Established in 1971, the California Downtown Association (CDA) is a nonprofit corporation that has grown to one of the strongest downtown organizations in the country. CDA represents thousands of diversified businesses throughout California within its network of downtown associations, cities, chambers of commerce, business districts, supportive vendors and consultants. CDA’s primary purpose is to exchange information pertinent to business districts and formulate solutions to mutually shared problems while being committed to the long term preservation and prosperity of urban centers everywhere.

The core purpose of the California Downtown Association is to lead and empower urban place management organizations by providing legislative support and advocacy to ensure public spaces thrive.

We value:

  • Passion for the public realm and a fundamental belief in the cultural vibrancy of cities
  • Diverse and inclusive communities as the foundation on which great cities are built and prosper
  • Partnerships with, residents, visitors, and investments that together makes our urban places exponentially better
  • Resilience, empowerment, and success in the face of all challenges

Helping Business Districts Succeed
Nearly 40 years ago, California passed landmark legislation allowing the formation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). Soon after, a pioneering group of business district managers recognized the need for an association that would provide a forum for addressing issues unique to business associations in California–the only state at the time that had passed BID legislation. This group, comprised of BID managers from Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, San Jose, Santa Monica and Whittier, came together over a weekend to exchange information. They shared their successes, failures, accomplishments and challenges and created the California Downtown Association.

Today, downtowns and commercial corridors are the hub for community development efforts. With traffic congestion increasing and the environmental impacts of suburban sprawl of concern to all, residents are returning to housing in our historic downtowns and a renewed model for city living is emerging. BIDs are leading the way, representing business and property owners whose livelihood depends on the accessibility, safety and appeal of these new work/live city centers. Social issues have also moved to the forefront of many business districts, as upwardly mobile professionals claim redeveloped housing in downtown, displacing lower income tenants and-especially in our urban centers-come face-to-face with our cities’ homeless populations. Downtowns are the urban laboratories where residents, business owners, property owners, planners, and city community development and redevelopment leaders are experimenting with the elements and equations of incentives and services to maximize quality of life for Californians.