City Council considers reaffirming approval of Tourism Marketing District operating agreement

Judge ruled mayor could withold signature

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council is set to consider Tuesday a resolution restating its prior approval of an operating agreement with the city's Tourism Marketing District and requiring Mayor Bob Filner to sign the pact, even though a judge has ruled the mayor can withhold his signature.

In November, the City Council renewed the agreement for nearly 40 years with the TMD, which advertises San Diego as a vacation destination. Then-Mayor Jerry Sanders did not sign the agreement releasing administrative funds before he left office.

Filner, who succeeded Sanders, said the deal was bad for taxpayers. He issued a counter-offer earlier this month, which included stronger indemnification in case a judge rules against the agency's funding mechanism, challenged in a separate court action.

It also required the TMD to put money toward Balboa Park's 2015 centennial celebration, demanded a livable wage for employees, and prohibited funding to organizations that pay annual salaries above $160,000. The agency rejected the demands and took the mayor to court.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor on Friday ruled that Filner had discretion to not sign an operating agreement with the TMD.

According to the proposed resolution, the mayor's obligation to sign the agreement is a "ministerial duty" and "he has no discretion to refuse to sign said Operating Agreement, and has no authority to further negotiate said Operating Agreement."

The TMD receives a 2 percent surcharge on room rates. Money also goes to organizations that stage events that attract visitors. A $5.4 million campaign advertising San Diego as a vacation destination this summer has been put on hold.

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