The California Downtown Association represents thousands of diversified businesses throughout California within its network of downtown associations, cities, chambers of commerce, business districts, supportive vendors and consultants. The California Downtown Association’s primary purpose is to exchange information pertinent to business districts and to formulate solutions to mutually shared problem and is committed to the long term preservation and prosperity of business districts everywhere.

Established in 1971, California Downtown Association is a nonprofit corporation which that has grown from a few scattered cities to one of the strongest downtown organizations in the country. This has enabled it to successfully lobby in the State Legislature for statewide improvement programs as well as local funding legislation.

The core purpose of the California Downtown Association is to collectively lead and empower urban places to attract investment, promote culture, and offer inclusive opportunities for growth.

We value:
– Diverse, Inclusive Places, and Organizations that allow all to prosper
– Community as the foundation on which great cities are built
– Passion for the public realm and a fundamental belief in the vibrancy of cities
– Partnerships with businesses, residents, visitors, investors and government that together makes our places exponentially better.
– Resilience and an unwavering commitment to 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 managers from cities as diverse as 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 California Downtown Association.

Today, downtowns are the hub for community development efforts by every city in California and across the nation. 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. Executive directors of Business Improvement Districts 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, as well, have 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.