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Downtown SLO looks to add ambassadors

Posted at 8:53 PM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-08 01:50:42-04

San Luis Obispo city leaders are taking action to maintain a clean and safe downtown experience for both locals and visitors.

Organizers with Downtown SLO are working to form a Property-Based Improvement District or PBID.

City business owners, property owners, non-profit leaders, and other city representatives attended a meeting Friday morning to learn about the plan.

It would provide additional downtown ambassadors who would be cleaning city streets to make sure they’re safe and welcoming.

“Our organization currently has one ambassador who is interacting with the public. Doing all of those duties, cleaning, monitoring the streets, reporting to the city and interacting with our homeless population, trying to connect them to services. But that’s 40 hours a week, and in our downtown area, which is 35 city blocks, it’s just not possible for one person to do it alone,” said Bettina Swigger, CEO of Downtown SLO.

The plan is to hire four to five ambassadors.

City leaders are working with a company called Block by Block, which has worked in more than 100 cities across the U.S. providing these services for business improvement districts.

“One of the reasons these ambassador programs have been successful is because when you see somebody wearing a bright, colorful uniform, it’s just a continual presence. You know somebody else is watching out for you,” said Swigger.

Right now, the PBID program is in the petition signing process.

If enough property owners sign the petition by June 30, the program will be presented to the city council next month.

Organizers say PBID is a five-year program that would raise nearly $400,000 annually.

Downtown SLO business owners would pay a self-assessed property fee.

The soonest the program would go into effect is January of 2020.