During the HCBID Annual Meeting this first quarter, the HCBID will hold elections for Board of Directors seats. Major business owners and property owners within HCBID boundaries are eligible to elected.

We ask that anyone interested in running for a board seat, please contact HCBID Executive Director Blair Besten at blair@historiccore.bid as soon as possible.

Additional information and updates will be posted on our website as they become available.

Engineers Report
Management District Plan

The homeless crisis in downtown LA is getting worse. NBC’s Conan Nolan taks with Blair Besten from the Historic Core Business Improvement District and Patti Berman from the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council. Both women live in downtown and see it first hand. They are trying to address it. (Published Sunday, Jan 17, 2016)

LINK TO VIDEO INTERVIEW with Blair Besten and Patti Berman.



JANUARY 27, 2017, The City of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES—Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced four appointees to the HHH Citizens Oversight Committee, an administrative council that will play a vital role in developing housing for homeless Angelenos funded through a bond measure approved by L.A. voters.

The Mayor’s appointees are Kerry Morrison, David Ambroz, Miguel Santana, and Beatrice Hsu. The other three members of the Citizens Oversight Committee have been appointed by the City Council: Blair Besten, Tiffany Boyd, and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk.

“Angelenos approved Prop. HHH because residents want to take part in ending our homelessness crisis,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The measure was designed to give everyone in our City the opportunity to have a say in how and where dollars are spent and housing is built. The Citizen’s Oversight Committee is made up of thoughtful, dedicated people with the integrity to help guide that process — and to make sure resources are allocated equitably and transparently. We’re building a great team that can be counted on to keep the best interests of our people and L.A.’s neighborhoods at heart.”

Last November, Angelenos approved the Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing, and Facilities Bond (Proposition HHH), authorizing the City to issue up to $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds for up to 10,000 units of housing and support facilities for unsheltered Angelenos over the next 10 years.

The Citizen’s Oversight Committee will provide input, review plans, and make recommendations on bond proceed expenditures and proposed projects to the Proposition HHH Administrative Oversight Committee — which will be comprised of members of Offices of the Mayor, the City Administrative Officer, and the City Legislative Analyst.

Morrison currently serves as the Executive Director for the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. She was a Commissioner at the Los Angeles Homeless Services (LAHSA) from 2011-2016. She is also on the board for the United Way Home for Good Business Leaders Task Force, and for The Center at Blessed Sacrament.

Ambroz is the Director of Corporate Citizenship & Social Responsibility at Disney. He also serves as the President of the Citywide Planning Commission.

Santana served as the City’s Administrative Officer and recently left the City to lead the Los Angeles County Fair Association. He helped lead the City in assembling its comprehensive Homelessness Strategy Report.

Bea Hsu is Senior Vice President for Development at Brookfield Properties, responsible for Brookfield’s multifamily development activities on the west coast. She is a member of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, a former Vice Chair of the City of Los Angeles Industrial Development Authority, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Larchmont Charter Schools. She is a member of the Planning Program Advisory Board of the University Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.


By Catherine Saillan, LA Times, November 6, 2013

Los Angeles City Council members agreed Wednesday to dramatically cut the cost and speed up processing of sidewalk dining permits in the reawakening downtown core.

Under a pilot program that was unanimously approved by the council, restaurant owners will pay about $577 for a sidewalk dining permit, compared to the typical $2,000 charged for city workers to process the paperwork.

And instead of taking up to a year to obtain a permit, the wait should be just a few weeks, officials said.

The pilot program is limited to restaurants between First and Seventh streets, and Broadway and Los Angeles Street in the Historic Core. If the model proves successful, it could be expanded to other areas, said Councilman Jose Huizar, who authored the legislation and represents the area.

As new restaurants and cafes pop up in the downtown area almost weekly, sidewalk dining has become an attractive option that brings energy and life to the streets, Huizar said.

But downtown business owners are frustrated by how long it takes to obtain a permit to legally place tables, fences, landscaping and umbrellas in the public right-of-way, he said. In March, a flurry of citations for unpermitted street furniture brought howls of protest from cafe owners.

In a report to the council, City Engineer Gary Lee Moore said the city is six weeks behind on processing permits and could cut the backlog in half if another engineering associate is hired to review paperwork.

Under the changes approved Wednesday, the city will no longer require a visual inspection, relying instead on an applicant’s photographs and proposed drawings. Permit costs drop dramatically because staff time per applicant is shorter, Moore said.

Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Core Business Improvement District, thanked the council for approving the pilot program. Downtown is not only a growing residential and retail center, she said, but increasingly a tourist destination.

“There’s no doubt that the sidewalk seating, planters and cafes are setting that atmosphere,” she said.

A similar proposal by Councilman Gil Cedillo, covering portions of Figueroa Avenue and the Wilshire Corridor, is still being reviewed in council committees.


By Donna Evans, LA Downtown News, April 10, 2014

Planning to make a special visit to or even just wander around the Old Bank District or Broadway, and not sure what exactly you want to do?

The Historic Downtown Los Angeles Business Improvement District can help, and it doesn’t require anything more than a sliver of space in your pocket. The BID has just released a pedestrian-oriented mini pamphlet with area highlights.

Executive Director Blair Besten said local artists Ari Simon and Phoebe Unterman developed the pamphlet dubbed “Walk the Historic Core.” Double-sided and detailed with historical tidbits — a century ago Spring and Main were the spine of the “Wall Street of the West” — the maps are meant to be a fun and historical keepsake, Besten said. They also highlight options at intersections including Fourth and Main and Ninth and Broadway.

“Walk the Historic Core” is available at the BID’s security office at 453 S. Spring St., suite 1116, but soon will be distributed in stores and cafes throughout district.


by Ryan Vaillancourt, Staff Writer, LA Downtown News Dec 2, 2011

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Last month, few job offers seemed as unenticing as the post of executive director of the Historic Downtown Los Angeles Business Improvement District.

In September the board of the BID, which taxes Historic Core property owners to pay primarily for street cleaning and security services, fired longtime head Russell Brown in a session that many alleged violated public meeting laws. They then hired Roberto Saldaña, whose former employer had clashed with 14th District City Councilman José Huizar. Under pressure from Huizar, the BID voided the Saldaña hire and opened up the position to applicants.

After a month of politically charged rhetoric and intense scrutiny, the board hired Blair Besten. The veteran of the Downtown real estate scene had worked for developers the Kor Group (Santa Fe Lofts, the Pegasus) and Amerland (the Alexandria Hotel, the Rosslyn Lofts). Most recently, she worked in commercial real estate with broker Ed Rosenthal.

In her first month as director, Besten, who says she took a pay cut to join the BID, oversaw an effort to expand the district. It passed, just months after a previous effort had failed. Now, she plans to focus on more neighborhood improvement projects and building the community support that will be necessary to renew the BID in December 2013.

Los Angeles Downtown News: Given the controversy and infighting, why did you want this job?
Blair Besten: After I heard the position was available and some people suggested I go for it, it took me a week and a half to mull it over and weigh the pros and cons. I knew absolutely what I was getting into. And, for the work that’s involved, there’s talk about the salary not being adequate. But I have a deep love of Downtown and it just made sense for me. It’s the old adage, there’s more to life than just money. I knew this job would be something I could sink my teeth into and hopefully make the area better and make the BID work better.

Q: How does your real estate development background prepare you for this job?
A: This is a chance to do what I was doing with individual developers for a mass of developers, and to effect change on a grander scale. A lot of the skill sets will be good for the job, like creative negotiating, working with the city and working with people in general. I see challenges in an optimistic way. That comes from working with developers. A developer will say, “We need to get this done,” and you don’t get to say, “That’s impossible, no.” They’ll look at you and say, “Then what are you here for? You’re fired.” So you figure out how to get it to work.

Q: What was your first priority?
A: Expansion. We needed the money, bottom line. Secondly, on many deep levels, we needed that success. I think it could be a good indication going forward of how it will be with the renewal. Do people believe in us? We needed to reassert ourselves.

Q: Why did the expansion fail at first, and why were you successful the second time?
A: It’s my understanding that there was a technical error, which enabled us to do a vote again. Also, the language on the ballot was unclear. People were under the false impression that their assessment would go up. But ultimately, it was about campaigning and that has to be done on a grassroots, relentless level. We did that the second time.

Q: You were hired in part to steer the BID in what board members called a “new direction.” What is that direction?
A: It’s about going beyond clean and safe. Right now, that’s the bulk of our budget. Our clean and safe vendors do their job really well. That leaves us with bringing new business into the area; branding and marketing our neighborhood; unifying our building owners; and really networking with the stakeholders. This is the best neighborhood in Downtown, I think. But when you see empty storefronts, we haven’t done our job. And we need to take a more upfront role with neighborhood initiatives like Art Walk and a farmers market.

Q: State law requires BIDs to spend the majority of their budget on clean and safe services. How much wiggle room do you have to spend money on other efforts?
A: Very little. We need free help. One of the other great things about this neighborhood is there are so many creative people who want to contribute and put their time in. It’s about utilizing the creative resources we have right here.

Q: In 2013, property owners will vote on whether or not to renew the BID for five years. What would be the impact of BID expiration?
A: Enjoy seeing bags of trash pile up and dog waste on the sidewalk forever. There are times when it’s overlooked, but many parts of these streets would never get power washed. We get 40 hours of power washing a month in our budget that would go away. The Christmas decorations, which I think are important, would go away. When you get scared and call the police and they are overwhelmed and can’t respond right away, our people are there in a matter of minutes. They’re first responders and liaisons. I think they make people feel more secure.


10 October 2017 - Code Brown