The BID, The BAD and The Ugly

Clips and full video from the BID Education Committee’s February 18th panel conversation.

What we’ve learned from our speakers about BIDs in other cities:

  • BIDs use the arts to surreptitiously push gentrification and privatization
  • BIDs often target unhoused people and privatize public space
  • BIDs often hire private security and have even put police and courts on their payroll
  • BIDs undermine local democracy and take power from our elected officials
  • BIDs further empower the most powerful while increasing inequality
  • In Rochester, the RDDC/RDP are using the same playbook and even some of the same staff from other problematic BIDs to push a BID

In their closing message to Rochester, Aaron Howe, PhD candidate and founder of Remora House Mutual Aid, encouraged Rochester with these words of caution:

“unfortunately, at Remora house, one of the biggest things we do right now is responding to the negative impacts of BIDs…and I just want to remind everybody that it’s so much easier to stop a BID before it happens than to either react to what they do or get it to go away… We started with two bids in D.C. We now have 11.”

It’s so much easier to stop a BID before it starts

(More coming soon…)

Full Webinar

Recorded live February 18,2023, this panel conversation features experts and advocates from communities affected by Business Improvement Districts and moderated by Darien Lamen. Darien is an educator and media professional in Rochester, NY. In 2018, he founded the volunteer-powered local news program Reclaiming the Narrative, guided by a commitment to reporting on issues and perspectives the mainstream media won’t cover.


Susanna F. Schaller is an associate professor in urban studies, administration, and planning at the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education at the City College of New York. She is the author of Business Improvement Districts and the Contradictions of Placemaking: BID Urbanism in Washington D.C.

Aaron Howe is a PhD candidate at American University in Washington D.C. whose research focuses on Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), homelessness, public space, and criminalization. In 2020 they co-founded Remora House (Instagram | Twitter), a mutual aid collective that helps get supplies and cash to unhoused people across D.C.

Kaitlyn Dey is a community researcher based in Portland, Oregon. She has spent the past five years researching and fighting against the impacts of Business Improvement Districts, locally in Portland. She currently organizes with Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) (Instagram | Facebook) to help coordinate research and organizing efforts against BIDs nationally.

Kelly Cheatle is an artist and community researcher based in Rochester, NY. She is the Artistic Director of Airigami where she creates community-driven artworks. A passionate advocate, Kelly is dedicated to educating the her community on the impact of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) on social justice efforts. Kelly’s research and love for community building through art aim to raise awareness and empower informed decision making.

One response to “The BID, The BAD and The Ugly”

  1. […] when united against exploitation and injustice. The presentations offered crucial insights into the potential consequences of a BID and exposed questionable practices by those in power. The situation at the Strong Museum further […]

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