CBD Legislation

California Streets & Highways Code 36600-36671

Business based special assessment districts focused on commercial district revitalization, first emerged in California with the Parking and Business Improvement District Law of 1989, which allowed cities to establish parking and business improvement areas as a way to levy assessments on business owners. These assessments could then be used to finance a limited range of improvement activities. To counteract the shortfalls of the 1989 law, the Downtown Economic Improvement Coalition lobbied successfully for a supplemental statue allowing for both property and business-based assessments, and an expanded list of authorized expenditures necessary to address the multidimensional challenge of improving urban centers. Following the passage of the California Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 (California Streets and Highways Code 36600 et seq.), property-based special assessment districts focused on commercial district improvements emerged in California.

This law is the prevailing code for CBDs in San Francisco, and throughout the state.

The table of contents for California Streets & Highways Code can be found here, please scroll to section 36600 - 36671 for the text of the laws.

San Francisco Business & Tax Regulations Code, Article 15

In 2004, the City and County of San Francisco, augmented the California Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 with the passage of Article 15 of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code. Article 15 lengthened the initial term that a district could be in place from 5 to 15 years and lowered the weighted petition threshold required to initiate the legislative approval process and the special ballot election from 50% to 30%. This legislation, combined with a new technical assistance program initiated by then Mayor Gavin Newsom through the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, was instrumental in easing the process for the formation of new CBD districts in San Francisco.

The text of Article 15 can be found here.

California Streets & Highways Code 3110-3117.5

California Streets & Highways Code 3110 - 3117.5 governs how CBD maps must be recorded. In San Francisco, maps must be recorded and filed with the Office of the City Assessor.  

The text of this code can be found here.

California Constitution Articles 13 A, C, & D

Article 13A, C, & D of the California Constitution relate to taxation and special assessments throughout the state.

Article 13A sets limits on the amount of taxes which can be levied; Additionally Article 13A requires a 2/3 voter approval requirement for any special tax imposed by cities, counties, and special districts. Article 13A was added to the California Constitution through voter passage of Proposition 13in 1978.

Article 13C establishes local government tax limitations by classifying all taxes as either general or special. If tax money is collected towards a local agency's general fund then the tax is considered a general tax. If a tax is levied by or for a special district than it is a special tax, as is the case for CBDs. Article 13C requires that any special tax must be submitted to voters who would be paying the tax.

Article 13D states the types of assessments which can be placed on a property. The article requires that special and/or general benefit must be shown for properties which fall within a special district zone; any parcel found to receive a special benefit must be assessed in the special district. Additionally, a special district must hold a public hearing and mail advance notice of the public hearing to the record owner. Article 13D also provides for legally is acceptable for a public hearing and advanced mail notice; moreover, it places the burden of proof on the special district to prove compliance.

The text of Article 13A can be found here.

The text of Article 13C can be found here.

The text of Article 13D can be found here.

Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act  (CA Government Codes 53750-53758)

The Prop 218 Omnibus Implementation Act provides the guidelines on how Articles 13 A, C, & D are implemented throughout the state. 

The text of the Prop. 218 Omnibus Implementation Act can be found here.

The Brown Act

The Ralph M. Brown Act, located at California Government Code 54950 et sec., is an act of the California State Legislature passed in 1953, that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. All CBDs are required to abide by The Brown Act.

The text of the Brown Act can be found here.