City Attorney Questions Legality of Convention Center Explansion

Same city attorney who said Snapdragon Stadium name change was illegal now unsure about hotel tax legality

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    The proposed convention center expansion plan took a step backwards.

    The Convention Center expansion may have hit another road block.

    San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said he plans to file a validation lawsuit against the city. He said he's unsure if the hotel tax proposed to pay for a bulk of the expansion is legal, according to a statement

    The lawsuit is a way to ensure the tax is, in fact, legal before plans progress much further, Goldsmith said in the statement.

    Goldsmith also issued a memo to Mayor Jerry Sanders in December 2011 saying the temporary renaming of Qualcomm Stadium to Snapdragon Stadium was illegal. That advice was largely ignored. The press release regarding the Convention Center is not in any way related to the ignored memo, City Communications Director Jonathan Heller said Thursday.

    The issue Goldsmith is concerned about is whether the proposed hotel tax should also be approved by two-thirds of voters, in addition to hoteliers, as the state's constitution mandates.

    "The California Constitution requires that taxes be approved by a two-thirds vote of the qualified electorate," Goldsmith stated. "To be clear, this is a tax. But, this tax would not be submitted to all voters in the City."

    Validation action was voted on by San Diego City Council members in November. Heller said this is a "long process," and a date for the validation hearing has not yet been set.

    In the meantime, Goldsmith suggested that a financing plan could just be presented to the general electorate for a vote -- that would be a sure way to avoid any violation of the constitution, he said.

    "Legally there is nothing wrong with going forward, as long as a validation lawsuit is filed," Goldsmith stated. "But we should do so with our eyes open."

    "Expectations should be tempered," he added.