Should Benicia Have a B.I.D.?

The Benicia City Council, at their April 5th meeting, approved a contract with Civitas Advisors for services to determine the feasibility and possible formation of a Business Improvement District (BID). Below are some frequently asked questions regarding Benicia’s exploration of a BID.

Q: What is a BID?
A BID is a source of funding which is used to provide special improvements and/or services within the district. It is a self-assessment levied by and upon those business owners that exist within the district.

Q: What was the result of the City Council action on April 5, 2011?
The City Council approved a contract with Civitas Advisors Inc., to work with business owners to determine if it is feasible to form a BID and, if so, assist with district formation. This Council action did NOT create an assessment.

Q: Who participates in the feasibility study?
Civitas will review Benicia’s business landscape to help identify those business types and/or locations that are most suitable for a BID. Those business owners will then offer their ideas, thoughts, wants, and suggestions to each other, and Civitas will use that feedback to build a BID.

Q: How big will the BID be? Can it be different areas?
This is yet to be determined. A BID can be fashioned to be in multiple areas. The size of the BID and where the BID is located will be determined during a feasibility study.

Q: What will the BID be used for?
That will also be determined during the feasibility study.

Q: Who is assessed, business owners or property owners?
It depends on the outcome of the feasibility study. The laws that govern BIDs allow for business owners or property owners to be assessed.

Q: How much will the assessment be?
This is yet to be determined. Who will be assessed and how much will be determined during the feasibility study.

Q: Why does the City need to hire an advisor to help with this process?
The effort to develop a BID’s size, scope and assessment level that meet legal requirements necessitates an expertise that City staff does not have. As this FAQ illustrates, many specifics still need to be determined and only a firm that has created BIDs is equipped to help merchants and business owners determine those specifics.

Q: Why would a business want to be part of a BID?
A BID is a tool for businesses to improve and enhance their economic standing; a vehicle to greater prosperity and profitability.

Q: How does a BID work?
A group of businesses decide to work together for a common goal that will benefit the group. The businesses set the goal they want to achieve. The businesses assess themselves a fee to achieve that goal. The businesses establish a board to manage the funds. The city assists with collecting the funds, primarily through business license fees, and holds the funds, like a trustee.

For more information contact the City Manager’s Office, Division of Economic Development, 707.746.4289, or

Categories: Community, Miscellaneous, Wellness