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Downtown Business Improvement District

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What is a Business Improvement District? 

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a type of special assessment district in which business owners collectively choose to be assessed, with the assessment proceeds then used by local business organizations to improve and promote the business district.

In partnership with the merchants, the Novato City Council formed the Novato Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) in 1999 which was incorporated into the Novato Municipal Code as Section 2-25 ‘Downtown Novato Business Improvement District'. The goal was to attract more business Downtown and enhance the customer and visitor experience.

Since 1999, the City Council has contracted with the Downtown Novato Business Association (DNBA) to serve as the BID Advisory Board and to administer and manage BID activities and funding since the creation of the BID. The DNBA is a non-profit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors and a paid Executive Director to provide communication, marketing, and coordination of the DNBA’s work. It has adopted bylaws to govern the DNBA Board activities and functions. 

There are approximately 380 businesses in the BID which self-assess an annual fee that generates about $54,000 per year.

How are businesses assessed?

Business Improvement District assessments are levied on the basis of the estimated benefit to the businesses and property within the BID area. A BID may assess property according to zones of benefit, in relation to the benefit being received by businesses within each zone.  The BID assessment is billed annually with the City of Novato’s business license distribution. See the BID Map to view area boundaries and zones.  As shown below, the assessment schedule is as follows:

Type of Business  Benefit Assessment
Zone A 
Benefit Assessment
Zone B 
1-3 Employees 
4-6 Employees
7 + Employees


Service Businesses  $158  $79 
Professional Businesses  $131  $65 
Financial Institutions  $525  $525 
Lodging (Bed & Breakfast)  $158  $158 
Lodging (Hotels & Motels)  $263  $263 

How do I know what's happening with the BID?

The BID plans to meet on the following dates in 2020: February 18, May 19, August 18, and October 20.  Agendas are posted here.

As part of the annual renewal process for the BID, the BID Advisory Board is required to prepare an annual report each year.  Among other things, the annual report includes a proposed work plan and detailed budget for the upcoming year, summary of accomplishments and information outlining the method and basis for levying the BID assessment. The Administrative Guidelines state that the BID’s annual report and budget are to be mailed to all members annually.

As a reminder, for this BID, the DNBA serves as the BID Advisory Board and prepares the annual report and budget.  The annual assessment process for the BID requires City actions -- including two City Council meetings, legislative actions by the Council, and public and member notification. See the schedule to the right for meeting dates.

2019 Annual Report and Budget Package

2018 Annual Report and Budget Package

2017 Annual Report and Budget Package

2016 Annual Report and Budget Package

2015 Annual Report and Budget Package

2014 Annual Report and Budget Package

How do I get involved?

At the annual public hearing all members of the BID and public are welcome to speak to the City Council regarding the annual BID assessment. Written comments for or against the benefit assessments to be levied should be mailed to the City Clerk of the City of Novato at 922 Machin Avenue, Novato, California 94945, or submitted to the City Clerk at or before the public hearing.  To be counted, all protests must be received by the City Clerk on an official Protest Form no later than the public hearing.

Per State law, business owners in BID boundaries are given an opportunity to vote against the assessment of the BID. Each vote will be weighted by the assessment to be paid in the BID. Unless there is a weighted majority against the BID of all businesses in the boundaries, not just of the ballots cast, the BID will continue. If businesses representing a majority of the BID assessments do not want the BID to continue, the City Council cannot levy the assessment for one year.

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