Democracy hinges on the voices of the people being heard and respected. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) centralize decision-making power in the hands of property owners and large corporations, overshadowing the concerns and needs of everyday citizens and small business owners.

We already have an organization in place to manage taxation and land use, it’s called City Council. Residents of our community entrust their power to City Council to act on their behalf. City Council should not hand over that power and responsibility to a private company!

There is strength in numbers. City Council needs to hear from you. Tell them loud and clear: NO BID — no way, no how.

BIDs privatize local government functions, take away democratic representation and control from the people who live in a community.

BIDs are managed by a private company with a board of directors.

Under New York State Law the Board of Directors is only required to include one commercial tenant and one residential tenant. More can be added, but the board MUST always have a MAJORITY of property owners!

Members of the BID Board of Directors are elected by parcels not people. Big companies and landlords who own multiple properties get more votes. RG&E gets 11 votes while citizens, small businesses, and residents get none.

Most downtown parcels are owned by big companies like RG&E or landlords who don’t even live here. Their priority is to build up their assets, not our community.


Across the US there are movements against BIDs and in favor of more just and equitable future for our cities.


A neighborhood in Queens raises concerns about a BID that would tear aport the fabric of a diverse community by prioritizing commercial interests, risking the displacement of small businesses and the vibrant local culture.


BID marketing often highlights the number of BIDs across the country as a mark of success. This is misleading; it’s more a reflection of how quickly and easily BIDs can be established, often before communities are adequately informed or involved.

This rapid spread isn’t a sign of success but a warning about the lack of transparent and inclusive community engagement in their formation.


The Washington D.C. Council Office of Racial Equity concluded: “…any new BIDs under the current BID model will only widen existing racial inequities, as documented by a body of academic research.”

The RDDC and the mayor attempted to bundle funding for downtown concierge service with much needed neighborhood opioid outreach, the community successfully rallied council to #splitthebill.

While a clean bill to fund neighborhood opioid outreach was passed, the fight isn’t over. RDDC will likely include “concierge ambassadors” in their district plan for the BID, because it’s part of how they justify the need for a BID. Learn why “Blue Shirt” ambassadors are a BID problem. UPDATE: we were right again (more coming soon).


Rochester has seen a significant community push-back against the creation of a BID, but the RDDC is painting a very different picture for Council and the community. These independent voices agree: NO BID — no way, no how.

I’m concerned about the undemocratic manner in which BIDs operate. I do not believe there are sufficient protections in place to protect low income residents, small businesses, or small property owners. The power granted to this entity will lie in hands of a handful of wealthy property owners and developers.

— John Gary • Rochester, NY

What a Business Improvement District would actually do: Hand decision making powers for downtown Rochester to a secretive entity that does not have to pay any attention to city residents who are not wealthy landowners.

— Madalyn Stuart • Rochester, NY

Business Improvements Districts are wealth distribution back to developers and steal from the treasury of our city and our people. We can not outsource the public good for another useless organization that makes the little people the enemy and developers kings of their own fiefdom.

— Chris HenneLly • Rochester, NY