Why Pioneer Square is so great
February 18, 2010  |  Business, Call to Action, PI, Politics

If you’re wondering what reason this might be (because there are so many I could list: reference), it’s because of all of the boundaries we have in our neighborhood. I’m sure that most of you that just have one boundary are feeling pretty jealous right about now.

Check it out:

In case you can’t read the key:
Red Historic District
Blue Business Improvement Area
Green Urban Village
Yellow Metropolitan Improvement District (For more info on the MID, click here.)

Just to clarify why this might be a problem:

The businesses within the BIA incur an additional tax that other Pioneer Square businesses aren’t subject to (although they can sign up if they’re interested). The ordinance is for retail level sales and then a percentage of sq ft for upper level businesses). The money from this tax is supposed to pay for programs to be implemented that would support the community. One of the problems is that it’s difficult to implement a program just within the BIA, and not on the surrounding blocks, which are still considered part of the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

Here’s an example at how it can be confusing to people: the holiday program only included businesses within the BIA; some businesses were frustrated that they couldn’t be a part of the program. People trying to shop down in Pioneer Square were confused which businesses were actually included in the program when they assumed all Pioneer Square businesses would be.

Right now, programs are only able to be implemented outside of the BIA if they receive additional funding, which is only gained through fundraising (which isn’t too easy to get nowadays). The lamppost banners were only allowed to be installed throughout what people consider “Pioneer Square” because they received private funding from ING.

PSCA also can’t receive money (aka employee salaries) from just the BIA because they operate programs and work to better the neighborhood outside of the small area. And see the note above regarding fundraising.

The city needs to reevaluate what area should actually be included in the BIA so that the rest of the neighborhood can benefit from all of the programs that the BIA tax contributes to. Although it’s not beneficial to include blocks that only include parking, it would only seem logical to me to have the boundary fit what people consider “Pioneer Square.”

Until then, you may continue being jealous of all of the colors of the maps that our neighborhood contains.


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