Local media are reporting this morning (August 9) that the initiative to raise the hotel tax to expand the convention center and purportedly fix the roads and help the homeless doesn’t have enough valid signatures to make the November ballot.
This afternoon at 4 pm, the city council is scheduled to meet to discuss an emergency proposal by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to put the measure on the ballot. If the council agrees, it will take a two-thirds vote to pass the measure, rather than a hair over 50 percent. That’s because the failed proposal was misleadingly called a “citizens’” initiative that doesn’t require two-thirds. (It was questionable that it was actually a “citizens’” initiative becasue the downtown corporate welfare crowd, including city council members, originated and promoted it.)
Statements by backers of the new Faulconer initiative are quite revealing. According to the Union-Tribune, Faulconer declared, “I will not be deterred from addressing the urgent issues of homelessness, road repair and protecting our economy.” Note the absence of the words “convention center.”
Similarly, the group pushing the original initiative, named “Yes! For a Better San Diego,” commented, “Our coalition…will support every available option to immediately alleviate homelessness, create jobs and repair roads.” Again: no mention of “convention center.”
All along, the promoters of a convention center expansion have pushed homelessness and road repair — marketing gimmicks to make the the deal more appealing to voters. But $3.8 billion of the $6.4 billion raised by boosting the hotel tax would go to the convention center and only about $2 billion for the homeless and $600 million for road repair. It appears that the hucksters realize that there is a massive glut of convention center space in the nation, forcing centers to slash prices by 50 percent or more. San Diego’s existing center needs expensive repairs, but Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin, foreseeing massive debt, declining revenues and rising expenditures straining the budget, wonders if there will be funding for operations and maintenance. And the downtown overlords want an expansion?
According to Times of San Diego, City Councilmember David Alvarez, who has long seen through the center expansion’s irrationality, tweeted that the expansion is “not gonna happen in November or maybe ever.” Amen.