Over the course of the past year I have been asked many times what I do for a living. Many times people ask when my term is up, as if I am volunteering, or they assume I am a government employee. Truth be told there is a little bit of everything in running a Chamber of Commerce but when it comes down to it my job is to ensure that the prosperous and satisfying lifestyle people have come to know and love in Manhattan Beach continues. While we are a business advocacy organization and look to serve the interests of the business community, there is no way we can be successful without making sure that our residents maintain the highest quality of life. And to do that, working with the City of Manhattan Beach is vital. It also means challenging the City to do better.
This coming year we are committed to partnering with the City to make sure that proper attention is paid to commercial zoning, use permits, and long term strategic planning. During recent community planning sessions the group was able to roll up zoning as a major concern for City council to include in their strategic plan. This council is committed to making sure they leave a Manhattan Beach which will be able to stand on its own and not be in a position of weakness when they leave office. Not all of us agree on what that looks like but everyone in this community needs to come out and have their say. From a business standpoint we are trying to protect the limited commercial space we have here in 90266, while ensuring the residents have the mix of businesses they want.
Other challenges the community will face over the coming years is how to pay for desperately needed infrastructure improvements. Our goal is to help grow the City’s existing revenue streams so there will be limited impact to residents’ pocketbooks. The first area we will look to grow is the transient occupancy tax, TOT, which is charged when occupying a room or rooms in a hotel. This is not a tax on residents. Also, the Chamber is working closely with the hospitality community to launch the Manhattan Beach Hospitality Improvement District (the Hospitality BID). In essence this group will serve as the marketing arm of the City and will help fill the more than 350,000 room nights we have here in Manhattan Beach. Every year local hotels manage to fill about 262,000 of those room nights leaving a lot of money on the table which could, in the long run, could serve as payment for improved infrastructure.
Setting up the BID allows our local hotels to capture some additional TOT to promote meeting space and unused hotel rooms, capturing more revenue. Over the first five years this TOT collection will increase about 20% annually, leaving a long lasting positive revenue stream for the city. Additionally, better utilized hotels mean growth in sales tax through increased dining and shopping. Taking the time now to allow the hotels to invest in the community will benefit Manhattan Beach in perpetuity. Often times when looking at a problem it is easy to take an increase and put it directly toward an immediate need, when it would be better to invest in a long term solution and have a continual revenue stream to allow for future projects.
The next two years will also see the Chamber directly engage in ensuring Manhattan Beach is properly zoned to not only attract the appropriate mix of businesses but also ensure the success of the businesses here in the community. Today there are many loopholes and missing codes which have made it more difficult to do business here. Rising rents coupled with inadequate planning has led to a situation where iconic businesses have had to make some difficult decisions. While rents are not something a City or Chamber can directly affect there are several ways to make sure proper use of commercial space allows for a more competitive environment. With the appropriate business mix the City should be able to realize an immediate and sustained growth in sales tax collections.
You may know the Chamber by name but now you know what the Chamber does. The goal of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce is to improve the quality of life in Manhattan Beach by promoting a strong local economy through advocating for business, and providing superior networking and knowledge building opportunities. To this end we will be hosting an Economic Forum on September 13 to discuss how the residential and commercial communities can work together for mutual benefit. Our keynote speaker will be Jan Perry, Director of Community Development for the city of Los Angeles and there will be 2 panels of experts with proven success in economic development. You will want to attend to hear distinguished speakers and panels of experts show how the residential and commercial communities can play in the same sand box. Register today, last year’s Economic Forum sold out early.
Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce
Friday, September 13
Breakfast Buffet 7:00 AM; Program 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Manhattan Beach Marriott, 1400 Parkview Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
$55.00 per person. $500 for a table of 10. $250 for a half table of 5.
Register now. Last year’s Economic Forum sold out.
By James O’Callaghan
Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce