A Green Benefit District (GBD) is an innovative way for San Francisco residents to directly invest in the beautification and greening of their neighborhood. A new type of neighborhood-based property assessment district, a GBD is voted into existence by the property owners within the proposed district. This special assessment district, authorized by state and local law (See San Francisco Business Code Article 15A), allows individual property owners to vote to assess their own property in exchange for control over how the assessment revenues are spent within their neighborhood. 

GBDs are similar to Community Benefit Districts (CBDs) or Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), but are geared towards residential rather than commercial districts.  Specifically, GBDs can improve daily maintenance of, and make capital improvements to, Public Realm areas. The geographic area of a GBD is determined by a lengthy public outreach and benefit evaluation process, to ensure that the boundaries of the GBD only contains parcels that will receive a special benefit. Everyone who owns property inside the GBD boundaries and receives a special benefit pays an assessment to support the District's services, activities, and improvements.

Importantly, GBDs enable neighborhood-scale stewardship of shared public resources, complementing a city's baseline maintenance and operations programs at a hyper-local level. A GBD is managed by an independent, nonprofit corporation governed by an elected board of directors that represents assessed property owners and community stakeholders. Every GBD must have a Management Plan that serves as the “mini-Constitution” of the GBD, clearly defining the scope and spending authority of each GBD. Once approved by the voters, the Management Plan can only be changed by a subsequent vote of the assessed property owners. This transparent and grassroots management structure ensures that GBDs are held accountable to the community they serve and that GBD services are provided in an efficient, responsive and cost-effective manner. A GBD allows neighbors to substantially improve the maintenance of green space and parks in their district for a relatively modest dollar-per-square-foot assessment by spreading costs over a broad area.