Responses from and More Questions for the Diamond Business Improvement District

Aug 13, 2020

Ms. Lilliana Garcia, Executive Director
Southeastern Diamond BID
415 Euclid Avenue, Suite K-13
San Diego, CA 92114

Dear Ms. Garcia:

Thank you for your August 8th response to our questions. It was somewhat disappointing that you didn’t respond with the transparency and engagement that we were looking for in terms of understanding the marketing and efforts to broaden the impact of the BID.

With reference to your specific responses I am providing a few additional questions for further clarification.

We’ve made many efforts to recruit local business members to the board with little success. If you have a business owner in mind that could serve, please send me their information. We will be happy to talk to them. Although our board elections just took place last month, our bylaws give the board the ability to appoint new members to our board. 

 So to be clear, there is no-one outside of the businesses located at Euclid & Imperial that are interested in serving on the Board of the Diamond BID (Diamond)? I suspect that may have something to do with the Diamond’s limited visibility.  

The NAACP is a 100% volunteer organization and as such has very limited ability to recruit for the BID. We will forward your willingness to consider new board members to our  Economic Development Committee as well as the general membership, but we believe recruitment is the responsibility of the BID.

You also state that your board elections were held last month. Please provide the date the election was held, the names of the Board members, the new officers and their terms.

BID-Our strategic plan is outdated and even if it wasn’t, it would be now given our times of COVID-19.  We are having a special board retreat at the end of this month and I will make sure that this letter is presented to the full board.  Additionally, as a courtesy, we will share the results of our retreat with you and we will of course upload it on our new website. 

You have noted that your Strategic Plan is outdated and that even if it weren’t COVID-19 would render it outdated. If we agree that a strategic plan connects your mission, your purpose and your vision, then are you saying all elements will be revised at your retreat? Looking forward to seeing the results of your retreat.

As per our involvement with the community planning groups, we only attend if invited to support  our members or development projects supported by the organization.  

This is a disappointing strategy for engaging those impacted by the BID and its members. It would seem that your attendance at the Chollas Valley (Encanto) and Southeastern San Diego Community Planning groups would provide insight into the neighborhoods immediately impacted by proposed developments. This in turn would equip you and your members with information beneficial not only to members with development projects but also those with existing businesses. Take for example the proposed development at Hilltop and Euclid. Hypothetically, it would be nice to know that Bowlegged Barbecue on Market Street in the BID will not have to compete with a barbecue restaurant in the commercial space planned for Euclid Avenue. What happens in those instances when a project may be antithetical to what is best for the neighborhood in which it is planned? Your approach seems to preclude a true vetting of member projects with impacted residents and adjacent business owners.

We understand the importance of the Diamond BID, and hope your noted changes to the website and the newly elected Board will result in new energy.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Cc: Board of Directors, SDBD
Monica Montgomery, Co-Chair City-County Reinvestment Task Force
Nathan Fletcher, Co-Chair City-County Reinvestment Task Force
Mayor and San Diego City Council

See our original letter here.

Questions for the Diamond Business Improvement District

Aug 4, 2020

Ms. Lilliana Garcia, Executive Director
Southeastern Diamond BID
415 Euclid Avenue, Suite K-13
San Diego, CA 92114

Dear Ms. Garcia:

Unfortunately, I have not received a response to my original email dated July 28, 2020 and forwarded to you by SDBD Board members Jamal Jackson, US Bank and Jr. Minister Hugh Muhammad, regarding the area in and around the intersection of Imperial Avenue and Euclid Avenue; specifically Huffman Plaza. I am writing to again ask for your response to my email as well as clarification on certain items related to the operation of the Southeastern Diamond Business Improvement District. 

According to the SDBD website your Mission Statement is as follows: 

The Mission of the Diamond Business Association is to foster economic prosperity by advocating for and promoting the growth of businesses in the Diamond District.

The Diamond name is derived from the geographic location of the corridors, which as depicted by your map, is a diamond. That brings me to my first set of questions.

1) Representation: It appears that the make-up of the Board of Directors (minimum of 7 and maximum of 13) includes only three businesspersons whose business are actually located in the SDBD. Three others use the Ochi Courtyard (5003 Imperial Avenue: The BID Cowork Space) as their business address. Finally, the Board Chair is an associate member and also the head of Civic San Diego. 

The Diamond Cowork is owned and operated by the Diamond Business Association, Inc. We manage the manage the Diamond Business Improvement District (BID). We are the first BID managed cowork and the first cowork in our district. (Source Diamond Cowork website).

Question 1-A: Isn’t it a conflict of interest for BID Board Members to also rent space in The Diamond Cowork? 

Three of the current seats are expired and it appears that McCord has already served two terms beginning when he was co-owner of the Alpha Club.

Question 1-B: What is the marketing that occurs to attract new members and then to encourage participation on the board? Where are you in implementing the schedule identified in the By-Laws Article VII Election of Directors?

Question 1-C: Please explain why there isn’t more diverse geographic representation on the board? The boundaries include two industrial parks Gateway Center East (anchored by Costco and Raven Street), businesses along Logan Market street, Federal Blvd. etc. giving us the opportunity to have corporate support where currently there is none. Cox Communications, Coke Cola, KGTV Channel 10 are all businesses that could be a big help to the area and would add substantial presences to the SDBD board.

2) Vision: I started with the Mission Statement for a reason: the words economic prosperity stick out. What is the vision? Not to compare apples and oranges but Little Italy has a very successful BID. Yes, there are many reasons why; one of the strongest being the celebration of the history of the area. 

The Diamond BID was created in large part due to the late Brooks Huffman, working with the late Councilman George Stevens. Why is this important? Because he started his own business, Huffman Barbeque, in 1967. Three of the BID members are located in an office immediately east of Brooks Huffman Plaza. It was Brooks Huffman who convinced Councilman Stevens to install the lights on the overpasses in 1999. The website speaks to none of this, and the plaza is currently a disgrace to his name and what he tried to do. 

Ochi Nursery will be remembered because it is now the site of apartments that carry the same name, but who knows the story? There is historic significance to Ochi Nursery. Bronze Beauty Salon, Gentry Barber Shop are 2nd generation businesses still operating… who knew?

Question 2-A: When will you use the history of the area to make the community proud again, and enlist their support in the effort to generate economic prosperity? 

Question 2-B: Why isn’t there a strong plan to finally and creatively take care of Huffman Plaza? There are at least three plans on the books that are implementable and can serve as the catalyst to encourage support of a Maintenance Assessment District (MAD). There was support in the early 2000’s and if residents and business owners can actually see what the funds (in part) would be used for, they would support it. This would help to attract new businesses to all of the ground floor retail that is currently empty.

3) Final Questions

Question 3-A: We would like a copy of the latest SDBD Strategic Plan.

Question 3-B:  Is there a reason the Valencia Business Park RFP is not noted on the SDBD website under Available Commercial Property?

Question 3-C: What is the SDBD’s official position on the proposed Wellness Center on Market Street and why?

Question 3-D: How does the BID interface with the Chollas Valley and Southeastern San Diego Community Planning Groups? 

The economic heart of our community rests in the strength of our businesses. We need to understand what is being done and how it can be improved.

Thank you in advance for your responses.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Cc: Board of Directors, SDBD
Monica Montgomery, Co-Chair City-County Reinvestment Task Force
Nathan Fletcher, Co-Chair City-County Reinvestment Task Force
Mayor and San Diego City Council

See our response to their response here.

Union Bank and the Promise Zone

July 31, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer
City Admin Building
11th Floor 202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Council President Gómez
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Cate
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Moreno
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Bry
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Kersey
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Sherman
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Campbell
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Montgomery
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Ward
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

To the Mayor and the San Diego City Council:

If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far go together.

—African Proverb

For hundreds of years the lives of African-Americans have not been valued by our society.  We have been enslaved and discriminated against, either directly in law or by laws carefully designed to seem neutral but actually to be discriminatory.  As a result, we have been unable to accumulate the resources to cushion the effects of disasters like COVID-19.

We therefore ask the Mayor and City Council of San Diego to pay very careful attention to those institutions that support people in the Promise Zone, and not allow major institutions to treat them with disrespect and neglect. You know our needs are dire; 97% of the kids in the zone are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.  The long history of advantage society has given to others means we need your assistance now.

The Promise Zone continues to be neglected by major corporations, and yet neither the Economic Development Department, the Diamond Business Improvement District, nor the City takes an interest.  We are putting you on notice, and we expect you to put them on notice, that we are not going to tolerate this kind of mistreatment any longer.

Yet another major financial institution, this time Union Bank, has chosen to ignore its obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act and close its branch at Federal and Euclid (see attached).  This puts a great deal of extra stress on residents of the area, who now must travel all the way to Rolando on public transportation during the COVID pandemic. Please use your influence to get Union Bank to reverse this decision.

School will start in less than a month, and our students will once again be home instead of in the classroom.  They’ll have the electricity for distance learning, even if their parents are out of work, since SDG&E is being understanding.  They may not, however, have the Internet, since Cox is not offering forgiveness on bills.  Perhaps the City can use its influence to get relief to Promise Zone kids who need to learn.

Where, in all this, is the Diamond Business Improvement District?  Why are they not watching out for our residents and exerting their influence over businesses in the area?  Could it be because there are vacant board seats going unadvertised?  Could it be because the board President is an employee of Civic San Diego, and thus has a conflict of interest?

We are weathering two crises now; the COVID-19 virus and the COVID-19 economic depression.  We need bold leadership to see all of our citizens through these two threats.  The people of San Diego will not accept less!

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Valencia Business Park: Hasty RFP Doesn’t Remedy Long Neglect

July 22, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer
City Admin Building
11th Floor 202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Council President Gómez
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Cate
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Moreno
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Bry
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Kersey
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Sherman
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Campbell
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Montgomery
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Ward
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Mayor and Members of the San Diego City Council,

The residents of the City’s 4th District have been waiting since 2006 for the Valencia Business Park Property to be Developed.  We all know how poorly the site was handled then, and how the residents of the 4th District had the anticipated benefit snatched away because of insider deals and poor management.  We wondered then if such a debacle would have occurred in a different area of the city.

The land remains vacant and undeveloped to this day.  

Now the City is once again promising to develop the site.  Sadly, we see this effort as doomed to fail.  The City has not taken the intervening decade to work through a solid, fair RFP process and get a solid, successful development in the Valencia Business Park property.  Instead, the City is throwing out an RFP with less than two months for developers to respond.  Where has your sense of urgency been for the last decade?  It is gut-wrenching to see careless haste being used to cover so many years of inaction.  It is gut-wrenching to see a process that will give no one new and innovative a chance, but will only favor the same developer who already has purchased so much of the area.

We need developments that generate tax revenue. We need more grocery stores.  We need less pollution.  The Earl B Gilliam Post Office that will anchor the development will bring much traffic to the area, and we need the Business Improvement District to do its job and fill the vacant storefronts and produce an environment around the Valencia Business Park that will be conducive to success. 

Speaking of success, we are puzzled that the City chose to return the Federal money contingent on the creation of jobs, and yet you promise “72” jobs from this development.  Why 72?  Such a specific number must come from somewhere; we hope it isn’t from a proposal you anticipate seeing from a particular developer.  Furthermore, what the area needs is good jobs for area residents, with potential for growth.  We don’t like to see wording that seems to limit the sorts of jobs brought in, even to laudable things like service to the community.

Stop this 21st-Century redlining.  Stop treating us like a population that must be forever on “life support.” Give us what is fair, so we can thrive, and see just what the residents of the 4th District can do with opportunity rather than neglect and ill-considered promises.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Protect Our Black Businesses

NAACP Apply for these programs today
 
 
 
 
 
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As part of our ongoing commitment to the sustainability of Black businesses and economic empowerment for communities of color, NAACP is proud to partner with two prominent organizations to provide support for Black businesses that have fallen on tough times in recent months.
 


NAACP x BeyGOOD

The NAACP is delighted to administer a meaningful program in partnership with BeyGOOD’s Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund to assist our small business communities that have been directly impacted by the recent events across the country. The grants in the amount of $10,000 will be offered to Black-owned small businesses in select cities to help sustain businesses during this time.
 

 

Apply for BeyGOOD's Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund

 

Eligible grant cities include Houston, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis and the deadline to apply is this Saturday, July 18.
 

 

Apply for BeyGOOD's Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund

 


NAACP x DiversityCapCo

Diversity Capital Company, LLC (DiversityCapCo), a subsidiary of NexTier Companies, LLC, and the NAACP are proud to announce the formation of an economic empowerment platform powered by DiversityCapCo. The goal is to deploy between $500 million to $1 billion over the next five to seven years in the minority business community by developing and staffing an outreach campaign in the largest 25 cities, and surrounding regions, in the United States in collaboration with the NAACP field offices.  

 

Apply for the DiversityCapCo Paycheck Protection Program

 

One of the immediate initiatives of this joint venture is to support small business owners in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Learn more about and apply for the PPP through DiversityCapCo before the August 8 deadline.

 

Apply for the DiversityCapCo Paycheck Protection Program

 


We welcome the opportunity to continue to partner with organizations to develop more opportunities for Black economic sustainability and to proactively dismantle the structures that have held many people of color back.

Fighting Forward,

Derrick Johnson
@DerrickNAACP
President and CEO
NAACP
 
 
 
     


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SAECC COVID-19 Resurgent Fund

June 7, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer
City Admin Building
11th Floor 202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Council President Gómez
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Cate
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Moreno
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Bry
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Kersey
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Sherman
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Campbell
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Montgomery
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Ward
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Mayor and Members of the San Diego City Council,

You have recently received a proposal for a COVID-19 Resurgent Fund and Task force from The Strategic Alliance of Ethnic Chambers of Commerce (SAECC), comprised of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, Asian Business Association of San Diego County, San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has identified six game changers that address major areas of inequality facing African Americans.  These game-changers are the focus of the work of the NAACP San Diego Branch.  The very first of those game-changers is Economic Sustainability: every person must have equal opportunity to achieve economic success, sustainability, and financial security.

We therefore write in very strong support of SAECC’s proposal.  We stand ready to assist the SAECC and the City in changing the narrative of economic depression that has gripped so many communities in San Diego.  Business in our underserved districts both DESERVE and DEMAND a fair shake at reopening their businesses as we move through this unprecedented epidemic.  Furthermore, the closure of these businesses would have a terrible follow-on effect on the lives and morale of the residents of these communities.

The City of San Diego, in the persons of its Mayor and Members of its City Council, has an unprecedented opportunity to open the door to economic recovery for our businesses, if for once the Mayor will show bolder leadership.  The SAECC are united in a way never before seen, and we are right there with them.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

COVID19-Resurgent-Task-Force_Recommendation-10-00

Parking on Market

June 3, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer
City Admin Building
11th Floor 202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Council President Gómez
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Cate
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Moreno
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Bry
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Kersey
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Sherman
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Campbell
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Montgomery
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Ward
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

To the Mayor and the San Diego City Council:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has identified six game changers that address major areas of inequality facing African Americans.  These game-changers are the focus of the work of the NAACP San Diego Branch. We are writing to you today to discuss one of those game-changers:  Economic Sustainability.

Our ask today is not expensive or difficult.  It is a simple matter that can make a great deal of difference in the lives of small business owners among our constituents.

 We ask Council President Gómez and Mayor Faulconer to justify the saturation of red curbs in the Market Street Corridor from 36th Street to 47th Street.  We have been contacted by many members wondering why they can’t patronize, for example,  Chicago Grill without fear of getting a ticketed or towed. Many service men and women who have dedicated their lives to this country work on the 32nd Street Military Base. They would like to come to the Good Food District twice or more per week but cannot. Where is the Diamond BID? Why isn’t anyone doing so simple a thing as examining parking to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve economic success, sustainability and financial security. We need 30-minute green curbs, as well as a full traffic study on the Market Corridor.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch