Magnolia

Costumed carolers encourage the public to sing along during a past Holiday in the Park. The business members that organized the event have voted to disband. (File photo)

Members of the business district for Magnolia Park have voted to disband, ending a property tax assessment that brought hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for promotions and popular public events.

The Magnolia Park Partnership, which organizes annual events like Holiday in the Park and Be-Boppin’ in the Park, will dissolve at year’s end, officials said, after the vote that non-retail tenants carried.

The votes were weighted with the largest property owners getting the most influence. The vote came in 54.18% to 45.82% to not renew the district for another five years.

Property owners in the district pay 12 cents per square foot as part of an annual property assessment by the county, which then gives the money to the partnership. In addition, owners of ground-level properties pay an extra 5 cents per square foot.

The district generated $250,000 for the Magnolia Park Partnership last year.

Ira Lippman, chairman of the business district board, said he was disappointed with the outcome, saying the revenue helped promote the shopping area.

“Some people didn’t perceive the value of it,” he said. “It did such a great thing for the community and the businesses. It helped us bring lots of identification to the neighborhood and market the neighborhood.”

The events could continue without a business district, but the merchants would have to foot the bill, said Ruth Davidson-Guerra, assistant community development director for the city.

The district also funds enhanced maintenance, such as regular sidewalk cleaning and care of the ficus trees along Magnolia Boulevard, which often drop berries and branches, Davidson-Guerra said.

The board had also set aside $337,500 to construct a 39-space parking lot on Magnolia Boulevard near Screenland Drive, Davidson-Guerra said.

But when the city interviewed Magnolia Park property owners earlier this year, Davidson-Guerra said it was mostly those with non-retail offices who didn’t support keeping the district.

To address their concerns, property owners with offices would have received a 50% tax reduction under the new district contract, dropping the annual amount generated to $163,000, Davidson-Guerra said. But not even that concession was enough.

Burbank City Councilman David Gordon, an optometrist with an office in Magnolia Park for almost 30 years, said he has never supported the district. He said it shifts the tax burden to local property owners, who then pass the cost along to customers.

Gordon recused himself from voting during the council meeting last week when the matter came up for a possible vote. If a majority of Magnolia Park property owners had supported renewing the district, council members would have voted on whether to confirm the deal.

Gordon acknowledged the business district has funded some popular community events, but said they didn’t benefit his business or several other companies in Magnolia Park.

And given the stagnant economy, Gordon said, “this is not the time to be taxing people, particularly small businesses.”