Council was asked to pause

The following information was sent to Rochester City Councilmembers Sunday, August 14, 12:20pm

There has been a lot of communication over the last several weeks re: #255 and a growing call from your constituents to pause RDDC’s push to start planning a Business Improvement District.

Your constituents have compiled the following: 

• Community letter/petition calling for RDDC to stop their push for a Business Improvement District. Letter was co-authored by 50 art community leaders and signed by more than 800 other supporters
• Community survey of downtown stakeholders (property owners, business owners, downtown residents included street-level outreach to small businesses specifically within the BID district. 98% responded that our community doesn’t have enough information for RDDC to proceed with their plan. (Chart attached)
• Legislators Hoffman and Vazquez-Simmons have asked City Council to pause #255 for further community input.
• Statement from former Council member Carolee Conklin against the BID legislation as delegating land use and taxing authority are two major functions of Council (attached)
• Research highlighting how approval of #255 could set into motion legal approval that does not follow the spirit of democratic governance.

Survey Result: Pie Chart indicating that 
98% of respondents said the community was not ready for Council to approve a Business Improvement District and levy new taxes.

IN SUMMARY • The case for “need” has not been established by the RDDC
• RDDC has been asked what specific problem a BID will solve. They haven’t answered this. They only point to a series of approvals by boards with mutual interests, and studies funded by individuals who stand to gain.
• The BID approval vote process as described by RDDC’s director and Dana Miller are weighted by assessed value of property owners. This is fundamentally un-democratic.
• RDDC has used problematic language “Control undesirable street activity (youth, panhandlers, etc.) using police, enhanced on-street security resources, and creative behavioral redirection programs.”
• The RDDC says they are committed to an open and transparent process, but by pushing forward legislation even after community is asking for more information demonstrates otherwise.
• Downtown Rochester has blossomed in the last 15 years WITHOUT a Business Improvement District in place.
• City Councils in other benchmark cities are actually struggling to claw back power from their existing BIDs.
• If developers have specific needs, the existing Downtown Enhancement District, can be modified. As Carolee points out this maintains oversight by City Council.
• Rather than creating a public tax to fund RDDC’s staffing costs, they should continue to use their membership to fund their organization. Our Community is asking you to pause this legislation.

On behalf of our growing community organizers,

Thank you.

Council members who voted for #255 (The BID legislation) just two days later:
Michael Patterson,
Chair of the Neighborhood and Business Development Committee  <>
Jose Peo <>
Council President, Miguel Melendez <>
Mitch Gruber <>
Willie Lightfoot <>
Lashay Harris <>

Voted against #255
Stanley Martin <>
Kimberly Smith <>
Council Vice President, Mary Lupien <>

Seats of the councilmembers in bold are up for election in 2023.

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