The Wyndham Hotel as it currently sits. (Kevin Herrera kevinh@www.smdp.com)

Downtown property owners on Lincoln Boulevard and Colorado Avenue will get a chance to decide whether or not they want to pool money for improvements and extra service.

City Council agreed unanimously Tuesday to allow a petition-gathering process for the inclusion of portions of Colorado and Lincoln as Property Based Assessment Districts (PBAD).

Council members also agreed to chip in some taxpayer dollars to cover a small percentage of the overall costs because, city officials said, some of the upgrades will constitute a benefit to the public at large.

Lincoln Boulevard is not currently a part of the Downtown PBAD. Property owners will decide whether to create a PBAD on Lincoln from the Interstate 10 freeway to Wilshire Boulevard.

“The management plan recommends providing services and assessments similar to that of the current Downtown PBAD,” said Economic Development Manager Jason Harris, “including enhanced maintenance and ambassador services, additional marketing and beautification projects such as signage, seating, holiday decor, and planters.”

Ambassadors help visitors navigate areas of Downtown and are currently prevalent on the Third Street Promenade.

On Colorado, where the incoming Expo Light Rail will run, PBAD would add ambassadors and enhanced maintenance between Seventh Court and Ocean Avenue.

“The proposed enhanced maintenance would be in addition to the city’s base-level of maintenance services dedicated to the Colorado Esplanade,” Harris said.

The esplanade is meant to create a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare that connects the terminus station of the Expo line to Downtown, the Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier.

Signatures will have to be gathered from 40 percent of property owners, weighted by property value, in order to kick the process off. Then a majority will have to vote for the creation of the PBADs.

Council’s vote will allow Interim City Manager Elaine Polacheck to sign the petition on behalf of two City Hall-owned properties in the area.

Councilmember Sue Himmelrich said she’s seen the benefits of the districts, referring to the Bayside District, now called Downtown Santa Monica Inc.

“I did have an office in the Bayside District over the Border Grill from 1997 to 2002 and the difference that these assessments have made in the Downtown area is really remarkable,” she said.

Councilmember Gleam Davis said she was excited, calling the district “long overdue.” Noting that she often waits for the Big Blue Bus on Lincoln, she likes the idea of having the street corners monitored by ambassadors and regularly cleaned.

“I think that’s something that we’re all in favor of: To create a more walkable city,” Davis said, “and that includes Lincoln even though it remains a major automobile thoroughfare.”

City officials estimate that if the districts are approved, City Hall will pay just under $110,000 into the districts during the first year. Some of that is for the general benefits associated with the area and some of that is to cover City Hall’s share of the district: two properties on Colorado.

The budget for the Colorado overlay is estimated at $440,000 the first year. Lincoln’s budget would be $456,500 the first year.

dave@www.smdp.com

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