Orland will pay for improvement district downtown
The city will pay to have a downtown Orland Specific Improvement District.
Following weeks of debate on the merits and potential problems with such a district, the Orland City Council approved $10,000 for the project Monday night.
The city's plan is to provide mini-grants of $500 to $1,000 to business and building owners to repaint and improve the store facades in downtown.
It will spend some of its sales tax money on the project to spur shopping in the one square block area of Fourth and Fifth streets between Walker and Colusa streets, city officials said.
Interim City Manager Gail Wingard proposed the district a few months ago and it quickly gained the endorsement of the Economic Development Commission.
Wingard said similar programs have helped other communities improve their downtown areas by stimulating exterior improvements in paint, windows, lighting and other needs.
"I still have some problems," Councilman Jim Paschall said. "This is a gift of public funds."
He also wanted to know what would happen if the money runs out and other business or property owners complain they did not get any.
Wingard said City Attorney Greg Einhorn has reviewed the district and indicated it is not a gift of public funds. Such districts are common around California.
The grants would be a 50 percent match and would not be paid until after the work is completed, Wingard added.
"It is an investment," Arts Commissioner Rae Turnbull said. "The city is investing in the businesses in town."
Turnbull also suggested the Arts Commission could recommend a color palate that would complement the neighbors, while still providing individuality for businesses.
Business and building owners Randy and Lynn Fortner expressed concern about the palliate issue — noting historic towns everywhere have a variety of color schemes.
But Turnbull said the red for their Garnet Hill store would work fine with what she had in mind.
"Yes, yes and yes," Mayor Wade Elliott said. "This is small first step. I see your concerns Jim, but a little paint goes a long way."
Councilman Bruce Roundy added, "There is a tendency in these economic times to do nothing. We don't have a lot of money, but there is some money to improve the town."
He also said the council needs to lead in this effort so he voted for it.
EDC Commission Helen Duree said she believes the grant program will get a "buy in" from business owners, and the Orland Area Chamber of Commerce supports the project as well.
"I'm not going to oppose it," Paschall said, "I just wanted to bring up my concerns so we would go with the right plan."
Participating business or building owners will fill out an application at City Hall.
Contact Rick Longley at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.