Thursday, January 15, 2009

Join or die!

Todays Bulletin, Business page.

DOWNTOWN BEND BUSINESS ASSOCIATION WANTS A NEW FEE STRUCTURE.

"Downtown Bend businesses that are not members of the Downtown Bend Business Association could see a spike in their Economic Improvement District fees this spring, while those that are members would see their fees drop under a new plan proposed at a regular monthly meeting Wednesday."

WAIT! They can do that? They can charge non members -- non voting members -- more money for not being part of their club?

Lots of us moved Downtown instead of the mall to avoid interference by the Mall Rules.

What next? Are they going to dictate our hours? Tell us what kind of Christmas decorations to put up?

"If supported by at least two-thirds of downtown property owners and passed by the Bend City Council in March, the new three-year EID levy would require all downtown businesses to pay for membership in the association, said Chuck Arnold, executive director."

I'm stunned they even have the power to do this. I didn't ask anything of them. Indeed, I've often wished they just stop doing anything at all. I think the days we need a quasi-governmental organization Downtown to promote things are over. I'd just as soon skip the street closures and the rest.

"EID fees pay for all those things that a visitor to downtown Bend might take for granted, including flower baskets, holiday lights and snow removal. Events organized by the association, such as Art Hop, Oktoberfest and sidewalk sales, also would be in jeopardy if the extension of the EID is not passed."

Oh, my God! We might lose the flower baskets? That changes everything.

Sidewalk sale? All you do is have a Sidewalk Sale! Don't need a tax for that!

Look, I'll decorate the tree in front of my place. I promise. A few bucks and few hours a year, I can do that. I don't need Big Brother to do it. Snow removal? I'm also paying my landlord through triple net for that service, but you know what?

I'VE BEEN REMOVING THE SNOW! Either they are showing up way past the point of usefulness, or they aren't showing up at all. Either way, no big loss. In fact, it's a perfect example of why I wish they would butt out. If I clear the sidewalk, the sun almost inevitably creates bare sidewalks. If they throw that damn chemical on the snow, whatever the evil poisonous concoction it is, the snow turns into glop and sticks around forever, coming into my store and creating little grey sculptures on my carpet. Please....no CHEMICAL!

Not my choice, apparently.

Art Hop? If the businesses who benefit from this -- and any business that closes before 6:00 doesn't -- then let THEM support it.

As I've said, I'd just as soon NEVER close the streets. But now I also will have to Pay for the privilege of losing money on those days.

If there isn't enough volunteer interest to keep the Tree Lighting, and the Christmas Parade, and the Fourth of July Parade going, then they are done.

I doubt very much that is what would happen, though. I think there is enough civic pride to keep the tradition events going just fine.

But forcing us to be part of an organization that we chose not to be part of, seems an odd move.

"....would be in jeopardy if the extension of the EID is not passed, Arnold said. So would the executive director's salary."

I like Chuck Arnold, I think he's done a good job, but this appears to me to be a money grab, to keep his own job alive. Sorry. That's what it looks like. It's a really bad time to be adding to my rent, by the way.

Looks to me as though they've lined up 60% of the downtown owners as members, and they have a pro real estate city council and they can ram this down the non-members throats. (With the nice little incentive that their own fees will go down as a reward.) Gee, I wonder how that will go.

They've tried things like this before. The infamous "BLUE STRIPE" that was going to run from fountain below Hospital Hill and running down to the river that would've require the sidewalks be pulled up. Or the idea of putting camera's on every street corner and hiring a private police force. These were bad ideas at the time, and even worse ideas in hindsight.

"Downtown Bend Business Association members, comprise about 60% of the estimated 200 downtown businesses, pay the association dues that benefit the entire downtown..."

Benefit the entire downtown? Says who? Says the 60%? What about the 40% who chose not to be members? We don't think so, obviously.

I'd love to add up the years of the non-members vs the members and see who has more seniority. Just the two businesses quoted in opposition in the paper, plus me, represent businesses with over 80 years experience in total.

But hey, what do we know?

I went to a meeting once, where they wanted to change the organizational slogan to "The Village by the River." It was an asinine slogan. I couldn't believe it, but there they were all nodding their heads.

Even further back, they wanted to turn Downtown in into a paved mall: Which would have been the death of downtown. And what I remember was, it was the outsiders, the oldtimers, the old reprobates who raised a clamor and got that voted down.

If I choose not to be part of their group think, I think that should be my right.

The original EID was not only a good idea, but it was necessary. Downtown was in sad shape. But it was about infrastructure -- things like sidewalks, streetlamps, trees, and important things.

It was NOT about flower baskets.

I think the EID has outlived it usefulness and is turning into a self-protecting organization.

It appears that Compass Commercial, who are my property managers, are solidly behind this. I suspect that I AM ALREADY PAYING MY LANDLORD THROUGH INCREASED AAA for their membership in the EID; so what it looks like to me, is that I'll be paying TWICE.

I will also say, all other things being equal, I think making non-voting, voluntarily non-members with HIGHER fees and current members with LOWER fees is outrageous adn the Achilles Heel of the whole proposal. I don't see how anyone could think that was fair.

7 comments:

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

You had best better get all your fellow cranks together and nip this nonsense in the bud -- and start now, don't wait for the council meeting to begin complaining. Otherwise, they will worm their way into mix and you will be paying tons of money to support what is essentially a private club.

tim said...

>>I like Chuck Arnold, I think he's done a good job, but this appears to me to be a money grab, to keep his own job alive. Sorry. That's what it looks like. It's a really bad time to be adding to my rent, by the way.

Chuck's been struggling to keep his job alive as long as I've known him. Hard to blame the guy. Who doesn't try to keep his job? He's got wife & kids, after all.

As for the paved mall, well, that's been tried elsewhere. You get beggars and hoodlums hanging out on the benches. Then shoppers become intimidated and stop coming by. Eventually, the road gets reopened and business miraculously improves.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

OMG you finally put your wife's blog on your sidebar.

Maybe now there's a tiny chance you'll stop by my blog and get some nice sidebar graphics to dress your blog up a bit!

tim said...

Penniwig,

I love the spartan look for Dunc's blog. Now that he's putting the effort in to do some subheads, I have no complaints.

Adam Hadsall said...

I can almost picture a Queen Amidala-esque vote of no-confidence on the issue, forcing the surprise election of a supreme evil emperor. Sounds like just another damned-if-you-do downtown issue. I sympathize with any and all small business owners that deal with yearly shenanigans of this caliber.

Jack Elliott said...

Heh. Looks like your Join Or Die post caught the eye of The Source. Howz it feel to be called "one of the best ranters on the Bend blogging scene"?

http://www.tsweekly.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3791&Itemid=71

Michael said...

Bend is fascinating. Encapsulating the entire nation in one small town.

Good luck fighting back without spending thousands on a lawyer. Another option is gathering all the non members and go to EVERY council meeting.

Leading a protest march would also be interesting. I do believe you are going to become a focus of change if you like it or not. Fight the good fight.