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By Kim Murphy
Murphy & Murphy Southern California Realtors 

Real Estate Round-Up: What in the world is a Community Benefit District?


Last updated 10/8/2018 at 4:27pm

A few weeks back I wrote an article that garnered considerable response from my readers. I reported on the dry and dead foliage that exists on many of Fallbrook’s parcels and the existence of trash along our streets and in our downtown. All of this has a negative effect on real estate values. Buyers are looking not only for a home but for a community they want to call home.

Unbeknownst to me, a group of Fallbrook’s over-achieving volunteers had begun discussions two years ago about the same concerns. Jerri Patchett, Lila MacDonald and others recognized that one of the ways to maintain and enhance Fallbrook would be through the development of a Community Benefit District.

What in the world is a Community Benefit District? A community benefit district (CBD) is a public-private partnership formed to provide improvements and other benefits within a designated district. The boundaries must be specific, and the vision of the district acknowledges that all land uses, not simply businesses, must benefit from the revenue flow generated by the assessment district.

The state approved the ability for communities to create these districts so local merchants and the public could band together to form an association dedicated to reviving business. Residents, property owners, and businesses in the district must have a clear need for services that are over and above the general benefit services provided by the city or county.

That said, there are a vast variety of services that can legally be funded by CBDs. As a property assessment district, a CBD must "confer special benefit to real property owners," according to California law. Normally, these services represent special benefits geared toward order and cleanliness in the district such as daily sidewalk cleaning, removal of trash and teams to remove graffiti.

Other services that CBDs could provide include security, beautification, marketing and promotion, special events, business attraction, district identity and administrative oversight.

They hosted three community meetings to assess the interest in this program with business owners and residents within the Fallbrook Public Utility District. With the support from the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, Fallbrook Land Conservancy, Fallbrook Village Association, Fallbrook Trails Council, Save our Forests and Fallbrook Beautification Alliance, a program was presented that shared in a general way what kinds of activities could be accomplished by the district. Currently, it is these nonprofits that have raised funds and provided the volunteers to maintain what we currently have.

The county designates a portion of the yearly budget to Fallbrook. Those funds pay for many of the services we receive. However, a thriving town is much more than basic services.

When was the last time you drove north on South Mission Road? I’m sure you have noticed the lovely flowering median that begins at Fallbrook High School and runs to Rocky Crest Road – that is not created or maintained by the county – it was planned, built, and maintained by the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance and their many supporters.

Have you noticed the flowering potted trees and bushes on Main Avenue? Those were also planned, provided, and maintained by the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance and the Save our Forests group.

Have you noticed the stacked stone monument welcoming you to Fallbrook or the Fallbrook signs directing you to the library, or the downtown shopping district? Thank the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce for that!

Look at the youth sports parks – they were bought with grant money but are now maintained by volunteers who care about our children. I could write a full-page article about everything that enhances Fallbrook, and the volunteers that make it possible.

Many of these volunteers have been giving freely of their time and money for decades. They are not going to be able to continue to provide this “free” support forever, and there aren’t people standing in the wings waiting to step into their shoes.

We must find a solution so the charm that we appreciate continues to be maintained and we are able to enhance Fallbrook with additional enhancements.

Fallbrook Public Utility District has latent powers that allow it to step in to administer the funds collected for the Community Benefits District. If the community supports this, we would have 100 percent control over how the funds raised will be used.

The funds can only benefit nonprofit entities such as Vince Ross Village Square or Heritage Park. The funds cannot be used for private property. Service providers would be hired to continue to do what the volunteers are currently doing, and every effort would be made to hire Fallbrook businesses or residents, so the funds raised would ultimately go back into our community when the service providers shop in Fallbrook. It is truly a win/win/win.

You must be asking, “so what’s the catch?” How does $5 per month sound? The cost of a latté or microbrew, and less than the cost of a movie ticket. If you’re not sure, take a stroll or a drive down Main Avenue and South Mission Road and imagine no flowers, just tons of concrete or asphalt.

I am grateful for the years of service provided by the volunteers, like Jackie Heyneman. I don’t want her work to be in vain. I want Fallbrook to continue to charm the residents and our visitors for years to come. I also believe we can be even better than we are.

I also know that when a community is well cared for and vibrant, real estate values will positively be affected. Buyers buy not only a home but the town it is a part of. A vibrant and beautiful town will add to the value of your real estate.

I urge you to find out more about the Community Benefit District and how you can get involved and support the effort to help us take care of Fallbrook’s resources for the future.

Kim Murphy can be reached at or (760) 415-9292 or at 130 N. Main Ave. in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.


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