San Dimas Business Climate
from a report by Blaine Michaelis, San Dimas City Manager
So, how appealing is San Dimas to businesses?
What are some gauges of the city’s commerce and economic success?
How appealing is San Dimas to private investment?
The goal with all of these comparisons is not necessarily a contest to be No. 1 when comparing to other cities. As adjacent cities, we are part of a regional economy. The more effective purpose of taking a look at some statistics is to see if San Dimas is carrying its weight in the regional economy, and to confirm our ability to have sufficient resources to provide valuable services to San Dimas residents and businesses.
>> One measure is the assessed value of private development within a city. San Dimas is relatively the same size as La Verne and Claremont; Glendora is 1.5 times larger; but the assessed value of private investment in San Dimas is markedly different.
Of the four cities San Dimas has the highest assessed value per person:
Assessed Value Total
City Population per capita Assessed Value
San Dimas 33,371 $135,447 $4.5 billion
Claremont 34,926 $120,254 $4.2 billion
Glendora 50,073 $117,828 $5.9 billion
La Verne 31,063 $115,893 $3.6 billion
Source: Los Angeles County Assessor, tax year 2014-15.
>> A measure of the business climate is retail sales per capita.
San Dimas ranks number one in retail sales tax per capita:
Retail Sales Tax Quarterly Sales Tax
City per capita 3rd Qtr 2014
San Dimas $43.58 $1,454,205
Glendora $40.19 $2,012,208
La Verne $32.91 $1,022,136
Claremont $27.16 $ 948,559
Source: State Board of Equalization. The figures are from the 3rd quarter of 2014. This is the latest period available, because sales tax figures always lag 4-5 months after the end of the quarter.
>> A measure of business success is the number of retail businesses per thousand population:
San Dimas is second in number of retail businesses:
Retail Businesses Total Number
City per 1,000 population Retail Businesses
Glendora 40.98 2,052
San Dimas 36.35 1,213
Claremont 31.43 1,098
La Verne 27.55 856
Source: City of San Dimas Finance Department, 2nd quarter of 2014 - latest figures available.
John Ebiner's Ideas for a Business-Friendly San Dimas
I recently received an email from a couple who own a small business in San Dimas. In part, they wrote:
My wife and I are both long time residents of San Dimas and local business owners. Our son attends Shull Elementary School in San Dimas.
We would be interested in knowing more about your vision for a business friendly City atmosphere at City Hall.
Here is my reply:
Thanks for being a small business in San Dimas! We really do value you.
As for my vision, I think that city hall needs to be fair, friendly, and prompt when it comes to dealing with business owners. Here are a couple things I like to see our staff doing, in no particular order:
1) Smile and promptly acknowledge people who come to the counter, whether for a scheduled appointment or just out of the blue.
2) Wear name tags.
3) Answer the phone and include your name.
4) Quickly find out what the business owner needs or has a question about.
5) Offer suggestions if the proposal needs some work. Often staff will say the proposal needs work, but they don't offer any guidance on what would be acceptable.
In addition, the city should:
6) Maintain a good infrastructure - streets, lights, sewers, etc.
7) Maintain a good, safe city - sheriff and fire department.
8) Keep our business license fees similar or slightly lower than the norm.
9) Absorb a portion of new business fees that are due to state or federal regulations.
An example of my position on fees played out at the October 14 city council meeting. We had a report about a new fee for water quality inspections that will affect about 175 San Dimas businesses. Only some businesses need to have this inspection, but for them it's a federal requirement. The program will cost the city $52,000, so to recover the cost, we are allowed to pass it on to the businesses. Staff came up with a fee of $210 for industrial users and $147 for commercial users. The fee would be paid two times over a two-year period.
I felt that the city should absorb some, if not all, of the cost. The majority, however, did not agree. In an effort to get consensus, I suggested we absorb 15%, thus lowering the fee at least a little bit. This failed on a 3-2 vote (Emmett Badar was the other person to vote in favor of this idea.) Here are the minutes that cover my comments during the October 14 meeting:
Councilmember Ebiner felt the city should absorb the start-up costs of $8,244.00 to lower the fees the business would have to pay for two years. He also felt that it would be a big jump in the business license fees for the businesses to incur.
Lastly, #10, I believe business thrives in a city with good quality of life. This entails all sorts of things, like good parks, schools, neighborhoods, and commercial opportunities. If the community is attractive and simply is a good place to live, then businesses will do better.