Council extends BID for another year

Laguna's hotels and motels will pour more than $1.33 million into the city's pool of art-related institutions, programs and organizations in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The City Council on Tuesday extended the Business Improvement District for another year, with no opposition from hotel and motel owners, who will be upping their contribution by $30,000 over the previous year.

"You have made an incredible difference," Mayor Toni Iseman said. "You pump money into the cultural community."

The district is funded by the hotel and motel owner's voluntary addition to the bed taxes imposed by the city. The $30,000 increase is reflected in an increase in the city's revenue from the bed tax.

Officially, the district is a levy by the city, sanctioned by the Legislature as a means to promote economic revitalization and tourism, create jobs, attract new businesses and prevent the erosion of business districts.

However, the district could be discontinued.

Annual public hearings are required to renew the district. Every hostelry in Laguna is notified to allow an opportunity to protest the assessment.

The district was created in 2001, proposed by then-Councilman Paul Freeman and businessman and arts patron Sam Goldstein after they got an agreement from a majority of hotel and motel owners.

An advisory board was established that includes the mayor, mayor pro tem, city manager and four members appointed by the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau. They make an annual report, summarizing the activities in the district and have recommended its continuation since its founding.

BID funds are allocated to cultural activities and organizations that are deemed to bring tourists to Laguna Beach, a benefit to the hotels and motels in town.

California Arts Council Chairwoman Malissa Feruzzi Shriver was the keynote speaker Monday night at the Laguna College of Art & Design graduation, which Iseman attended.

"She said she thinks that Laguna is the first community to turn itself into a cultural destination," Iseman said. "That's bragging rights!"

Outgoing LCAD President Dennis Power, who was at the council meeting, expressed his thanks to the city, the bureau and the city's lodging industry for its support for the college.

LCAD receives an allocation from the district. Next fiscal year the district will distribute $133,000 to LCAD, the Laguna Art Museum, the Laguna Playhouse, the Laguna Beach Arts Commission, and community arts organizations and $665,000 to the bureau.

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