So since I started my new position as Executive Editor at the Long Beach Post in July, my freelancing work has been greatly diminished. But that doesn’t mean I’ve been writing any less. In fact, it’s the exact opposite–I have write at least 2 to 3 news briefs a day and several major feature stories per week. The only thing is that all of these stories are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the opinionated and critical arts features that I usually write and are forcing me to utilize newswriting skills that I haven’t tapped into since Journalism 101 in the 10th grade. It’s a change for sure, but a good one that is allowing me to prove that good reporting skills can be transferred to any subject matter.

The story below came about after the PBID was renewed and the news brief received a lot of comments from locals who were upset about the weighted voting system, something I knew nothing about. I got in contact with a Downtown resident’s advocate and the City Clerk’s office to come up with a fair and balanced look at a voting system that is not so fair and balanced. Three weeks ago, I had no idea what a PBID even was, now I’m the expert. It’s amazing where a “real-world” job can get you!

Explaining the PBID’s Controversial Weighted Voting Process


A member of the DLBA’s Clean Team, which is a service afforded by the recently renewed PBID.

One for one is not the way that voting worked when Downtown’s Property and Business Improvement District was reauthorized for another ten years last week. Instead, each property owner’s vote carried with it the weight of their portion of the total PBID assesment, a procedure that is implemented in accordance with California State law for establishing and renewing such districts.

For most of the 200 or so California municipalties that have established PBIDs, the weighted-ballot vote has not stirred up much controversy as approval must still come from a wide range of property owners in order to reach the one penny over 50 percent of total assessment dollars needed to pass. In Downtown Long Beach, however, there are so many large properties owned by just a few entities that it only takes a small number of weighted-ballot votes to pass the PBID and many residents are left feeling like the process is unfair.

According to Sandy Rendell, spokesperson for the anti-PBID group Downtown Homeowners Unite, because of the weighted-ballot system, the votes of all of Downtown’s residents combined is only seven to eight percent of the total assesssment amount even though they make up the majority of the votes cast (about 1900 out of the 3000 votes are classified as residential).

This is because for many loft, condo and residential property owners, the assessment is usually under $200 and for smaller property owners, often under $50. The assessment on larger properties such as office buildings, leased commercial space and city properties, comparitvely, runs into the tens of thousands of dollars (the Landmark Building on the corner of Pine Ave. and Ocean Blvd, for example, has an assessment of $41,000). So while 77 percent of the money voted to renew the PBID, nearly 60 percent of the raw ballots voted no.