San Diego Hotel Tax Hike Backers Switch Focus to November Ballot - NBC 7 San Diego

San Diego Hotel Tax Hike Backers Switch Focus to November Ballot

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    San Diego Hotel Tax Hike Backers Switch Focus to November Ballot

    San Diego supporters of an initiative to raise the city’s hotel tax, to fund potential projects including a convention center expansion or Chargers stadium, will delay submission of signatures in order to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot, rather than the previously targeted June 2016 election.

    The move is being made in part to avoid having the measure compete with a potential city proposal to fund a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers, which could go on the June ballot.

    “It is always better that ballot measures be in front of voters in November when the most people vote,” said initiative sponsor Donna Frye, the former City Council member who is heading the initiative drive with local attorney Cory Briggs.

    In a statement from the measure’s supporters, Frye said campaign organizers had agreed from the outset to consider both June and November. However, Briggs noted that a proposed timeline recently submitted by the city to the NFL spells out a plan to place a San Diego Chargers stadium financing measure on the June ballot, and his group recognizes the need for the NFL to “see a unified community.”

    “We understand that the NFL has emphasized the importance of acting fast on their issues,” Briggs said. “We have the flexibility to defer our initiative to November. This will ensure that voters have the earliest opportunity to weigh in on a separate city/county NFL financing plan without confusion or complication.”

    City and county leaders earlier this week submitted to the NFL a final formal proposal designed to keep the Chargers in the city, including a financing plan for a new Mission Valley stadium that would require voter approval. NFL owners are expected to vote in January on whether the Chargers, Oakland Raiders or St. Louis Rams, or a combination of those teams, will be permitted to relocate to the Los Angeles area.

    Supporters of what is formally called “Citizens’ Plan for the Responsible Management of Major Tourism and Entertainment Resources” are seeking to have voters decide on a proposed 5 percent increase in the city’s transient occupancy tax, levied on hotel room bills, from its current 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent.

    The Citizens’ Plan is intended to generate at least $18 million annually in new revenue, which would go directly to the city’s general fund. The revenue could go toward a non-waterfront convention center project and could also provide for a downtown backup plan for a new San Diego Chargers stadium if one is not built in Mission Valley.

    The Citizens’ Plan would also shorten the environmental review process in the event that the Chargers, city and voters can agree on a location and a financing plan. The Citizens’ Plan itself does not clear the way for the financing of a stadium specifically, which would require a separate public vote.

    Organizers are in the process of gathering a minimum of approximately 66,000 signatures – 10 percent of the city’s registered voters – expected to be submitted to the city several weeks ahead of the county registrar’s August filing deadline for the November election.