Tracey Cullen's Feb. 15 letter "1902 Deserved Better" only touched on the fiction that the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and its president, Mike Edwards, is an "advocate for small businesses Downtown." The PDP is in fact an advocate for the biggest property owners Downtown.
The majority of the PDP's funding comes from a BID (Business Improvement District) tax on assessed land values in the Golden Triangle. Hundred-million-dollar commercial buildings on the land are BID tax-exempt. To compound this inequity, City Council a few years back bought into the PDP's idea to further exempt from the BID tax on land, the percentage of the building above that is devoted to housing.
The BID tax exemptions in both cases are a windfall for large Downtown property owners, and the burden is shifted to the remaining mostly small retail property owners and businesses. Four years ago in a further affront to most small Downtown property and business owners, the PDP successfully lobbied City Council to increase the BID tax by about 30 percent to fund a controversial Safety Ambassador Program, which would benefit primarily the Cultural District, despite the fact that a similar program was found to be unnecessary and ineffective about 10 years before.
The PDP finally pulled the plug on this boondoggle a few months ago. Small property and business owners are waiting for a 30 percent reduction in their BID tax.
The writer is a Downtown property owner.