Merchants in two of the city's main financial zones--Corona del Mar and Balboa Island--are proposing improvement districts to boost commerce in their communities.
Regulated by the city, money collected through the districts would be used to promote businesses and pay for beautification of the business zones.
The funds would come from a self-imposed tax on businesses in the zones and be collected by a City Council-appointed advisory board.
"With the city cutting back we see a need to improve our two-block area on our own," said John Noyes, a business owner on Balboa Island who has been appointed to the advisory board.
"Our district has a rich tradition and we are hoping to preserve that treasure."
The Balboa Island improvement district would comprise the 200 and 300 blocks of Marine Avenue.
Merchants there hope to have an annual budget of $23,000.
The Corona del Mar district, roughly bordering East Coast Highway from Hazel Street to Avocado Avenue, would raise about $53,000 a year.
Under state law, business owners who are opposed to an assessment district could stop its formation.
If protests are received from business owners who would pay 50% or more of the total assessment, the district cannot be established.
Although members of the Balboa Island Business Assn. has secured enough support by Marine Avenue business to get the city's blessings, the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce, which has fronted the efforts of an improvement district, is meeting some resistance.
At a special meeting tentatively scheduled for Oct. 19, the City Council will weigh whether there are enough protests by Corona del Mar business owners to thwart that proposal.