A Business Improvement District (BID) is a nonprofit organization created by neighborhood property owners or merchants to provide services, activities, and programs to promote local improvements and public safety. The BID is a discrete geographical area, and all property owners or merchants within that area are charged an assessment to fund BID–determined services and activities. The amount of the assessment largely depends upon what the BID collectively decides are the activities that will best meet its priorities. More than 1,000 BIDs have been formed in communities around the country.
In areas where problems such as crime and disorder are evident, BIDs represent a means for facilitating collective action. Through levied assessments, BIDs enable groups of property owners to pool their resources and contribute to the cost of services that they may not be able to afford by themselves.
BID expenditure is largely dedicated to paying for services that contribute toward improvements to the outside environment of the locale in which they are situated. Such services include security patrols, maintenance of sidewalks, graffiti removal, marketing of local businesses, parking and transportation management, and capital improvements, such as improved lighting. The precise package of services contracted by any one BID will vary, as the services selected should be tailored for local problems. These activities are intended to have positive effects on crime and disorder and the prosperity of businesses in the area.
Studies that have evaluated BIDs discuss a number of relevant theories of crime causation, including broken windows theory, opportunity theories, social disorganization theory, and collective efficacy, as well as theories of collective action.
The formation of a BID is voluntary, but there can be a legal process associated with its establishment. BIDs are usually chartered by State legislation, and local governments regulate them. For instance,
BIDs are not permanent institutions. Often, an advisory committee of property or business owners provides governance to the organization.
Reductions in Serious Crime
Compared to control groups formed in a variety of ways, treatment areas experienced reductions in serious crime. This effect was statistically significant in all models.
Reductions in Less Serious Crime
Compared to control groups formed in a variety of ways, treatment areas experienced reductions in less serious crime. This effect was statistically significant in four out of the five models.
Reductions in Overall Crime
Compared to control groups formed in a variety of ways, treatment areas experienced reductions in overall crime of 6 percent to 10 percent.
Brooks (2008) compared the change in crime in the treatment areas with the changes in the adjacent areas and in the rest of the city. The change relative to areas adjacent to treatment areas was not larger than the same comparison with the rest of the city and hence displacement was unlikely to have occurred.
Reductions in Crime
Compared with those police reporting districts that were not within a BID boundary, crime (robbery, assault, burglary, and auto theft) was reduced in those that were. The introduction of BIDs is associated with approximately 28 fewer total serious crimes per neighborhood. BID neighborhoods averaged 249 crimes per year, which represents an 11 percent relative decline in crime. This effect was statistically significant.
Cook and MacDonald (2011) also assessed whether the reductions in crime and arrests were sustained or whether they quickly wore off by examining the impact on crime over time. The results reported suggest that the crime reductive effect may increase over time.
Reductions in Arrests
Compared with those police reporting districts that were not within a BID boundary, the number of arrests was reduced in those that were. The introduction of BIDS was associated with an average BID neighborhood reduction of 9.6 arrests, a 32 percent reduction. This effect was statistically significant.
The authors repeated the statistical analyses in such a way as to examine whether the timing of implementation was associated with changes in counts of crime in the police reporting districts that surround the BID areas. No association was observed, suggesting that crime was not displaced by this type of intervention.