homeless

Measure C: Yet Another Effort To Raise San Diego’s Hotel Tax

Proponents say tax money will also fund projects and street repairs. Opponents say there are no guarantees where money will go

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In March, San Diego voters will decide whether to increase the hotel tax in the city. Measure C, otherwise known as the "Yes! For A Better San Diego" campaign, will raise the tax based on the hotel's proximity to the downtown Convention Center.

Measure C calls for a tax increase between 1.25% and 3.25%, the higher rate for hotels closest to the Convention Center.

Over it's life, the measure would raise $3.8 billion to expand the Convention Center, $2 billion for homeless services, and $600 million for road repairs.

"This is a measure that is going to be paid for completely by visitors," said Carol Kim, spokespereson for the San Diego County Building & Trades Council.

Convention Center is a critical driver of San Diego's economy, according to Kim.

"Just this past year alone, it drove $29 million into the city's general fund, which was then spent on public infrastructure, public services, all of those good things that San Diegans are reliant on," said Kim.

But Measure C is facing opposition from the very people it purports to help.

"It's just a bait and switch kind of thing," said homeless advocate Michael McConnell, who claims to have spent over $100,000 of his own money on polling and analysis of Measure C. He says the measure is poorly written, and there are no guarantees the money will, in fact, help the homeless and go toward street repairs.

"The focus here is expanding the convention center, using the homelessness crisis and shoddy infrastructure to lure voters in to check the yes box," said McConnell.

But Kim said the measure provides for a citizens overview panel, and an auditor to make sure the money is appropriated correctly.

"The fact of the matter is we built in a lot of protections and accountability for those particular pots of money for those issues," said Kim

The measure will also create 7,000 new jobs once expansion is complete, Kim said.

However, McConnell claims his polling shows the Convention Center simply isn't a priority for San Diegans.

"I characterize it as using the moral imperative of homeless crisis to push a low-priority project on to voters," said McConnell.

Measure C will need a two-thirds majority vote to win approval.

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