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San Diego Voters Faced With Two Separate Ballot Measures Calling For Hotel Tax Hike


Two ballot initiatives to raise the hotel tax will be presented to San Diego voters on Nov. 8, as both the Chargers’ Citizens Initiative and Citizen’s Plan qualified for the ballot, according to San Diego city clerk Elizabeth Maland. She estimates about 79,000 of the nearly 111,000 signatures collected by the Chargers will be verified; 92,063 of about 102,000 signatures collected for The Citizen’s Plan already have been verified. Above is a conceptual rendering of the proposed Chargers Convadium, a combined stadium and convention center complex in Downtown San Diego.

Launching a signature gathering campaign at the end of April, the Chargers only had six weeks to gather signatures before the window of opportunity closed, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Both groups needed 66,447 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The Chargers’ initiative would increase the hotel tax from 12.5% to 16.5% to secure $1.15B in bonds to provide the city's $350M toward the Chargers Stadium and $800M for constructing the Convention Center Annex and buying land.

It provides funding for tourism and convention marketing, acquiring a portion of the 15-acre site not already owned by the city, cleaning up and moving the bus yard that occupies a portion of the site, and paying off the remaining $29M debt for the old Qualcomm Stadium. The initiative would establish a city agency to operate and maintain the complex and requires the Chargers to sign a 30-year lease. The bond issue would have a 40-year payback term.

The Citizen’s Plan, authored by local attorney Cory Briggs, would boost the hotel tax from 12.5% to 15.5% to fund a convention center expansion, and provide funds for tourism and convention marketing. Under both initiatives, hoteliers could deduct 2% of the hotel tax for tourism marketing. Currently, hoteliers charge guests a 2% surcharge to fund marketing efforts, which Briggs contends is in essence an illegal tax because it wasn’t approved by voters.

The San Diego Lodging Industry Association has voted to oppose the Citizen's Plan, and the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Industry Association board will consider it at its regular meeting today, according to the organization’s incoming president, Joe Eustice, manager of the Wyndham Bayside San Diego hotel. He contends the measures would limit hoteliers' ability to market themselves and create uncertainty that could negatively affect the region’s tourism industry. Industry leaders will be discussing the San Diego hospitality sector at Bisnow's San Diego Hospitality Development Takeoff event Aug. 18. [SDUT]