A business owner’s perspective of the BIDThe MINORITY should not rule, which is what happened here
Local business owner Kyle Huffman sent a copy of a letter he sent to the Edmonds Mayor and city council members. While it is too long to be printed in the Beacon newspaper, we’re glad to post it here to allow others to see Mr. Huffman’s point of view. – Ed.
Council and Mayor:
I did speak at the recent council meeting this week about the BID proposal.
While I remain in a neutral position on it personally, knowing the monies will be spent between 2nd and 6th, like virtually all monies are in the "downtown" area by Edmonds over the last several years, and do applaud the initiative of the 20 or so people behind the BID proposal, I am concerned about a few items.
1) In spite of how the BID group tries to "spin" the fact that they got a majortiy of votes to approve their petition, they did not. My understanding is that 313 businesses will now have to pay towards this BID assessment. They only got 148 (best case), out of the 313 to sign and support it. That is 47 percent, LESS than 50 percent.
I also asked our signature be removed at the council meeting prior to the vote, as did others, so they actually got LESS THAN 47 percent to sign it, of impacted businesses who write the assessment checks. Square footage does not write checks, individual businesses do!
You had 4 council members that KNOWINGLY approved assessing monies on the 313 business owners impacted by this, when the MAJORITY of them did not sign the petition to approve a BID.
Whatever happened to majority vote rules? You four council members clearly believe MINORITY RULES.
You were all elected by majority rules mandate, and you then vote with the Minority rules mentality? That doesn't feel right or fair to me.
We all know the BID group didn't ask the "Salish Crossing" group, port group, waterfront group, or Harbor Square to be part of the BID, because they likely would not sign, and they represent a lot of square footage, which is what this BID group hid behind, to try and convince people they had a majority sign their petition, which they did not.
All of those excluded groups will benefit as much as 101 Main Street will, and not have to contribute a dime towards the benefit they will receive from this BID.
I heard in the meeting that the waterfront should create their own BID. 101 Main Street should be part of that BID, as it’s as waterfront as any other building in Edmonds.
2) It was also explained to myself and others in this BID group, by a BID organizer, that the BID group would have 100 percent approval and say over how the raised monies was spent and allocated.
I am sure that fact was why many people signed the BID, like my spouse did, and others I know of did.
Quite frankly, I correctly did not believe the BID person who talked to me about it, and subsequently confirmed that was not the truth, and in fact false (a lie), and did not sign their petition, as I assumed city government would somehow siphon off the money from the 313 businesses to supplement cuts they have had to make, or reallocate it to projects they prioritize for themselves, and have final control over how the money is spent, allocated, etc.
This was in fact confirmed to be the case by the city attorney at the council meeting, and he pointed out that the council has final authority over how the money is spent and allocated, and that the business BID group can only recommend how it is spent, and its the BID businesses money, not the governments, and yet the government essentially takes total control over it.
This fact was brought up at the council meeting and you heard that people had potentially signed the petition when they had been given false information to do so, yet you still push it through to a vote immediately?
Like Councilperson Yamamoto said at the meeting, is pushing a vote back a few weeks really going to change anyone's mind up here, or something very similar to that.
Obviously the council had its mind made up prior to the public hearing.
None of these facts that came out during the council meeting by the public seemed to matter at all to four of the council members. It could be presumed they don't care about the "facts", nor that people were mislead by BID proponents with incorrect and false statements, to get them to sign their petition.
They allowed BID proponents to use false information like this to gather signatures and benefit from unethical or misinformed behavior like this.
Whether it passed or not a few weeks later, why not allow the 313 businesses to make decisions based on accurate and truthful facts?
Remember, only 148 (best case, actually less as several asked to have signatures removed after finding out the truth) signed supporting the creation of the BID, or LESS THAN 50 percent of the impacted businesses.
When we found out we were mislead with false facts, several of those 148 signatures asked to be removed from the petition, which the council knew about prior to their vote.
The council knew that support declined from what the BID group presented prior to voting, as people like myself notified the council we wanted our signatures removed, and they still allowed a declining MINORITY of supporters to benefit from gathering signatures using false information, to bind the majority of businesses to have to pay for improvements they want for themselves.
Whether the BID idea is good or not, just allowing the manner in which this was done, using incorrect information to gather signatures, allowing a minority of businesses to impose fees on the majority of businesses that did not support it, appears to be in conflict for everything this country stands for.
Why you would not allow it time to gather signatures using truthful facts and information, and not require it to be supported by a majority of business owners impacted, WHICH IT WAS NOT!, is scary actually.
It would have been much more prudent to extend the vote on this issue so that people could have decided with accurate facts whether or not to support the creation of this BID or not, and do some work on including some of the other businesses that will clearly benefit from its creation, yet not have to contribute towards it monetarily.
Councilpersons Frank Yamamoto, Strom Peterson, and Diane Buckshnis, (and one other I need to find out who it was), voted for the creation of this BID, in spite of knowing all of the above information.
(The fourth vote was by council member Kristiana Johnson. – Ed.)
They knew the facts that less than 50 percent of the impacted businesses supported the creation of the BID (the MINORITY, LESS THAN 50 percent), and they heard from businesses that had signed in the minority, that wanted our signatures removed, that we had been given false information by the original BID group, and knowing that the majority of the 313 impacted business DID NOT SUPPORT creation of this BID at this time as presented, using false information to gather the signatures they got in the first place, blocked moving the vote back to re-assess the boundaries of the BID.
We probably all know the reputation of Edmonds City Council. Anti business, anti growth, etc.
From a business perspective from someone that owns businesses outside of Edmonds, as well as in Edmonds, I can assure you that is a widely help perception of Edmonds government.
While council support of this BID might seem to fly in the face of that perception, it really doesn't.
The council used a small MINORITY of private group of business owners to "assess" fees on a larger relatively random group of MAJORITY of business owners, AND, gets final say on how those private monies are spent and allocated. WOW!
Too good to be true? Apparently four council members thought so.
Lets don't make decisions based on honest or truthful facts, lets ignore that fact that the MAJORITY of businesses impacted do NOT SUPPORT THE BID, and lets get us some free money NOW!
These four members couldn't even see fit to extend the vote a few weeks so we business owners could make our decisions with accurate and truthful facts.
Whether it passed or not later, why not do it with accurate and truthful facts, and a real analysis of the support it would have had given the real facts.
Frank Yamamoto, Strom Peterson, Diane Buckshnis, and the other council member that voted for this at this time, given the above, really?
That all said, I am very pro business in Edmonds. I own two businesses in Edmonds, as well as two commerical buildings in Edmonds.
I also own a home in Edmonds, and am a strong supporter of our local community.
I applaud the BID group that took the initiative to put the BID proposal together and know they mean well.
However, the MINORITY should not rule, which is what happened here, and people should be allowed to make decisions with truthful facts, not misinformation which was provided to gather the minority of signatures they did get.
Edmonds is a great place, and needs some great leadership. I feel we fell short on this vote.
Whether it passed or not a few weeks later, given time to digest accurate and truthful information, as well as another look at the businesses that should, or should not be impacted by the BID, the council should have been prudent and allowed and open and honest look at this BID creation and granted more time to have a future meeting and vote based on accurate facts and information.
Frank Yamamoto, Strom Peterson, and Diane Buckshnis, (and one other council person), should not support a MINORITY rules agenda, and should have felt some obligation to allow people to support or not support the BID proposal, using accurate and factual data and information.
Hopefully the entire council supports ALL local businesses, not only the ones between 2nd and 6th in the downtown area.
Respectfully submitted for constructive feedback on your process.