Neighbors in the Inner Sunset did extensive research into GBDs in their effort to first understand, then to defeat, the GBD in their neighborhood. Their website remains an excellent source of background material. NoGBDtax.org, now a coalition of anti-GBD neighborhoods, finds its roots in Inner Sunset.
noGBDtax.org -- flyer
May 2019 This flyer highlights some of the most provocative reasons for opposing GBDs. It has been used to present “the other side” to neighbors, neighborhood associations, supervisors, the press, etc. The first version, delivered door-to-door, defeated the GBD in Greater Buena Vista. This latest version is updated for the current battle in Mission Dolores. Reproduction, distribution, and plagiarism is allowed and encouraged!
Independent Newspaper Reporting
May 14, 2019
April 17, 2019 Local newspaper in today's battle ground, Mission Dolores
September 9, 2018 An excellent article written by the President of the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association, after pro and con arguments were presented to the association. t dissuaded the City from pursuing a GBD in the GGH neighborhood.
March 2019 The local paper in the only neighborhood that has a GBD.
The cost to taxpayers to establish one Green Benefit District: The City promotes the creation of GBDs using taxpayer dollars, starting with a full time GBD Manager in the Department of Public Works, plus funding the formation costs of over $200,000 for one GBD.
Build Public was replaced by Placelab which then merged with SF Parks Alliance, which holds the contract for setting up the Mission Dolores GBD. (This document was obtained through a Sunshine Ordinance filing.)
April 2019 This link takes you to the MD GBD Management Plan on their website. Scroll to page 16:
“Formation Costs: During Fiscal Years 1 through 3, a total not to exceed $80,000 of the budget may be used to recover costs incurred in forming the GBD (“Formation Costs”).” And: “Formation costs eligible for recovery through assessments include reasonable costs incurred during the GBD formation process by the GBD Formation Committee’s consultant, the San Francisco Parks Alliance.”
To be clear, that is $80,000 x 3 years = $240,000! If the MD GBD passes, the GBD will reimburse up to $240,000 collected from Mission Dolores taxpayers. If the GBD fails, all SF taxpayers will foot the bill for what will be the City’s third failed attempt to establish a GBD.
The cost to taxpayers to run a Green Benefit District: By law, each GBD district must establish its own administration to collect taxes and direct activities. The administrative expenses of the Dogpatch/Potrero GBD (the only GBD in SF) ate up 35% of the revenue (tax) collected, as reported in their 990 tax form:
$698,324 Total Revenue 2017
$142,262 Total Salaries & Benefits (Includes Julienne M Christensen Executive Director salary $126,100)
$104,641 Other Admin costs (includes Advertising and Promotion $62k, meetings, insurance)
$246,903 Total Admin overhead = 35 % of total revenue
Opposition Papers, Letters, Flyers
Letter of opposition - Duboce Triangle Neigborhood Association (DTNA) August 2019
The letter and flyer were published February 18, 2019 and March 27, 2019 respectively. The flyer was delivered door-to-door throughout Mission Dolores in April 2019.
April and May 2018, Haight Ashbury Voice, Rupert Clayton, HANC Housing and Land-Use Chair. This paper provides extensive background and inside understanding of the faults of GBDs. And it is historically important: In May 2018, the first public meeting was held to sell a GBD in Greater Buena Vista. The meeting backfired because the opposition distributed this flyer which led to a concerted effort that defeated the GBD in GBV.
Roger Hofmann, Inner Sunset Action Community. A succinct table highlighting the flaws in GBD design that violate good City governance.
Sample Questions to Raise at Public Meetings
March 2019 GBD public meetings are designed to defray opposition. For the most part, these questions are intended to challenge the design and principles of the GBD in a civic, rational manner.
The Law on GBDs
A California licensed Civil Engineer creates a report that is the basis of a benefit district’s management plan. A critical aspect of the report is the engineer’s judgement on how much of the benefit district’s services provide “Special benefit” to property owners and how much provide “General benefit” to the public at large. By law, benefit district assessments may only provide “Special benefit” to those assessed. The district must raise additional funds to cover benefits it provides to the general public.
Everywhere is Union Square!
Past reports have used a deceptive measure: People in Union Square, West Portal Avenue and other commercial areas have been asked whether they live there, and if they plan to shop. Non-resident results were tallied.
Regardless of benefit district location, the reports assigned a “Special benefit” to district property owners equal to the percentage of those who planned to shop in Union Square and other commercial areas. In past reports results have not been adjusted to account for district property type – whether a district is primarily residential, or whether it contains parks, schools and other non-commercial properties that attract people from outside the district.
Using the “Everywhere is Union Square” method, past reports in San Francisco stated that district special benefit to property owners is 98.6%. To be “Safe,” the engineer rounds the figure down to 95%. To date, Engineers’ Reports have been unchallenged.
How to file a complaint against an Engineer, Land Surveyor, Geologist or Unlicensed Person
The California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists has the authority to investigate complaints of violations of the Professional Engineers Act, the Professional Land Surveyors' Act, and the Geologist and Geophysicist Act, such as fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, negligence, incompetence, breach of contract, failure to use a written contract, failure to record of survey map, aiding and abetting, violating the Codes of Professional Conduct, and practicing without a license. Enforcement actions include, but are not limited to, suspending licenses, revoking licenses, placing licensees on probation, issuing administrative citations, and referring the matter to the district attorney for criminal prosecution.
A recent court ruling regarding state benefit district law:
“…even minimal general benefits must be separated from special benefits and quantified so that the percentage of the cost of services and improvements representing general benefits, however slight, can be deducted from the amount of the cost assessed against specially benefitting properties.” Golden Hill Neighborhood Association, Inc. v. City of San Diego (2011) 199 Cal.App. 4th 416, 439.