AN OPEN LETTER TO DOWNTOWN PROPERTY OWNERS

TheBackStory

As you well know Downtown Modesto Community Benefit District has been formed and you probably have paid the first years fees.

I want you to know that the assessment fees the Council has, imposed on you can be repealed.

This can happen with limited litigation if property owners will submit letters of protest.

Your money is going to a group of private individuals who have formed a nonprofit, now called Downtown Partners.

This group assembled enough investors to hire a consulting firm called New City to show them how to form the assessment district. They raised over $35,000 and their investments will be paid back out of your tax dollars.

Republican Supervisor Terry Withrow invested $1000 but abstained from voting when the County voted for the new district and assured its passage. Those who loaned the effort money will get it back.

Republican Supervisor Vito Chiesa wants a “probe” of the city schools election.

Perhaps Chiesa can demand a full investigation of the manner in which the election forming  the Downtown Modesto Community Benefit District was formed. The word community was replaced by “partners”.

Sixty-one per cent of voting owners voted against the district, and yet this assessment district was formed. The City and County provided 14.5% of the yes vote.

To put it bluntly, owners were “scammed” with the process that left little doubt of the election outcome.

The City of Modesto and Stanislaus County, using your tax dollars, voted for this measure to insure a margin of victory. For some of you this assessment is double what you are now paying in property taxes.

Some of the same individuals who were previously involved in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and SCAP scandal are featured players in the creation of this Downtown Community Benefit District.

The Bee reported that, “The impetus to create the district came out of the Downtown Modesto Partnership – a group of property and business owners, downtown supporters and the city and county – to find a way to improve the city center. Some of those involved in the effort include Gallo Center for the Arts CEO Lynn Dickerson, attorney Dave Gianelli and Ryan Swehla with the commercial real estate firm NAI Benchmark”

Out of 214 property owners 125 ballots were cast. And 76 owners voted against the district while 49 were in support. The first ballot was canceled and a second ballot was mailed out.

The voting got a big boost from local government. Modesto, its former Redevelopment Agency and Stanislaus County provided the winning margin.

There are 214 property owners within the district’s boundaries – which are roughly Seventh Street to Needham Street-Downey Avenue and G Street to L Street – but the ballots were not counted one vote per property owner. But rather on some complicated formula of building square footage and land square footage and front square footage.

The nonprofit will receive $700,000 of your money the first year, with a 5% increase yearly for the next 15 years, regardless of your ability to pay.

Josh Bridegroom put the assessment district together while employed by the City of Modesto. He then left his city job and became CEO of Downtown Partners.

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We know how much money they will get. We should also realize they can spend it on whatever they want and you can’t vote them out of office, nor recall them, nor fail to pay your annual assessments, no matter how much you disagree with how they are spending your money.

Carmen Sabatino, Mayor of Modesto 2000-2004

The Back Story 421 McHenry Avenue, Modesto, Ca 95354

To view The Downtown Modesto Community Benefit District 2015 Management District Plan in its entirety, see link below.

http://atg.modestogov.com/sirepubcouncil/cache/2/oafua1aqduhtibwuy4yjznz4/39378206092016014441984.PDF