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BIDs 101

A quick Guide to Business Improvement Districts

Developed and provided by: 

The City of Los Angeles  
Office of the City Clerk
Business Improvement District Division

200 N Spring Street, Room 395
Los Angeles, CA  90012 
Main Phone: (213) 978-1099

“BID” is an acronym for Business Improvement District. A business improvement district is a geographically defined area within the City of Los Angeles, in which services, activities, and programs are paid for through a special assessment which is charged to all members within the district in order to equitably distribute the benefits received and the costs incurred to provide the agreed-upon services, activities, and programs.

A Business Improvement District can provide any service that is “above and beyond” the services provided by the City of Los Angeles. Some services provided by LA City BIDs are:

Photo of private three security patrols standing next to their bicycles in Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles Personnel operating equipment to clean city sidewalks
City of Los Angeles Personnel smiling, a map in personnel's hands
  • Special events
  • Marketing

By law, it is a multiple step process. But both Business-based and Property-based BIDs are formed through City Council by adoption of an Ordinance. Both BID formations require a public hearing and all stakeholders are notified by mail. Their formation is based on the majority.

BIDs exist all over the United States. Every major City in America has BIDs. San Francisco, San Diego, and New York City all have multiple BIDs. But BIDs exist in small cities too.

Los Angeles has 40 operating BIDs and a few more in forming stages. BIDs are currently in major commercial areas of Downtown, Hollywood, the Westside, the Harbor, and the San Fernando Valley.

Under current law, BIDs are for commercial areas only. Only mixed-use areas (like condo buildings near commercial areas) might have residential properties in a BID.

Either the Business Owner or the Property Owner, depending on how the District is created.

YES! Organizations can do most of these services through volunteers or by collecting volunteer contributions to provide services without forming a BID….. BUT a BID makes your District official, more stable for applying to grant funding, and creates a fair and equal method of collecting financial support from everyone in the area. In a BID, everyone pays and everyone has a fair share in the organization. It takes an entire community to build a BID.

Legally, BIDs cannot replace city services.

The City of Los Angeles has limited funding to provide certain services. Services, like graffiti removal, are provided to the entire city as funding is available; And, there isn’t enough graffiti funding to cover all the graffiti in Los Angeles. BIDs can choose to provide a graffiti service to clean up what the City can’t clean.

Aerial photo of the Fashion District around sunset

By law, the amount of each assessment is equal to the services being provided. The more services, or more frequent they are provided, the higher the assessment.

Aerial photo of one street in the Fashion District

Assessments on property are paid through the annual Property Tax Bill mailed by the LA County Assessors Office. Assessments on business Owners are billed by the Office of the City Clerk.

Photo of a mural on the side of a building; it is the statue of liberty in the mural

You won’t. By law, the money collected by a BID can only be spent within the BID.

Aerial photo of Vine St. right around night time

Each BID is controlled by the stakeholders of each BID. A Board is formed to run the BID and is operated through a contract with the City.

Arial picture of Bunker Hill region

The Office of the City Clerk holds a contract with every BID and monitors their operations. Through reporting and regular audits, they ensure that each is operating correctly.