Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fulton Avenue

As one who grew up along Fulton (my father owned the first Volvo dealership in Sacramento, John's Motor Sales on Fulton just north of Arden), and still lives close by in Sierra Oaks, it has been good to see it being reborn and beginning to look quite nice.

Guiding Fulton's upgrade
Business improvement district helped pay for security, beautification.
By Chelsea Phua - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Thursday, May 31, 2007

Growing up in Sacramento, Melinda M. Eppler said Fulton Avenue in Arden Arcade functioned as the main street for her family. She witnessed its deterioration in the late 1980s and early 1990s as longtime businesses closed down or moved away. In July 2003, Eppler became the executive director of the Fulton Avenue Association, a 450-member business improvement district.

We asked Eppler about her background, the association's role in revitalizing the area, its relationship with the county and how it would be affected if Arden Arcade became a city.

Q: How did you start working for the Fulton Avenue Association?

A: While in between jobs, former Supervisor Muriel Johnson suggested that I speak to a small committee of association board members about the executive director position.

Q: Where did you work before joining the association?

A: I was director of communications at Sierra Health Foundation for five years (1998 to 2003).

The foundation recruited me from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, where I served under Gov. Pete Wilson as director of public affairs.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I worked for Accel Partners in San Francisco, Bakula Public Relations in Sacramento, and helped to manage the Sandy Smoley for Congress campaign. I also helped my dad, who was a career lobbyist for the state's health care industry, start up a newsletter focused on health policy. From 1986 to 1989, I lived in Washington, where I worked for Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, first as his receptionist, then as his scheduling secretary.

Q: What is your educational background?.

A: I went to Menlo College, a small liberal arts college in Menlo Park from 1982-1984. I transferred to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I majored in sociology and political science, graduating in 1986.

Q: What is the Fulton Avenue Association?

A: The Fulton Avenue Association is a group of property and business owners who tax themselves (through the property tax mechanism) to fund a property and business improvement district, or PBID. The PBID is Fulton Avenue between Arden Way and Auburn Boulevard.

The association has about 450 members, comprised of 130 property owners and 320 business owners. Ten members sit on the association's board of directors. I meet monthly with the board.

Each of the 130 property owners in the district is taxed based on the size of their individual parcel -- .02 cents per square foot of the total parcel, plus $8.50 per linear foot of Fulton Avenue frontage. The range of individual assessments in the district is $565 per year to $17,000 per year. The total amount collected from all properties is $370,000 annually. Each year since the association's inception in 1998, the county of Sacramento has matched, or closely matched, the association's total assessment amount using transient occupancy tax (hotel tax money) or earmarked economic development funds.