Community leaders seeking to expand a Business Improvement Area to advance clean streets, public safety, and business growth across Capitol Hill are looking for a special person to drive creation of the possible $1.6 million program. The candidate needs to be detail oriented and tenacious, able to connect with small business owners and landlords in every nook and cranny of the Hill, and able to track down every single loose end. Sorry, I already have a job.
“People are busy,” says Jeff Peletier, architect at 15th Ave E’s Board and Vellum and spokesperson for the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the efforts to create an expansive Capitol Hill Business Improvement Area. “This economy is insane.”
In these boom times, the job listing for a new campaign manager to wrangle the expansion process is a good sign for those behind the proposed expansion. CHS reported on the February launch of the Hill chamber’s campaign to expand the existing Broadway BIA to encompass Broadway, Pike/Pine, Melrose, as well as 15th and 19th Avenues. The new manager will help drive the day to day to prepare petitions for the City Council as the campaign shifts into an all-out effort to gather signups from 60% of property owners within the proposed boundaries of the expansion. That includes “owners of business property, multi-family residential property, and mixed-use property.”
Earlier this year, the chamber thought this would include around 650 owners. But Peletier says they’ve found the Capitol Hill landowner environment to be much more complicated than expected and that it is taking a lot more time to track down who owns what and then get the expansion petition information to them. “Right now, it’s really feet on the ground, one on one,” Peletier said.
At the launch of the campaign in February, the chamber said it already had support from about 30% of the property owners to be impacted by the assessments which could run between $2,000 and $5,000 per year for most of the 850 or so properties involved. 60% of all potential members in the existing and newly proposed area must vote to approve any agreement to create new borders under the city’s Office of Economic Development program. Then each BIA agreement must be approved by the Seattle City Council. The expanded Capitol Hill BIA would be similar in structure to ones in Pioneer Square, SODO, University District, Ballard, West Seattle and downtown.
Philip Sit, the City of Seattle’s advocate for BIAs who helps groups form the proposals, tells CHS that the Capitol Hill expansion process appears to be on track. The City Council can take up action on BIA formation or changes in either the January/February timeframe or June/July, based on the city’s fiscal and budget calendar. The BIA process can take from 14 to 20 months, according to Sit. “There isn’t a set timeline,” he said.
In addition to hiring a new campaign manager to grind out the BIA petition gathering process, roles are shifting at the chamber. Sierra Hansen, who took over the Hill nonprofit in 2015 after a career in PR and starting her own firm representing clients including the the Downtown Seattle Association, has stepped aside and now heads the current Broadway BIA. At a roundtable this week with the group’s board, Hansen touted the BIA’s 2017 accomplishments including some hard stats on just how much trash and clean-up the group’s funding supported:
# bags of trash removed: 1346
# graffiti tags removed: 668
# sanitary clean-ups: 855
# sharps removed:415
# public can overflow clean-ups: 338
# illegal dumping clean-ups: 43
Hansen also said the current Broadway-focused BIA is on track to raise more funds than expected thanks to the robust economy — somewhere around $190,000. But that’s a far cry from the nearly $1.6 million Hansen and the expanded BIA could eventually pull in.