San Diego

City Council ‘Failed City' by Nixing Hotel Tax Measure: Mayor

A proposed hotel tax measure that would generate funds for a convention center expansion and bolster homeless services was shot down by the San Diego City Council Thursday and it will not go before voters in November.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer pitched the advancement of the proposed measure to the council after supporters failed to gather enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot on its own. The measure called for a raise in the hotel occupancy tax to generate millions of dollars to expand the convention center, help the homeless, and rebuild streets and roads.

The council heard 90 minutes of public comment during which supporters argued it should still advance to the ballot because San Diegans should be the ones to decide the issue. Opponents claimed the shortfall in petition signatures was decisive enough.

The petition signature count failed an initial verification by City Clerk Wednesday that tested only a sample of the signatures.

A final count of valid signatures won’t be available for another month so there is a small chance it could qualify, but the mayor and city leaders are going forward as if it won't.

Needing a majority, the vote failed with a 4-4 split.

Council member David Alvarez, who opposed the measure, told NBC Mayor Kevin Faulconer tried to circumvent the will of San Diego voters and sided with “special Interests” by urging the council to intercede.

“For four members, to sit up there today, and put politics, process over moving this forward for San Diegans, when the incredible coalition that we have… It is the absolute wrong thing to do,” Mayor Faulconer said following the vote.

In a statement released via Twitter, the mayor said the council “failed the city” and denied the public its right to vote.

“The voices of tens of thousands of citizens and a bipartisan coalition of civic leaders fell on deaf ears at today’s City Council hearing,” the statement said.

“The City Council talks a big game about making our city better, but when time came for action all we heard were excuses," the statement continued.

"This is the mayor's failure and he wants excuses to cover his failure," Councilmember Alvarez said. "He brought this to the council over a year ago. He could've come to the council, had public meetings, listened to the public, see what they wanted to say, but no, he wanted to do it his way..."

Mayor Faulconer has not discussed his next move but has said he will keep trying to find money for the convention center expansion, homeless services and street repairs.

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