While many are preoccupied with the present pandemic, Berkeley City Council has begun to look toward the future with the reestablishment of the North Shattuck Business Improvement District, or NSBID.
The third 10-year contract for this particular BID, which was created in 2001, was unanimously approved by City Council members June 16. Over the period of the contract, NSBID will be allocated a maximum amount of about $2.6 million, with about $200,000 allotted for the first year.
According to Vice Mayor and District 5 Councilmember Sophie Hahn, BIDs are districts in which businesses decide to “self tax” so that they can use that money for specific purposes. Hahn added that BIDs are a “wonderful, flexible kind of mechanism that exists for business districts to pool their money.”
“The NSBID finances maintenance and a variety of marketing activities for the North Shattuck business district,” states a City Council report. “It therefore indirectly enhances sales tax, business license tax, property tax and other business-related City revenue sources.”
Aside from administrative fees, the extra revenue goes directly back to the community, according to Cathy Goldsmith, member of the Cheese Board Collective and president of the North Shattuck Association, which manages the services provided by NSBID.
Last year, the annual budget was focused on attracting customers by means of street fairs and other events, Goldsmith noted. Due to the pandemic, however, such events are no longer feasible, so the association has surveyed businesses to see what their needs are at this time.
“We won’t have a big street fair,” Goldsmith said. “That opens up money to help businesses come out onto the street if they want to, close streets for special events, expand the farmers market if we need to, offer support for barriers and, for all the businesses in the neighborhood, help figure out how to move through the permitting process to the city.”
Peter Levitt, executive chef and co-owner of Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, added that although NSBID’s money for one year would fully support only one average-sized business, the money does help in other ways.
NSBID funds can also be used to turn parking spaces into temporary seated dining — which, according to Levitt, draws customers to restaurants and surrounding businesses. This will directly benefit businesses in the area, Levitt added.
In addition, Goldsmith called the work of the organizations a “nonstressful, terrific thing” in “complicated” times.
“It just gives us a way to keep the neighborhood in the front of people’s minds and to remind them that if they want the neighborhood to maintain its kind of cultural and delightful qualities, we need to shop in our neighborhoods,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith added that the North Shattuck Association continues to seek creative ways to support the neighborhood.