What is a Maintenance Assessment District?

A Maintenance Assessment District is legal mechanism by which property owners can vote to assess themselves to pay and receive services above-and-beyond what the City of San Diego normally provides. This above-and-beyond service level is called a “special benefit.” What the City normally provides is called the “general benefit.”

Maintenance Assessment Districts may also be known as Landscape Maintenance Districts, Lighting and Landscape Maintenance Districts, Enhanced Maintenance Assessment Districts, or Community Benefit Districts. Because many districts include more than landscaping and lighting, the name was changed to better represent the nature of the districts.

How MADs are Formed?

By the Developer

A MAD may be formed at the time a new subdivision is built. The developer is usually the only property owner, so the developer determines the scope of services to be provided. Sometimes, the developer is required to install certain assets as part of the Development Permit. Other times, the developer wants to install certain assets in order to make the development more marketable. Either way, the City requires the developer to sign a Landscape Maintenance Agreement guaranteeing to maintain the assets until maintenance responsibility can be turned over to a Homeowners’ Association, MAD, or other entity. The developer pays the required District Formation costs (independent Assessment Engineer’s Report and balloting) and constructs all of the assets. The scope of services of the MAD is limited to maintaining the assets. An Assessment Engineer determines which properties benefit from maintenance of the assets, and apportions a share of the cost of maintenance to each parcel based on the benefit it receives. Prospective buyers of the property are informed of the existence of the MAD as a line-item on their property tax bill.

By the Community

If the community is already developed when the MAD is proposed to be formed, District Formation costs are either funded by CDBG or by some of the benefitting property owners, usually with the provision that if the ballot passes, the front-money is returned to the originator from the first year’s assessments. Community members advocating the MAD usually meet frequently with the Park and Recreation Dept. and the Assessment Engineer to identify a scope of services and resulting assessment amount, which the community members believe will get a favorable result in a ballot of all assessable property owners.

Washington St. Maintenance Assessment District (WSMAD)

If you look on your property tax bill, you might notice an assessment of approximately $24 for the Washington St. Maintenance Assessment District and probably don’t know what this is. The Washington St. Maintenance Assessment District was formed in 1993 to maintain the landscaping along Washington St. from Albatross to Hawk Streets and from Ft. Stockton to University Avenue along Goldfinch St. In addition to maintaining landscaping, the assessment has grown to fund other activities such as:

  1. Litter pickup and power washing of the streets;
  2. Installation of decorative benches, trash receptacles, and plant boxes within the core commercial area;
  3. The placement, lighting and care of the majestic Canary Island palms in the Washington Street center median;
  4. The beautifully landscaped Washington Place “triangle.”

Residents and business owners in the Mission Hills community need to know that all the above didn’t happen through the City’s General Operation budget. All of these special enhancements happened because the community agreed that beautification of the public space is important and that formation of an assessment district made it all happen.

The WSMAD is administered and managed by the City of San Diego. In 2008, the Mission Hills Town Council established a committee to oversee the work being done and make recommendations to the City on projects to be performed. This committee consists of representatives from the following major community groups: Mission Hills Town Council; Mission Hills Heritage; Business Improvement District; and Mission Hills Garden Club.

Should you have any questions on the WSMAD, you can contact the Mission Hills Town Council by sending a message here: Contact Us

Current committee members are:

  • Stephen Shushan (Chairperson)
  • John Lomac (Community Member)
  • Lara Gates (Community Member)
  • Kathy Jones (Community Member)
  • Stuart White (Community Member)
  • Rob Contin (MH Heritage – President)
  • Judith Krumholz (MH Garden Club – Board Member)
  • Susan McNeil Schreyer (MH BID – ED)
  • Anthony Nyikos (MHTC Board of Trustees – Liaison)