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Vital Neighborhoods in SF through Public-Private Partnership

By Christian Watjen
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 11, 2013 Last Updated: February 12, 2013
Related articles: United States » West
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A woman and a child enjoy themselves in a parklet in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco on Feb. 11, 2013. (Christian Watjen/The Epoch Times)

A woman and a child enjoy themselves in a parklet in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco on Feb. 11, 2013. (Christian Watjen/The Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—The business revitalization model Community Benefit District has been good for neighborhoods, a recently released study by the city has shown. CBD neighborhoods have been found cleaner, safer, and more economically vital.

Community Benefit District (CDB) is a public-private partnership program where a community chooses to make a collective contribution for the improvement of their neighborhood. The property and business owners of an area vote to establish a CDB, which needs approval by the city.

“CBDs provide a critical service to neighborhoods in terms of cleaning, improving public safety, [and] rethinking how we use public spaces in ways that they could be better,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener from District 8, where two CBDs are located, on Feb. 11 at an event in Noe Valley.

The CDB ensures regular funds, paid by the property owners, for street cleaning and maintenance, security, and the beautification of the streets—like installation of benches and greenery. Additionally, many CBDs work to attract businesses, and offer community-building events.

There are currently 11 locally managed CBDs in the city, a model that has quickly grown in popularity since 2005. They range in size between 20 and 1550 properties, have been in operation between two and 14 years, and are located in the commercial corridors of various neighborhoods between Noe Valley and Fisherman’s Wharf.

It gives them ownership. It gives them pride. It gives them a great sense of belonging.

—Debra Niemann, executive director, Noe Valley Association

The Office of Economic Workforce Development impact analysis found that “on average, CBDs/BIDs outperformed citywide trends on the majority of studied indicators, including public realm cleanliness, public safety, and economic resiliency.”

Additionally, the report discovered that the CBDs remained largely unaffected by the 2007-2009 economic recession.

The analysis has counted 337 street trees planted, 25 public open spaces created, and 36 pieces of public art installed. Parklets are a common and popular sight in CBD neighborhoods.

Debra Niemann, executive director of the Noe Valley Association, stressed the qualitative aspects CBDs can bring to a neighborhood.

“It’s more than just planting trees, or putting out a park bench, or changing the street scape, or doing a parklet. The real magic of CBD happens because … it changes the feeling people have about their neighborhood. It gives them ownership. It gives them pride. It gives them a great sense of belonging.”

Board of Supervisor President David Chiu announced Monday three new CBDs that are being planned in his district along Broadway, Polk Street and in the Financial District along the Embarcadero.

“The goal for all of us … are working to make sure that San Francisco has the most amazing gems of neighborhoods for entire world and certainly for our city to enjoy and explore,” Chiu said.

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