Business Improvement Districts are the Way to Go!

Business Improvement Districts are the Way to Go!
By Gary Wartik
February 22, 2014

While the American economy has been in official recovery mode for more than two years, many local governments continue to deal with a shortage of tax revenue to meet general and infrastructure needs, maintain and upgrade facades and streetscapes, maintain clean and safe streets and pay for upgraded basic services.  The advent of the business improvement district (“BID”) in 1996 created the legislature to offer a method by which commercial property owners, business owners and others can assess themselves, in a fair, democratic and structured process, to help fill in the gaps where local government leaves off.

Vision Economics has significant experience in the formation and operation of business improvement districts.  One of the new variations on the BID process is the Tourism Business Improvement District.  During 2011 this office assisted in the creation, and then the management of the Ventura County Lodging Association (“VCLA”), serving the 55 hotels in the cities of Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura.  The VCLA was formed for a different purpose than the usual BID; it was about generating funds to promote local tourism.  The VCLA, which operates as “Ventura County West,” now has a full-time director and will generate, through its 1.5 percent guest-room assessment, more than $1.5 million during 2014 with which to promote local hotels (visit the website at “” to see how a robust TBID looks). The TBID effort has also increased the collection of transient occupancy taxes (“TOT”) by local jurisdictions and additional sales taxes resulting from increased spending by tourists.  The cumulative result of the process is to serve as one of the boosters of the local economy.

The BID formation process is one involving time, patience and persuasion, not to mention meeting California’s very specific legal requirements.  Vision Economics has teamed with New City America, based in San Diego to ensure that state requirements are met in creating BIDs of all types.

New City America is the leader in the formation of BIDs throughout the United States.  Marco Li Mandre, president of New City America outlines below the firm’s 15 years of experience in helping create formats for a stronger local economy.  We invite your review of the services of New City America in partnership with Vision Economics to bring jurisdictions and business and property owners, with a common purpose together in the effort to strengthen local business activities and the local economy.  Services include management of BIDs, either newly formed or more established entities.

Please see the summary information below offered by Mr. Li Mandre.



By Marco Li Mandre

Since 1996, New City America has been a national leader in the formation of, and consultant to Business Improvement Districts, Community Benefit Districts and Tourism Business Improvement Districts. Some highlights of the work accomplished includes:

1. Formation of 71 assessment districts nationwide in the past 15 years, with up to 4 additional districts anticipated to be completed by the end of the summer of 2014;

2. Formation of more districts in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland than any other professional firm;

3. Formation of more BIDs in ethnic business districts than any other firm nationwide. For example, San Diego’s Little Italy district is a national leader in use of the assessment districts to spur revitalization;

4. Conducted BID support campaigns in multiple languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean;

5. Formed BIDs or CBDs in areas as diverse as San Francisco’s Tenderloin District and Fisherman’s Wharf;

6. Formed the largest assessment district of its kind, the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District, generating over $25 million in annual reveneu;

7. Formed Tourism Improvement Districts nationwide in San Francisco, Anaheim, Seattle, Newark, New Jersey. Also consulted on TID formation in Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix, Baltimore and Dallas;

8. New City America CEO Marco Li Mandri has spoken at trade conferences including the International Downtown Association, the California Downtown Association, the California League of Cities (City Manager’s Conference), the National Main Street National Conference, Smart Growth Massachusetts, the Pennsylvania Downtown Association and the Illinois Main Street Association;

9. Advised and consulted on multiple existing District Management Corporations which run BIDs. New City America has advised the Boards on goals, conflict resolution, expansion of members, committee restructuring, revenue enhancement, branding, web site development, newsletter creation and implementation of more efficient operations;

10. Led in the creation of new ordinances adopted in 17 California Charter cities that allow for longer term districts with more reasonable petition drives and managed by public benefit corporations;



New City Public Spaces was created as a separate corporation by New City America to work within the public realm for existing districts and to help cities envision the development and management of public spaces.  Marco Li Mandri, Principal, sits on the Leadership Council of the Project for Public Spaces, the leading organization of its type worldwide on public space creation.  New City Public Spaces provides the following services:

  • Review of public rights of way operations and consulting on creating greater efficiencies of services;
  • Development of new small public space and their management;
  • Development of outdoor branding;
  • Development of creating themes and enhancing the history of areas through public art;
  • Implementation on the reduction of sidewalk impediments including newsracks and obsolete poles;
  • Parking management and maximization of on street parking;

The creation of new public spaces, coupled with dynamic retail and mixed use areas are the key to the future success of our urban areas.  New City America and New City Public Spaces, in cooperation with Vision Economics, can provide these services to proposed, existing and currently problematic BIDs and assessment districts.  Please call Gary Wartik at Vision Economics at 805-987-7322, or Marco Li Mandre at New City America at 619-233-5009 for additional information.  You may also visit us at our websites, and

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