PHOTO : COURTESY OF THE SACRAMENTO RIVER DISTRICT over the extra money , says Gary Hursh , secretary treasurer of the Carmichael Improvement District , which was created in 2016 . It took four months for him to get the necessary signatures for approval ( at least 50 percent of property owners ), the first step in a two-step formation process .
“ Many of the property owners said , ‘ I ’ m already paying property taxes , the city should be paying for services you ’ re providing ,’” Hursh says . “ That ’ s a valid argument , but the government doesn ’ t have the money or means to accomplish this .”
Ultimately , nearly 70 percent of property owners — fed up with the homelessness , crime , graffiti and trash — voted “ yes ” for the Carmichael Improvement District . In the past year , Hursh says the homeless issue has improved . With a contribution , he says , the district supported what ’ s called a “ winter sanctuary ,” where 80 people in need of shelter could spend nights in local churches . Monthly security meetings allow law enforcement to share information about hotspots that need to be addressed .
Rebekah Evans , who came aboard this year to head the 80 Watt District , watched older videos of the neighborhood before the PBID existed . It wasn ’ t exactly a pretty picture , with drugs and prostitution and various disturbances . But since
Cyclist sitting along Two Rivers Bike Trail at Township 9 Park in the Sacramento River District .
“ WE STARTED OFF WITH A VISION THAT HAS WORKED . THIS IS WHAT WE HAD HOPED FOR IN THE WAY OF AN ECONOMIC VOICE .”
- Michael Ault , executive director , Downtown Sacramento Partnership
the PBID was established in 2015 , the district has seen a drop of about 35 percent in crime-related calls in the district , which Evans attributes to the PBID hiring private security and its partnership with the Sacramento County Sheriff ’ s Department , California Highway Patrol and other specialized teams .
With security and maintenance progressing , Evans now wants to focus on beautification projects , including bringing in flowers , new trash cans , banners , lights on poles and a monument sign with new branding . A long-term goal for Evans is to build a community garden in honor of the area ’ s first responders .
In a four-mile stretch of south Sacramento , Franklin Boulevard Business District doesn ’ t have much greenery to speak of . “ We are 10 miles outside of downtown ,” says the district ’ s executive director Nathan Ulsh . “ Infrastructure lags in this mid-century corridor . We don ’ t have a park , don ’ t have a plaza , don ’ t have a bank . We have one city tree .”
The district does , however , have a plan to grow its reputation . It serves 600 businesses and 160 property owners . In addition to its clean and safe initiatives and a push for housing , Ulsh has started public events that highlight the district ’ s large Latino population .
In partnership with Sacramento Regional Transit District , the district launched an on-demand microtransit route this summer for better connections since no bus lines were running from 21st to 47th streets .
“ That ’ s where our markets and services are ,” Ulsh says . “ But for people that walk from the bus stop to any given location it ’ s brutal . When the sun ’ s beating down or it rains , to walk a half a mile feels like a mile .”
In the city ’ s industrial core , Power Inn Alliance is the largest PBID geographically , overseeing some 1,300 acres . The district has about 29,000 jobs attributed to the area , says Tracey Schaal , the district ’ s executive director . In January , the district launched its inaugural partnership with the Sacramento State Art Department to promote “ art in public places ,” a project that , like PBIDs themselves , recognizes collaboration as the key to improvement .
“ While each district has its own niche ,” Schaal says , “ we recognize that collectively our voice is stronger .” •
Russell Nichols is a freelance writer who focuses on technology , culture and mental health . His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal , The Boston Globe , Governing Magazine and Government Technology . On Twitter @ russellnichols .