DeJohn, and property owner Jeff Harding, have been working through the CBID process, with the help of consultant New City America, which has helped groups like the CVA form CBIDs across the country, including San Diego’s Little Italy and Los Angeles’ Chinatown.
On Coast Village Road, the expected assessments range from a few hundred dollars per year to $19,000 per year, with the average falling around $1,800. The lowest assessments are for the condo owners at 1220 Coast Village Road (those range from $125-$162 per year), with the highest single assessment at Villa Fontana, which has the most frontage and square footage on the road. Some property owners have said they intend to pay the tax themselves, while some have indicated that they will pass along the fees to their tenants. “It’s up to each of them individually how they handle it,” Ludwick explained. While Ludwick says he expects to meet the threshold of 30% of the weighted votes to move forward in the process, there has been some pushback from property owners who don’t fully understand where the money will go, or feel that it’s unnecessary.
A summary of the CBID management plan was included with the petition. If all goes as planned, and the CBID is approved, the funds – which total about $300K the first year – will be used for private security to help with the unhoused population and panhandlers in the area; much needed beautification of the road, including tree and vegetation maintenance, maintenance of existing and new public spaces, improvement of decorative amenities like benches and fixtures, regular sidewalk and gutter sweeping and steam cleaning, enhanced trash services, timely graffiti removal, installation and maintenance of hanging plants, and planting flowers throughout the district; branding and promotion of the road; events such as Taste of Coast Village; social media and marketing; parking attendants; traffic management; and more. The area has been hit hard the last few years, with the Thomas Fire and debris flow closures, the pandemic closures, and the steep increase in vehicular traffic caused by the closure of the freeway entrance at Hot Springs. Outdoor dining “parklets,” which were erected in June 2020 in response to the pandemic, will now be allowed through 2023, further tightening the lack of parking on the road, and upcoming highway construction and work to build a roundabout at the east end of the road will be the next big hurdles for businesses to overcome.
Since its resurrection about six years ago, the Coast Village Association has worked to promote business along the street through social media campaigns and events, including the popular Taste of Coast Village in 2019 and the Virtual Cash Mob event at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown in 2020, in addition to annual holiday decorating contests, member mixers, and more. Ludwick describes the CBID as a way to ensure the continuance and extension of the CVA’s important work, which will greatly benefit the businesses as well as the property owners – and their property values – along the road. If the CBID is approved, the Coast Village Association Board will increase in size to accommodate more property owners, business owners, and community members, in order to manage the district and determine where the funds are spent. The assessment will be probationary for the first five years, and then lengthen to a 20-year term. “Basically if owners think we aren’t doing a good job, or that it’s not worth the money they are paying, they can vote to end the CBID,” Ludwick explained.
This won’t be the first time a business-oriented group has created such an improvement district on the road. The street improvements that still stand today, including the separate parking aisles with diagonal parking, the medians, and signage, were built in 1968 via an improvement assessment spearheaded by Michael Towbes and the Coast Village Road Improvement Association. Back then, the road, once called Old Coast Highway, was transformed into an approachable and attractive business district through funds raised from property owners who agreed to assess their properties for an additional annual amount added to their property taxes. “By collectively contributing to this fund, all properties, businesses, visitors, and locals will benefit from enhanced operations and aesthetics,” Ludwick told us last year when the City approved moving forward with the idea. The Management Plan will be reviewed and approved by the City Council and City Attorney before it is implemented.
When the minimum 30% weighted petition threshold is reached, the City Council will consider adopting a “Resolution of Intent” to mail out ballots to all property owners in the proposed CBID. Ballots would be mailed to property owners in late April or early May and the ballots will be due to be returned by the public hearing, scheduled to be held by the end of June.
For more information about the CVA and the proposed CBID, visit www.coastvillageroad.com.