Hotel tax to fund San Diego convention center expansion fails to make November ballot

Posted at 2:43 PM, Aug 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-08 21:50:58-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Backers of an initiative that would have raised San Diego's hotel tax to fund a long-awaited expansion to the city's bayfront convention center failed to collect enough valid signatures to earn a spot on the November ballot, the city clerk's office announced Wednesday.

A random sampling of the campaign's more than 114,000 signatures by the county Registrar of Voters fell short of the threshold of verified signatures needed to place an issue on the ballot. A signature-by-signature count will start immediately, but such a count typically takes 30 days to complete, and the deadline to place a measure on the ballot is Friday.

"Colossal failure," initiative opponent City Councilman David Alvarez wrote on his Twitter page.

Overall, 71,646 valid signatures are needed to place an initiative on the ballot. The signature-by-signature count could qualify the hotel tax increase for a future election if it isn't completed in time for the November ballot.

The City Council could also decide to place the measure on the ballot during a Thursday special meeting, but that would raise the initiative's required success threshold to two-thirds voter approval.

The proposed initiative would raise the city's 12.5 percent hotel tax to 13.75 to 15.75 percent depending on the location of each hotel.

The 42-year tax increase was expected to generate $6.4 billion, including nearly $3.8 billion for the convention center.

An estimated $147 million would have gone to homelessness services and housing funding over the tax increase's first five years. An additional $604 million would have gone to road repairs.