Santa Paula merchants killed a proposal on Monday that would have funded the town's Downtown Revitalization Foundation.
The foundation was originally funded by a three-year $60,000 grant from the city and $40,000 in donations from downtown merchants.
After the city grant ran out, the foundation sought to create a business improvement district that would have assessed the merchants within its boundaries about $67,000 to keep the foundation alive. At a hearing Monday night, 118 of the 344 merchants opposed the district, and only 50 were in favor of it.
Even the leader of the opposition to the proposal, Armando Gomez, said the revitalization foundation had succeeded in brightening the image of downtown Santa Paula and helped to unify the merchants. However, he called the assessment "an unfair tax."
Donna Nelson, president of the revitalization program this year, said the foundation had improved the appearance of the downtown area "100%" by helping merchants renovate their storefronts. Fourteen new businesses had moved downtown to fill stores that were empty three years ago, she said.