Frequently Asked Questions
The most frequently asked questions about the Capitol Hill BIA
1. What is the Capitol Hill Business Improvement Area (BIA)?
A BIA is funded by ratepayers within a specific geography, through sales, property assessment or some combination of both. The proposed Capitol Hill BIA will be funded by an assessment on commercial and multi-family residential properties. The BIA will provide a range of services designed to keep Capitol Hill economically active and vibrant.
2. Why do we need the BIA?
“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” What defines an urban area is density – density of housing, people, businesses and activity. Most urban areas in the United States encourage BIAs because they provide value to commercial and residential property owners, in addition to visitors and employees. BIA’s fund services like public space activation, business development, marketing and street cleaning services. BIAs supplement the services provided by the City in dense neighborhoods, and create tailored programs to address street-level needs. Capitol Hill is changing and our needs are growing. We have more residents, small businesses, employees, visitors and students than ever before. Hundreds of stakeholders worked to develop the Capitol Hill 2020 (CH2020) plan, which is a roadmap to address the neighborhood’s growing needs. A BIA will provide the critical resources to implement the CH2020 plan.
3. What happens if the BIA does not receive enough support?
Without an expanded BIA, we simply will not have the resources to implement many of the priorities and needs identified in the CH2020 plan – priorities critical to the neighborhood. These include:
- Expanding successful cleaning, public safety and social services programs
- Preserving the character of Capitol Hill while balancing growth •Programming spaces, including Cal Anderson Park
- Promoting current businesses and attracting new ones
4. Which areas of Capitol Hill will be included in the new BIA?
The BIA area includes Broadway, Olive and Denny, 12th Ave., 15th Ave. E, 19th Ave. E, Melrose, and Pike/ Pine. Encompassing all of these areas will give the BIA the resources to develop a comprehensive plan for the community.
5. What specific services will a new business improvement area provide to Capitol Hill?
The proposed BIA will allocate an estimated $1.6 million to pay for:
- Sidewalk and street cleaning
- Graffiti removal on private property
- Enhanced Seattle Police Department resources
- Connecting people in need of housing, mental health, transportation and employment services
- Summer community events and concerts •Assistance with recruiting tenants for vacant store fronts
- Promotional campaigns to attract more visitors to Capitol Hill
- Economic reports to help Capitol Hill businesses grow
- Retail retention and recruitment
6. Doesn’t Capitol Hill already have a BIA?
Yes. Since 1986 we’ve had the Broadway Business Improvement Area (BBIA). It runs from Roy to Pike on Broadway. While BBIA provides some services, it is limited in both area and funding and unable to address the broad range of community needs identified in CH2020. When the new BIA passes, the BBIA will dissolve.
7. How will the services the new BIA offers be determined?
The new BIA will be governed by a board of directors representing the ratepayers (property owners). The BIA board will oversee how funds are spent and will hire an organization to implement the work. The Capitol Hill Alliance will be formed by neighborhood businesses, property owners and community stakeholders to manage the implementation of urban placemaking, business development, public safety and cleaning programs with funds approved by the BIA ratepayer board. BIA services 9 will evolve to meet the neighborhood’s needs to keep Capitol Hill vibrant, diverse, safe and welcoming for all. The number one priority will be identifying and addressing neighborhood needs and leveraging the BIA resources to benefit residents, businesses, property owners and visitors.
8. Why is a new BIA on Capitol Hill important?
Capitol Hill has been working to solve critical issues for years without sustainable funding. The Capitol Hill Chamber convened a diverse group of people to create CH2020 strategic plan, which is the guidepost for investments. A BIA will create a new resource to hire staff and fund programs that will make a real difference in the neighborhood.
9. What are the specific benefits of a new BIA?
A new BIA proposal is a community-driven approach that addresses street-level concerns while creating a comprehensive approach to business growth, urban placemaking and public safety issues. A BIA will fund critical actions like recruiting new businesses to fill empty store fronts, marketing the neighborhood to attract visitors, expanding street cleaning, physical improvements, including lighting, increased police presence and social services, and programming public spaces like Cal Anderson Park.
10. How is the assessment determined?
Three variables determine assessment:
- The impact a property has on the street front (lot square footage)
- total assessable value
- total taxable value
This model is similar to other neighborhood BIAs and utilizes the King County property tax assessment records which are publically available, transparent and consistent.
11. How was this specific BIA proposal developed?
A broad stakeholder group of neighborhood residents, property owners, businesses, institutions, and community organizations created the CH2020 strategic plan – an economic roadmap for the neighborhood in 2014, in a process that included wide-ranging community outreach. The CH2020 plan identified needs that require staffing and funding – things that a new BIA can provide.
12. Why is there a different assessment rate for tax-exempt property owners?
A key element of this BIA proposal is that it’s equitable and similar to how other BIAs in the city are structured. The rate proposed ensures that schools, social services, faith-based organizations and low-income housing continue to be part of the fabric of the Capitol Hill community. Keeping this diverse mix of tax-exempt organizations is an important value and a key part of our Capitol Hill 2020 strategic plan.
13. Who supports the Capitol Hill BIA?
- Major Institutions
- Property Owners
- Social Service Organizations
14. Will a new BIA cause gentrification?
No. When BIAs first started, they were mainly to pay for things like hanging flower baskets. Now, they help communities come together, solve common problems and offer things like wrap around social services, retail recruitment, retention and marketing. A new BIA will give Capitol Hill more resources to keep the neighborhood safe and clean, but it also will give us the ability to help those in need and make sure everyone who lives, works, goes to school or visits Capitol Hill feel connected to the neighborhood.
15. Won’t only large property owners benefit?
No. In fact, small businesses, residents, and students will benefit greatly because the neighborhood will continue to be a vibrant, diverse area with more services to address our challenges and needs. The BIA also gives us a better ability to address social service issues