What is a PBID?

A Property-Based Business Improvement District (PBID) is a private sector funding mechanism designed to improve the environment of a business district with new services financed by a self-imposed and self-governed assessment. These services (such as enhanced safety and maintenance) are provided exclusively within the district, and are different from – rather than a replacement of – those already provided by the City. They work in the same way as a common area maintenance (CAM) agreement in shopping malls and office parks. PBIDs are a common tool – there are more than 1,000 across North America and over 100 in California alone, most of which are concentrated in downtown areas.


How is this different from the existing Downtown BIA?

Downtown has had a business-license-based business improvement area (BIA) since 1975. This BIA raises approximately $240,000 annually from businesses to help fund downtown events such as the Farmers’ Market, Concerts in the Plaza and holiday activities. The BIA has worked for this purpose, but as downtown evolves and more challenges arise, taking on additional downtown improvements has proven difficult given the limited funds.

What services will the PBID provide?

The PBID will provide services as determined by its board of directors (made up of property and business owners). Initial services will include the following:

Downtown Ambassador program that will provide visitor information; homeless services outreach and referrals; coordination with local police and property and business owners to prevent crime and address vagrancy issues; safety escorts; merchant outreach; event support; city services liaison

Maintenance services that include cohesive and consistent sidewalk sweeping, scrubbing, and power washing; litter and graffiti removal; landscaping maintenance (including trees); more frequent and thorough trash removal

Beautification and cosmetic improvements to make downtown more attractive and welcoming, which may include sidewalk repair, enhanced landscaping and lighting, wayfinding signage, streetscaping, planters, public art, parklets, bicycle parking, etc.

The BIA will remain in place and continue to focus on initiatives including special events, the Farmers’ Market, parking and access efforts, and marketing and promotions.

Click here to read the full Management Plan PBID San Luis Obispo

Will the City reduce its existing services downtown if we create a PBID?

No. The City of San Luis Obispo has documented its base level of pre-PBID services. The PBID will not replace any pre-existing general City services, but instead will enhance these with new services above and beyond. Read the SLO City Base Level of Service Letter HERE.


Do PBIDs last forever?

No. PBIDs initially have a maximum life of five years, requiring a new petition process to renew. Renewal can be for a term of up to ten years. Once in place, PBIDs tend to have strong support from downtown property owners – the renewal rate nationally is 99%.


Who decides if we fund the BID?

You do! First, petition support is required from property owners paying more than 50% of proposed property assessments. A state law on special assessments, Proposition 218, creates an additional mail ballot process which also requires majority support from property owners. Lastly, if there is majority support through both the petition and mail ballot, a public hearing and adoption by City Council are the final steps in the formation process. If successful, services begin January 1, 2020.

Who will manage the PBID?

The PBID will be governed by a board of directors made up of property and business owners representing a wide variety of sub-areas and use-types within downtown. Day to day, Downtown SLO – the existing non-profit that manages the BIA – will be the operating arm of the PBID. This arrangement will allow the PBID to leverage resources and reduce administrative costs.

Additionally, the existing BIA board will remain intact. Downtown SLO will form a new Executive Committee, containing members of both boards, which will provide oversight of overall Downtown SLO functions and ensure coordination between the PBID and BIA. This management model is common in communities across the country with multiple districts.





















Additional questions?

Contact Rachel Maiorino,

Chief Operating Officer,

Downtown SLO


(805) 234-9674