Downtown Long Beach’s Property Based Improvement District (PBID) is the geographical area in which the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) provides enhanced maintenance, public safety, beautification, place management, marketing, and economic development programs which extend above and beyond the services provided by the City of Long Beach. This month marks the beginning of the process to renew PBID services, which ends on December 31, 2022, giving commercial and residential property owners the chance to continue funding for improvements and critical services fundamental to Downtown’s evolution for the next decade.
For the past 25 years, DLBA has been a steward of Downtown Long Beach, delivering services such as litter removal, graffiti and sticker abatement, and visitor hospitality services along with sidewalk power washing and much, much more. All of these services are delivered by the ever-present red shirt-wearing Safety Ambassadors and Clean Team members who patrol Downtown’s streets 365 days a year. The PBID was first established by Downtown property owners in 1998. Since then, property owners agreed to extend services twice, in 2003 and again in 2012, for another ten-year time period. Since the beginning, the PBID services have also included economic development, place management, special events and marketing.
With a strong foundation of more than 70 volunteers serving on its Board and Committees, DLBA’s partnerships and advocacy have resulted in greater collaborative efforts to address public safety and increase housing infrastructural improvements to the public right of way than would have otherwise existed without the PBID.
“The entire renewal process is expected to go from January 2022 to July 2022. If property owners approve the petition and vote yes on the ballot, an approved new district would start on January 1, 2023,” said Austin Metoyer, DLBA’s Economic Development and Policy Manager.
The importance of DLBA’s most visible service in the PBID — its Clean and Safe Teams — is reflected in empirical data; Last year alone, the Teams collected 85,500 pounds of trash from streets within the PBID. In addition, Clean Teams cleaned up 9,400 graffiti and sticker issues.
Clean Teams also install and maintain animal waste clean-up “Mutt Mitt” stations throughout the Downtown area. These provide free plastic dog waste bags, typically dispensing about 240,000 a year, that help reduce waste on sidewalks, enhance aesthetics and support a more positive pedestrian experience.
Another key component of the Clean Team – and highly valued among Downtown stakeholders – is the pressure washing crew, which annually services 44 million square feet of city surfaces, removing stains and gum along with human and animal waste.
“The PBID provides a significant return on investment,” said Sean Rawson, Co-Founder of Waterford Property Company and Co-Owner of City Place. “It enhances our efforts to keep sidewalks next to our property clean and safe, attracts businesses to fill vacant spaces, and brings people from across the region to discover and enjoy Downtown.”
Safety Ambassadors are the “eyes and ears” of Downtown. In the past year, the team has assisted 52,600 visitors and residents and 5,900 businesses. Ambassadors are also prolific distributors of information about activities, tourist destinations, public transit, conventions, and business resources, having passed out thousands of brochures in Downtown.
Denise Carter, a Downtown Long Beach resident and Global Vice-President of Communications and Diversity at the Downtown ad agency Designory Inc., shared her thoughts: “As a resident, I see the positive impact every day of the numerous programs and services initiated by DLBA that make our Downtown cleaner and safer.”
Downtown businesses frequently leverage DLBA’s vast social media network reach, with millions of engagements on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin. These platforms have a combined audience of more than 101,000.
During the pandemic, DLBA’s Taste of Downtown pivoted to a monthly virtual program, which gave small businesses the opportunity to remain engaged with DLBA’s followers. In total, Virtual Taste of Downtown reached an audience of 270,000.
With several financial assistance programs up and running during the pandemic, such as the Woman Owned Business Accelerator (WOBA) grant (see WOBA article), DLBA was able to link Downtown businesses to various resources to help them survive. Last year, DLBA developed and implemented 15 initiatives totaling $210,000 in available grants, funds and programs to provide economic lifelines to assist local business owners and independent contractors.
“Even as the pandemic hit, DLBA clean and safe teams showed up every day to support businesses, properties and residents during a very difficult time,” said Sheva Hosseinzadeh, VP, Coldwell Banker Commercial. “It was also great to see DLBA leading efforts to provide much-needed economic lifelines to help businesses and independent contracts survive.”
During the pandemic, DLBA also proactively distilled the fountain of fast-changing health orders from the state, county, and city into bite-size bits of information which businesses could easily understand. The information was communicated regularly through the creation of a new Stay Informed Advisory alert and several newsletters that gave access to a total of 15,000 contacts.
Throughout the year, DLBA develops and implements robust campaigns to attract local and regional visitors to Downtown. This includes sponsoring and leveraging programs around local events like the East Village Art Walk, Juneteenth, holiday shopping, and New Year’s Eve.
On the place management front, DLBA has spearheaded the creation of 52 parklets in the PBID, an innovation sparked by pandemic restrictions. Seven of these creative patio platforms will become permanent fixtures. Wayfinding is a priority expressed through different applications such as signage and sidewalk decals to assist visitors and residents in finding businesses, neighborhoods and landmarks around Downtown. Since 2012, DLBA has decorated the PBID with thousands of wreaths during the holiday season, and has placed hundreds of banners on PBID light poles which are constantly updated with DLBA marketing campaigns, such as those promoting the brand-new “One Downtown” initiative.
DLBA continues to address the many challenges inherent in its Downtown mission, and the myriad of issues presented by the pandemic and its aftermath. With a renewed PBID, stakeholders will gain the resources and momentum needed to help Downtown Long Beach overcome a difficult moment in its history and rise to its full potential as a thriving urban center.