Page One

Downtown Association Adopts Three-Year Plan

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 01, 2009 - 09:08:00 AM

The Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) is moving in a new direction with the creation of a three-year strategic plan and a search for a new executive director in order to generate more revenue for the 20-year-old organization with hopes of making the downtown more attractive. DBA President Mark McLeod has revealed the organization’s intention to explore the creation of a property-based business improvement district (PBID) and a parking revenue district. The existing Business Improvement District is controlled by business owners, who are not necessarily property owners but can also be tenants. 

The DBA sent out a statement Wednesday saying that its executive director, Deborah Badhia, was named the operations director, a new role that will focus on community programs. 

“I’m excited about my new role and the changes for the DBA,” Badhia said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to growing our current programs and helping the organization move in a new direction.” 

DBA President McLeod said that the organization’s 2010–2012 strategic plan would guide its organizational priorities for the next three years. 

McLeod said the plan had been developed with the help of more than 20 community members over a period of nine months. 

“As the only organization representing downtown stakeholders, the DBA Board recognizes that we are operating in a competitive regional market and that we must work harder to make the downtown more attractive and welcoming to new and existing businesses, customers and visitors,” the statement from Badhia said. 

“We are excited about the DBA’s future as envisioned in the strategic plan. It represents a new 'take charge' direction for the DBA,” she continued. 

McLeod said the plan seeks to address retail vitality, cleanliness and safety by providing new services that would augment, not replace, existing services. 

The plan, available on the Downtown Berkeley Association website, outlines the services the organization intends to provide and proposes a strategy to raise funds from public and private sources to pay for them. 

McLeod said that it was important to continue the programs Badhia had created as executive director, including the Berkeley Host Ambassador Program, Buy Local Berkeley, the Downtown Berkeley Storefront Art Program and the Berkeley Business District Network. 

McLeod said that the new executive director would develop new revenue streams for the organization, serve as an advocate for the district to governmental agencies and conduct and implement strategic planning. 

“We will try to get the city to take really good care of the downtown,” he said. “It’s important to allow the DBA to do more than it was doing.” 

Under the property-based business improvement district, the city would collect money from property taxes instead of sales taxes in order to give it to the DBA. 

“We would get money from services other than retail,” McLeod said. “Some of the biggest properties downtown are UC Berkeley and the city itself. Up until now, those institutions have not been involved in giving money to the BID [Business Improvement District]. However, under the PBID, these large institutions would provide the money to run the BID, and as a result the DBA will be able to take on a larger workload.” 

Usually, in property-based business improvement districts, voting is based on property ownership rather than on business ownership. 

Under the parking improvement district, a percentage of the parking fees goes into the business improvement district. 

For more information on the new executive director search and the three-year strategic plan, visit