SAN DIEGO - City Council President Todd Gloria proposed a ballot initiative Wednesday that, if approved by voters, would increase San Diego's minimum wage to $13.09 per hour over the next three years.
Gloria first proposed the idea in January, at the time calling for a "meaningful" hike without specifying how much until now.
The proposal, which needs City Council approval to be put on a ballot, would also give employees five paid sick days per year.
Gloria said he spent the past three months talking to stakeholders on all sides of the issue and looking at studies on the subject. He said details of the proposal could change, pending City Council discussions.
Nearly everyone acknowledges the current minimum wage, set by the state at $8 per hour, is too low, he said.
"A great city cannot exist when almost 40 percent of working age households cannot make ends meet. The San Diego proposal would have a major, positive economic impact for workers and their families and on the San Diego economy," Gloria said. "To those who fear losing their businesses, please remember that these additional wages will be spent by workers on necessities like food and services -- it will go right back into San Diego's economy."
A young mother, Edith Sanchez, loves the idea, and she told 10News, "I think it's great; $8 is nothing. If it goes higher ... $13, it's great!"
Barry Butler, janitor, agreed.
"If you start getting a little more money, that means you might be able to take your kids to the zoo, take your kids to the movies, take your kids to go get a Happy Meal," said Butler.
Neighborhood Market Association CEO Mark Arabo warned, "Inflation is going to hit the city of San Diego harder than it's ever been."
He made an example of the cost of a carton of one dozen eggs, saying, "We charge $2.29 for these eggs now and after the increase we'll be forced to charge almost $5 for a dozen eggs."
The state plans to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour in July and to $10 an hour in two years.
If voters pass the initiative in November, the minimum wage in San Diego will go to $11.09 in July 2015, to $12.09 in July 2016 and to $13.09 in July 2017, according to Gloria.
The Center on Policy Initiatives recently estimated that a single person living on a stripped-down budget needs to make a $17.03 hourly wage to live in San Diego.
Around 300,000 households in the region have incomes too low to meet basic expenses, according to the study.
Peter Brownell, the research director for CPI, said about 200,000 employees would get a "significant raise" if the minimum wage is increased, resulting in $2,800 in additional annual income. About 260,000 workers in San Diego have no paid sick leave, he said.
After Gloria's announcement, Mayor Kevin Faulconer expressed opposition.
"I believe the better way to support San Diego small businesses and protect jobs is to follow the minimum wage increases set at the state and federal levels, which ensures our city remains on a level playing field with surrounding cities that compete with San Diego for jobs," Faulconer said. "I am concerned about any proposal that puts our city at a competitive disadvantage against other cities, which can hurt job growth and San Diego working families."
Faulconer and Councilman Mark Kersey previously called for an independent study on the potential impact of a minimum wage increase.
Lightner and Councilwomen Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald have expressed support for Gloria's proposal.
City Councilman David Alvarez said he believes the minimum wage should be in the $12-$13 range
Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement on the proposal:
"Given the State of California's recently adopted 25% increase in the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour by 2016, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce supports federal efforts to equalize the national minimum wage in order to promote an equitable and competitive business environment, as well as help our nation's workforce and create jobs. The proposal to create a separate minimum wage in the City of San Diego and significantly increase the rate well in excess of what has been adopted by the State of California not only puts San Diego at a competitive and economic disadvantage, it would also hurt the very workforce the proponents are purporting to help."