From the daily archives: Tuesday, February 22, 2011

By Mario Conde

Downtown Calexico could change dramatically if a proposal to have digital billboards and Free WI-FI goes through.

A presentation was made weeks ago to the Business Improvement District and the Calexico Chamber of commerce by Daniel Chairez who wants to provide digital billboards at downtown Calexico in order to market the area with new technology and attract new customers. These digital billboards will also provide free internet for customers and businesses in downtown.

“Digital Billboards made an excellent match for our town. We are advertising for local markets, keeping the money locally and renewing our town to a new digital age.” Chairez said.

Chairez, along with his brother, are teaming up to consolidate this project in the near future. The project consists in installing LED, Plasma, and LCD displays at buildings around downtown that will show videos of Calexico businesses only. Chairez said he will only market Calexico businesses at downtown Calexico and not outside agencies that compete with downtown that would take sales tax to other cities.

“Imagine as you are driving or walking in downtown and you have these big High Definition screens giving the latest updates on the border wait, the value of the peso, special local events, and the bus schedules. All while checking your email or downloading music or videos on your Wi-Fi device. Downtown has always targeted and marketed to the older generation which makes it clear why many younger generations of shoppers don’t shop downtown.”

The process to have these digital billboards in Calexico will be a long one since it will require the approval of the Planning Commission and see where and how many digital billboards would be permitted in order to comply with the sign ordinance that was approved by the City last year.

“With Digital Billboards, we are moving along with today’s market. Keeping up with technology and blighting up our town with less power efficient billboards it’s like having our own little piece of Times Square or Vegas. This is something for generations to come see and feel proud of our City.” Chairez said.


By Mario Conde

While the future of the Redevelopment Agencies is in question, a new legislation has been introduced in Sacramento to give cities another financing option similar to redevelopment.

State Senator Louis Wolk (D-Davis) introduced SB 214 to ensure that municipalities still retain some tools to continue their economic development projects even if the Redevelopment Agencies are phased out. Brown’s budget proposal contains $12.5 billion in cuts and five years of higher taxes as a means to close a projected $25.4 billion deficit.

Wolk’s legislation, Senate Bill 214, works as compromise in the ongoing debate to eliminate or not the RDA. SB 214 would allow the Infrastructure Financing Districts (IFDs) to absorb many of the functions of the current redevelopment agencies. Wolk said that his will be a means to continue to provide economic development while ending the fears of school and special districts.

“It’s time to look ahead at practical alternatives that retain the ability of local governments to finance economic development,” said Wolk.

Cities and Counties are allowed to create an Infrastructure Financing District, or a specified area in which property taxes that would ordinarily go to the general fund are diverted to pay for development projects. These projects would include highways, transit, water and sewer projects, flood control, libraries, parks and recreation, and solid waste facilities. Unlike the Redevelopment Agency, an IFD cannot divert school property taxes and must have the approval from other local entities within the district. This legislation will extend the term of IFD bonds from 30 years to 40 years.  Also, IFD’s will not have the power of eminent domain. This legislation removes the statutory requirement for voters to approve the formation of an IFD or to issue debt, just as there is no voter approval requirement for RDAs to do the same.

“It’s not a question of whether redevelopment is good or bad,” said State Senator Wolk, who chairs the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. “As a former city council member and former county supervisor, I’ve seen redevelopment do considerable good for my community and for communities throughout the state. The question is can we continue to subsidize redevelopment agencies at the expense of schools and other core local services? For years, the state has had to pull from its general fund to backfill property tax funds diverted from K-14 education and local governments for the use of redevelopment agencies,” Wolk said. “We can no longer afford to do that without cutting essential services.  That leaves us with some hard choices to make. Californians have to decide what core services we expect government to provide with our limited resources.”


Ruben Garcia, District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) San Diego District Office, announced today that low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Imperial County residents and business owners affected by the severe winter storms, flooding, and debris and mud flows that occurred throughout parts of Southern California from December 17, 2010 through January 4, 2011.
SBA amended its February 2 declaration following damage assessments completed in San Diego County on February 9. The disaster declaration extends SBA assistance to Imperial County because it is contiguous to San Diego County. Disaster declarations issued by the Administrator of SBA include contiguous counties for both property damage and economic injury sustained as a result of storms.
The amended declaration now covers the California counties of Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, the neighboring Arizona counties of La Paz and Mohave and the neighboring Nevada county of Clark.
“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by the disaster,” said Garcia. Customer service representatives continue to be on hand at the following SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center in San Diego County to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application. The center will be open on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.
San Diego County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Serra Mesa Recreation Center, 9020 Village Glen Drive, San Diego, CA 92123
(from Aero Drive take Ruffin Road south & turn right on Village Glen)
Mondays through Fridays, 8 am – 4:30 pm, until further notice
Closed on February 21 in observance of President’s Day
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
Businesses of any size and private, non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
For small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.
Interest rates can be as low as 2.25 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for private, non profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based upon each applicant’s financial condition.
Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling SBA toll-free at (800) 659-2955, emailing, or visiting SBA’s Web site at Hearing impaired individuals may call (800) 877-8339.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at
The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is April 4, 2011. The deadline to return economic injury applications is November 2, 2011.
For more information, visit SBA’s Web site at
SBA Field Operations Center – West, P.O. Box 419004, Sacramento, CA 95841

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