Councilman Eric Garcetti earlier this week introduced a City Council motion supporting the creation of a business improvement district to help pay for additional cleaning, security and promotion of Echo Park’s commercial district. The motion comes after the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce last year began to ask local businesses to donate as much as $1,500 each to help pay for the cost to study and start up an Echo Park BID. The creation of BIDs – which are financed by additional payments from either property or business owners – in Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, downtown Los Angeles and other communities have been credited with improving safety and cleanliness, which have been among the major issues facing Echo Park businesses along Sunset and Glendale boulevards.
“The Echo Park BID would serve the local business community by providing increased security, homeless services, beautification, and streetscape maintenance,” said the Garcetti motion “Establishment of the BID is expected to revitalize the local economy and is a positive step towards neighborhood renewal.”
Not everyone, however, has been supportive of an Echo Park BID.
One Echo Park business owner told The Eastsider last year that concerns about panhandling and homeless encampments had been overblown: “To me it’s completely unnecessary and uncharacteristic of Echo Park,” said the business person, who wanted to remain anonymous. “I can’t stand the idea of rent-a-cops harassing our street vendors, our homeless, our cholos and our drunk hipsters. It’s just not needed.”
The Echo Park BID is still far from a sure thing. The chamber (The Eastsider is a member) or other interests must still raise at least $40,000 to help the city (which would chip in another $40,000) to hire a consultant to study and set up an improvement district. Also, depending on the funding, a majority of property owners located within the boundaries of the BID must approve the concept.