convention center

Lawsuit Challenges Wording in Convention Center Expansion Ballot Measure

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A Convention center expansion plan has hit legal roadblocks before even going to the ballot.

A lawsuit filed challenges the language of the ballot measure and claims its vagueness breaks state law. 

"That 75 words to describe ballots needs to be very precise. It needs to be an honest representation of ballots. This one is not," plaintiff Michael McConnell said.

The ballot drafted by the City Council reads as follows:

"Shall the measure be adopted to: increase the City of San Diego's 10.5% hotel visitor tax by 1.25 to 3.25 percentage points, depending on hotel location, through at least 2061, designated to fund convention center expansion, modernization, promotion and operations, homelessness services and programs, and street repairs; and authorize related bonds; with a citizens' oversight committee and audits by the independent City Auditor?"

"It has to actually tell people how much money, how much taxes are being raised every year," McConnell said. "The second big one is, how long is this measure actually for?"

Another issue lawsuit supporters have cited is the listing of the City Auditor as "independent."

"This measure is about making sure we have some resources to address some serious problems in our community," said Haney Hong of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

He supports the ballot measure.

"You wouldn't expect the taxpayers guy to jump on the tax side of this in raising taxes, but the thing is we took a look at the oversight on this and that was key," Hong said. "We think the dialogue and conversation should be focused on that and not the silly lawsuits."

The window to challenge the verbiage of this measure is small. McConnell anticipates it will go before a court early next week and will be a rather short process.

"We're going to have a bunch of judges take a look at the facts and weigh this out," Hong said.

The convention center expansion is part of the March 2020 ballot.

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