Bixby Knolls Business Association explores new financing options

With redevelopment funds disappearing, BKBIA seeks alternatives to sustain growth.


Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune

One of many banners installed by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA) along Atlantic Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard advertising area businesses

During its meeting last week, the Long Beach City Council voted to renew the City’s contract with the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA) for one year along with continuing a tax assessed on Bixby Knolls businesses to help fund the organization.

In a Nov. 19 memo to the city manager, Long Beach Economic Development Director John Keisler estimated that the tax would generate $255,000 for the nonprofit BKBIA in 2020.

“Assessment funds are collected by the City on behalf of the BKBIA through additional fees and passed on directly through to the BKBIA for implementation of annual programs,” he noted.

However, BKBIA’s projected budget as submitted in its Sept. 19 annual report also includes $176,500 in funds from the city’s former Redevelopment Agency (RDA) that will sunset in 2021, nearly halving BKBIA’s total revenue.

In anticipation of that event, BKBIA has added $20 annually to its $250 base assessment for licensed businesses and $150 for nonprofits, plus a consumer-price-index (CPI) adjustment, though its board of directors–– consisting mostly of local business persons–– and opted not to raise the levy by the 3.81% CPI increase for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Blair Cohn, BKBIA’s executive director, told the Signal Tribune on Monday that the City hired a consultant to explore new funding streams, including potentially increasing the tax.

“We [could] increase the assessment for the businesses, and it goes up with CPI every year, and you could add another slight increase to it, but at some point, you don’t want to get too oppressive,” he said.

Cohn said another option BKBIA is considering is a property-based assessment whereby landlords are taxed based on the square footage of their property.

As reported in the Long Beach Business Journal on Nov. 18, the consultants– Denver-based Progressive Urban Management Associations (PUMA)– said assessing property owners could bring in $550,000 to $670,000. They also estimate that an operating budget of $600,000 would be ideal for the BKBIA, or about $100,000 more than its current budget.

“[Another] proposal is sharing in the sales tax that’s generated from the district,” Cohn told the Signal Tribune. “It goes right back into the district, a percentage of it. That’s like the same model that the Redevelopment [Agency used] but just hyperlocal.”

In addition, one of BKBIA’s stated budget goals is to launch a 501(c)(3) Bixby Knolls Community Foundation to solicit more grants and donations. Contributions and grants currently account for $13,500– or less than three percent– of its annual operating budget.

The budget also states that BKBIA will continue programs that foster local businesses, such as hosting quarterly breakfasts, installing banners, marketing through social media, improving façades and streetscapes and connecting the residential community to the business corridors of Atlantic Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard through events such as First Fridays, Knights of the Round (Turn)table, Bixby Knolls Literary Society, Bixby Knolls Strollers, Kidical Mass and Concerts in the Park(ing Lot).

“By stitching all programs together, we are able to reach the full spectrum of local residents and their interests and spread our message about the importance of supporting the local business district,” the budget states. “The focus of 2019-2020 remains to again stay the course as we have.”