Survey said No.

The City of Rochester’s advertisement
indicating the option to “watch online”

Even after the cameras were pulled from the public forum that was advertised as being streamed online and a constituent was denied ADA access to an ASL interpreter and constituents pleaded to reschedule the meeting Councilmember Michael Patterson, chair of the Neighborhood and Business Development Committee and representative of pushed through and held the event anyway. In doing so he denied the community access to critical information.

All members of council were present Thursday, August 11, to witness testimony from constituents documenting their need for more time, information, equity, and accountability. They had copies of this community survey information at their desks:

Council knew the community did not have enough information.

A selection of comments from the over 40 “Additional Comments” collected through 8/10/22:

  • I’ve seen signs around town and have specifically put in several hours over the course of the past few weeks trying to learn about the BID and have come up woefully short. And for reference although it shouldn’t matter, I am a physician so I’ve had quite a bit of post graduate education and have been quite politically engaged for the last decade. And if I’ve not been able to find information I guarantee the others in our community do not understand this. I would like a more transparent process in our downtown.  
  • This money will negatively impact my neighborhood which is adjacent to the BID by raising prices in a very poor area. Contrary to claims by the city, this type of district has never benefited surrounding neighborhoods and won’t in Rochester, either. Invest in our neighborhood directly; don’t make a BID.
  • Our government should not be giving up its power to corporate interest groups. We need more transparency, not less. And should be giving more power to the citizens and not corporations. 
  • I am specifically very concerned about the prospect of increased private security forces with no oversight or recourse, who are incentivized to place the interests of large businesses over people. I can only foresee this leading to increasingly violent removal of homeless people without ever addressing the root causes or needs of those people. As an artist renting studio space downtown, I am also concerned that my rent will go up and I will have to leave the downtown area. Since the RDDC has been so vocal about “arts” and “vitality” downtown, this seems counter to their stated goal (which leads me to believe that their stated goal is not in fact their goal at all, or that they are extremely misguided). While I understand that the RDDC wants to use the BID to hold events to bring more people downtown, I am worried that this essentially means that private corporations will control the use of public space. I am not at all convinced that a BID is necessary to bring vitality downtown. I have seen RDDC put their name on multiple events that they did not organize, fund, or host, which to me is proof that we do not need a BID; there is already so much happening downtown without one.
  • I’m very concerned about the privatization of city area/decision making.
  • I do not agree with this proposed tax levy
  • The BID would serve to concentrate wealth and power to business owners and not Rochester Residents. I do not think it is a safe path for moving forward for city residents. 
  • why was this agenda held blind closed doors?
  • Most small businesses downtown still don’t even know about this. RDDC must step back and reset their process to first transparently and openly ask the community if a BID is actually wanted before they proceed in forcing it upon the many small business owners who have put so much into helping to re-build downtown. 
  • My understanding is that much of the new housing developments were built with incentives and tax free promises.  I would really like city council to follow up on rental properties that are poorly maintained and maybe find money to help people own their homes.
  • Stop these rich land monopolizers and get there slimy hands out of our pockets. They can afford to front their own money for any project they want to do. 
  • I do not trust the city 
  • Fuck RDDC.
  • I think we all need to know more. Taxation does not go over well but if the benefits are important, people will make good decisions
  • Transparency and integrity ought to be paramount as we delve into the minutiae of BID planning details! Rochester’s community members must be informed in a clear manner, as to the wide-ranging economic ramifications this plan bodes ill as it now posits. To hide behind the facade of boosting the “arts footprint” in Downtown Rochester with a vague promise of support for artists and arts organizations is a heinous move, outrageous subterfuge, way beyond obfuscation! Hey, it’s simply business as usual, as well as, another move forward in an economic development plan that was approved in 1980.
  • Need more small property owner involved
  • I would like specific information about
    1. why we need a BID in Rochester and what specific problems this will solve
    2. who will be making the financial decisions about the tax levies and use of funds
    3. will there be fair and abundant funding for LOCAL art, cultural, and music programming
    4. will small, independent and unique businesses within the BID be supported by the tax levies or forced to close or relocate due to higher taxes and rents
    5. is the BID another “inner loop” or example of redlining
    6. how will the BID affect adjacent neighborhoods
  • Tax without a vote and disclosure of its purpose leads to community distrust
  • This needs to be more transparent and get more feedback. Why not have city council oversee groups and decide on taxes. Maybe make sure that tax increases are handled more equitably. 
  • I have lived in the city for 13 years and do not want a B.I.D. in Rochester, I have seen first hand how they have harmed other cities and their neighborhoods, this is a power grab my a minority of wealthy people, and large business. It will harm  not improve the city, it will stifle creativity, and community growth.
  • The small businesses that are left in the in downtown Rochester cannot afford another tax!
  • From what I’ve read about BID (and not enough info is available), this comes across as another get rich quick scheme done in secret by the City of Rochester – with absolutely NO PUBLIC SAY at all. For people who are already struggling to pay rent, the formation of a BID could very well force them out of living downtown and who knows if they will find affordable housing elsewhere? Affordable apartments are already hard to find downtown, unless you’re making six-figures a year.
  • This is a plan that only benefits the rich and elite of Rochester, and not the people who work a decent living and live in the city. People who want to live in the city want the housing to be affordable, where they don’t have to worry about missing a rent or mortgage payment. This BID plan has the potential to destroy that. And people who want to create or put on events in the city will have a difficult time wanting to do that, if the City wants to control everything. 
  • And this is all being done by the City without any public input or any transparency. This is not needed. At all.
  • Interested in what type of stakeholders are on the board. I’m open to exploring options to make downtown a great place, but without much information that would directly impact my business it’s concerning that the only way they see it happening is by private sector hands off approach. Would be happy to hear more if other options are researched and explored by various community stakeholders. 
  • I’m interested in some clarity about what a BID is actually supposed to do.  I know we have one in High Falls, but it hasn’t seemed to draw more traffic yet.  One thing I’m always interested in is mixed developments–business, residential, and retail all existing together, with excellent bus or trolley routes and vividly defined and spacious bike lanes.  When it comes to residential, mixed rent prices are necessary in order to encourage all different socio-economic backgrounds to move into the area, thus creating a neighborhood where the attorney and the retail worker live side-by-side, having a cup of coffee together at the bakery on their way to work (by bike, to boot!)  It makes a more inclusive and more importantly, more empathetic society and encourages less reliance on oil.  That’s what I’m really interested in.  Is a BID necessary for this?  I’m not sure.
  • This ridiculous project is 21st century redlining. The new tax levy will price residents out of the area and the tax revenue will fund cops (private and city) to crack down on the marginalized. Disgusting all the way around.
  • The RDDC & Ms. Zimmer-Mayer have always operated without transparency.  The RDDC’s resident census figures have always been suspect.  Over many years the amount of money allocated by the City & County (as well  as grant funds from the State & Federal Gov’t) to developing or improving Rochester’s downtown have been a failure.  The Johnson administration used funds for free bus transportation within approximately the inner loop also for the paving squares now being removed.  None of this improved the vacant stores on Main St.  Now retail trade is basically online for an increasingly large portion of Monroe County’s population.  Thus it will be impossible for the BID & RDDC to attract retail businesses to downtown as dreamed of in the Warren administration’s Roc the River plan.  Downtown really isn’t dead.  It does need at least a large not chic grocery store now that the resident population has become a significant number.  There are many arts (visual, music, dance, drama) activities downtown as well as an increasing number of restaurants. There are several large engineering & legal corporations but most of their employees leave for the suburbs after their work day is completed.    


On Tuesday, August 16th, 2022 Rochester City Council pushed through legislation without community consent that sets the community well on the path towards the creation of a BID.

3 responses to “Survey said No.”

  1. […] by 50 artists from 3 generations were delivered to City Council on August 16, 2022 along with local survey data, research, requests for more information and time for consent. Later that night Rochester City […]

  2. […] Make no mistake a yes vote on #255 is a vote to proceed with a BID, and the people of Rochester do not have enough information to give council informed consent to be taxed. Our volunteers polled Rochesterians online and went door to door to small businesses throughout the footprint of the proposed district to find out if they had heard about the RDDC’s plan to create a Business Improvement District. Spoiler: No. […]

  3. Alan R Ziegler Avatar

    I haven’t had a chance to read many of the specifics, but what I have read leaves me very suspect about the efficacy of a BID for our downtown area. Since Kodak lost 60,000 employees, our local economy has been driven by small businesses and we need to create more welcoming spaces for them, not for large businesses. We also need to be more conscious about the value of diversity-diversity of thought and lived experience. We are no longer a monolithic white society and we need to embrace and learn from those who are different than us. Anything that encourages that is a GO and that which does not is a NO.

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