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City Council And Mayor At Odds Over Special Election For Convention Center And SoccerCity

The proposed SoccerCity project would generate $8.2M in tax revenue.

The San Diego City Council voted 8-1 Monday to remove $5M from the mayor’s proposed budget for a special election in November for the San Diego Convention Center expansion and SoccerCity development in Mission Valley.

The vote to eliminate funding for a special election was part of the overall budget approval process for the city’s $3B, 2018 fiscal budget that funds city operations. The lone councilman against removing the special election budget item was Scott Sherman, whose district includes the Qualcomm Stadium site, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer immediately issued a press release vowing to veto the council’s budget action.

“A city council majority is supporting the unprecedented step of blocking a public election by stripping funding from the budget. This short-sighted move results in denying the public a vote and getting nothing accomplished for our city,” he said. “I intend to use my veto authority to restore the special election funding, while still retaining the added funding for our police, so the city council can take an up-or-down vote on these urgent ballot measures.”

More than 200 people, including soccer players, labor union representatives, community activists and hotel industry leaders, spoke about the proposed special election and developments. Some citizens said a special election would violate Measure L, a city charter change adopted last year to limit ballot measures to November general elections when the most voters participate.

The council will vote at its next meeting on whether to put the proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion on the November ballot and on June 19 the council will vote on whether to put SoccerCity on the ballot. The SoccerCity ballot initiative, which was sponsored by La Jolla-based FS Investors, collected 112,000 signatures.

FS Investors' plan calls for a 23,500-seat stadium, 4,800 housing units, 3.1M SF of commercial space, 450 hotel rooms and a 34-acre San Diego River Park on the 166-acre Qualcomm site. The convention center proposal includes funding for street repairs and homeless programs.

The mayor has proposed raising the hotel tax by 3%, to 15.5%, to pay for improvements. He wants a vote this year on the project, as delays would increase the cost due to rising construction and materials costs. The measure would need approval by two-thirds of voters to pass.