Business Improvement Districts [BIDs]

A Business Improvement District is a formal organization made up of property owners and commercial tenants who are dedicated to promoting improving an area’s quality of life and supporting grassroots economic development. BIDs deliver supplemental services such as sanitation and maintenance, public safety and visitor services, marketing and promotional programs, capital improvements, and beautification for the area – all funded by a special assessment paid by property owners within the district. Since inception, the City’s BIDs have collectively contributed millions of dollars in supplemental services to invigorate our neighborhoods.

BIDs are generally required by State and City law to adhere to strict transparency and operational protocols, allowing and encouraging broad input and public accountability, unlike other advocacy or non-profit organizations. 

Typically BIDs have formed in downtown and neighborhood commercial areas across the U.S. that have been drained due in part to disinvestment, online retail, 'big box' type stores, like Walmart, and malls, that have taken much of the sales - and foot traffic. By banding together, these business also have a stronger voice in lobbying for things like infrastructure and transportation improvements, neighborhood-serving businesses such as markets and better services for their area.1

Criticisms of Business Improvement Districts [BIDs]

BIDs are generally managed by private non-profit organizations; as in any organization the goals and priorities depends to some extent on the specific makeup of the leadership. Criticisms of BIDs include concerns about contributing to privatization of public spaces because private funds and resources are applied to areas in the public right-of-way.  

BIDs In Oakland

According to the Chamber of Commerce, as of 2016 there are 11 BIDs and CBDs (Community Benefit Districts). A map is available here.

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Links and References

  1. "City of Oakland: Uptown Downtown: Lake Merritt/Uptown and Downtown Districts" The Swig Company.
  2. "Whose streets? Oakland’s shadow government presses City Hall to end the occupation" by Adrian Drummond-Cole and Darwin Bond-Graham. Bayview. 11 Nov. 2011.


"The Disneyfication of Downtown Oakland: Business Improvement Districts and the Battle for Public Space." by Adrian Drummond-Cole and Darwin Bond-Graham. Street Spirit, March 2013. Print.