Best planning and implementation toolbox

Public Improvement District:

Purpose of Tool:

Downtown Austin, Texas and the State Capitol as seen from the Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake
A Public Improvement District (PID) is a special district that is created by a local government to fund services and improvements beyond those normally provided by the municipality. The district is funded by special property assessments paid by taxpayers. These funds are subsequently managed and distributed by the local government to the designated agency in charge of the PID. Eligible activities in a PID include:

  • Water, wastewater and drainage improvements
  • Health and sanitation improvements
  • Street and sidewalk improvements
  • Mass transit improvements
  • Parking improvements
  • Library improvements
  • Park, recreation and cultural improvements
  • Landscaping and other aesthetic improvements
  • Art installation
  • Creation of pedestrian malls or similar improvements
  • Supplemental safety services (such as public safety and security services)
  • Supplemental business-related services (such as advertising, business recruitment and development)

    Benefits of Using Tool:
    A PID is beneficial in providing dedicated funding towards specific improvements in communities. It is most beneficial when the property owners have the financial ability to pay the special assessments that will go toward the public improvements. A majority of taxpayers in the proposed PID area must petition the local government to form a PID.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Government Code specifies the procedures by which PID must be established. A petition must be submitted to the local government stating:
  • The general nature of the proposed improvement
  • The estimated cost of the improvement
  • The boundaries of the proposed district
  • The proposed method of assessment
  • The proposed apportionment of cost between the PID and the municipality
  • The managing body of the district
  • That the persons signing the petition request or concur with the proposed district
  • That an advisory board will be formed to develop and recommend an improvement plan to the governing body of the municipality 1

    Furthermore, the petition must be signed by at least 50% of property owners in the proposed district, or owners of at least 50% of the land area. Before establishment of the district, a public hearing must be held to advise the community of the nature of the district.

    Once the PID is established, the actual implementation of the improvements may occur after 20 days, to allow any public comment to be submitted to the municipality. If the community or municipality wishes to dissolve the PID at any time, a petition must be signed by at least 50% of property owners in the proposed district, or owners of at least 50% of the land area, and a public hearing must be held.

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    Other than the conditions and procedures described above, there are no special requirements or considerations for using this tool.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    There are no specific resources needed to use this tool.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
    Public Improvement Districts have been authorized by Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Government Code. These districts have been created in all major Texas cities, including Dallas, since 1986.

    The City of Austin established its Downtown PID in 1993 to provide a reliable and constant source of funding for various downtown improvements to be completed over several years. The effort to create this district was spearheaded by the private sector. The petition and service plan was submitted to the City of Austin, which then approved the establishment of the district. The Downtown Austin Alliance, a group dedicated to the improvement and revitalization of the city, manages the district. The district was approved for a five-year period and was renewed in 1997. Austin’s PID has implemented a number of enhancements in the downtown area since its inception. These include graffiti and litter removal, tourism and parking maps, specialized training for the Downtown Austin Rangers (personnel that serve as ‘ambassadors’ and provide security for the City), noontime concerts, and streetscape and street design improvements.  Contact:

    Charles Betts - Executive Director
    Downtown Austin Alliance

    The City of San Antonio has also established a D in the heart of the city. “Centro San Antonio” was established in early 2000. Its main focus is on stimulating business development and strengthening Downtown San Antonio’s economic base by ensuring healthy and viable land uses that attract business and visitors. Various improvements have been made under the PID, including enhanced sanitation services, landscaping, and the establishment of ambassadors for security and tourism needs.  Contact:

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    As different public improvement districts initiate different types of improvements, there are no standard, quantifiable measures on how the district improves quality of life.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Government Code
  • Texas Ahead – Tax Programs/Incentives Local Government Assistance Division 1-800-531-5441
  • Lake Highlands Public Improvement District – PID Overview.
  • Downtown Austin Alliance: 
  • Centro San Antonio:


    1 Texas Ahead – Tax Programs/Incentives. Accessed 2-2-2-2009.