DSMA Downtown Business Improvement Area

DSMA Downtown Business Improvement Area

Introduction: Downtown San Mateo Association

The DSMA is the advisory board appointed by the City Council of the City of San Mateo to make recommendations to the Council on the expenditure of revenues derived from the levy of fee collected through the annual business license tax for businesses in the Downtown Business Improvement Area ("DBIA").  The City established the DBIA fee in 1986 to provide decorations, promote public events, furnish music, and generally promote business activities within the DBIA.  More recently, the DSMA has focused on beautification and cleanliness, public outreach, promotion of the DBIA, and events.

Changing Times in Downtown San Mateo

Downtown San Mateo has gone through many changes since 1986 with more changes to come.  As with many downtown areas, there has been a shift from retail goods to experiences - from shopping to dining.  In San Mateo, there has also been a significant increase in office space and foot traffic from office workers and clients.  At the same time, there has been a natural increase in the cost of operations for the DSMA (staff, cleaning, event production, etc.) while revenues have remained flat with the same rate structure since 2009.

As result, community leaders came together and agreed to review the level of service provided, budget and funding provided by the DBIA fee to update the rate structure in a more equitable manner based on the benefits received from the services and reflective of the changes that have occurred in Downtown San Mateo since 1986.

Current Downtown San Mateo Association DBIA Fee

All businesses within the DBIA, excluding non-profits, are currently subject to the levy of the annual fee, based upon the location of the business, type of business, as well as gross sales if the business is classified as Retail.  There are two Zones within the DBIA.  Zone 1 is the core of the City’s downtown area, and businesses within this zone receive the most benefit and impact from the DSMA’s services and activities, and as such pay a higher fee than those businesses in Zone 2.  Zone 2 is further out from the City’s downtown area, and businesses within this zone receive less benefit from the DSMA’s services and activities, and as such pay a lower fee than those businesses in Zone 1.

Current DBIA Fee Rates

Business is classified into six different types, for fee purposes:







Proposed Downtown San Mateo Association DBIA Fee

The DSMA has proposed a new revenue target of $350,000 to hire an executive director, expand existing services and activities, and create additional value for the downtown area.  The current fee provides $190,000 in annual revenue.  The proposed DBIA fee structure is more equitable and fair as it takes into account the changes that have occurred in downtown San Mateo, reflects the benefits received by businesses in the DBIA, ensures the viability of the DSMA, and provides the additional funding required for the enhancement and expansion of services.

Proposed DBIA Fee Rates

DSMA Rates 2022

CivicMic works with the Downtown San Mateo Association to facilitate community outreach and public engagement opportunities to determine the level of public support for the expansion of existing services and activities creating additional value for the Downtown Business Improvement Area.

Business owners in the DBIA will receive a postcard with a link for an online survey to collect feedback in preparation for an onsite community meeting to discuss the DBIA services and proposed fee structure.

Please visit CivicMic often as additional information will be posted. In the meantime, please use the “Share this:” buttons below to share this announcement with fellow business owners.

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