Hotel Tax Initiative to Fund San Diego Convention Center Expansion Fails to Make Ballot


The San Diego citizens initiative that aimed to put a hotel tax hike on the November ballot has failed to accumulate enough signatures, according to the San Diego Tribune. This comes as a surprise and significant setback to backers of the expansion project; the June agreement hammered out by the San Diego City Council and Board of Port Commissioners was contingent on the measure not only getting on the ballot, but being passed by voters.

The citizens initiative proposed a measure that would have raised the hotel tax from 12.5 percent to as much as 15.75 percent, creating a windfall that would have helped pay for the convention center expansion as well as homeless initiatives and road repairs. 

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is determined to see that a November vote on the measure occurs nevertheless. "I will not be deterred from addressing the urgent issues of homelessness, road repair and protecting our economy," the mayor tweeted yesterday. "I will ask the City Council on Thursday to place a measure on the November ballot." A meeting is scheduled for later this afternoon.

To complicate matters further, however, a measure placed in such a fashion will require a two-thirds majority to pass; it was likely, however, that a citizens initiative measure could have passed with a simple majority.

The campaign behind the citizens initiative, known as "Yes! For a Better San Diego," backed Faulconer's efforts. "San Diego can't wait to combat homelessness, repair roads and create jobs," said spokesperson Laura Fink in a tweet from the campaign. "Our coalition is in full support of the mayor's efforts to uphold the will of more than 100,000 San Diegans and place a measure on the ballot; inaction is not an option."

As for the agreement hammered out in June, the city would now have to negotiate an amendment - if the mayor's efforts to place the measure on the ballot prove successful.

The campaign submitted more than 114,000 signatures, according to the Tribune, but the random sampling of signatures for verification fell short of the required amount. The deadline to place anything on November's ballot is this Friday.