San Diego

San Diego City Council Votes Against Holding Special Election for Hotel Tax Measure

The City Council on Monday voted against holding a special election in November, just days after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer used his veto power to restore funding

A special election would have placed a hotel tax measure on the ballot in November. The hotel tax hike would be used to fund a Convention Center expansion, street upgrades and homelessness programs, according to Faulconer.

“Our city deserves better than what happened today. To every San Diegan bewildered by the Council’s inability to carry out the simple task of calling an election, your disappointment is understandable, but we must move forward," Faulconer said in a statement. "I remain determined to doing what it takes, including working with the community and City Council, to expand our convention center, help our homeless and tackle the civic issues facing our city.”

Last Monday, in an 8-1 vote, the City Council blocked funding for the $5 million special election but approved the overall $3.6 billion budget for the Fiscal Year 2018.

Following the vote, Faulconer announced he would use his veto authority to override the City Council's decision--which he did on Thursday. 

During a meeting Monday, the council voted 5-4 against holding a special election.

The Tourism Coalition released a statement in response to the vote, which read, in part:

"The tourism coalition is disappointed some council members chose a narrow special interest today instead of doing what's best for San Diego. They turned their backs on 184,000 San Diegans employed by the tourism industry, and 5,000 men, women and children living on our streets. Without an alternative, they turned down a plan that included a billion dollars for homeless services and a billion more for road repairs, not to mention the city services a modern and expanded convention center would pay for in every neighborhood."

The decision also puts SoccerCity in jeopardy. The project was not included in the proposal but very much felt its effects.

Organizers hoped a special election would be approved, making it easier to get SoccerCity on the ballot at the same time.

Nick Stone, Project Manager for SoccerCity told NBC 7 this is a major setback that could kill the project altogether.  The league will be announcing expansion cities at the end of this year and waiting any longer will be too late.

)"the project is likely dead because major league soccer will have decided in November 2018, which is why they should let people vote today."

"The project is likely dead because major league soccer will have decided in November 2018, which is why they should let people vote today," Stone said.

Still, opponents of the special election said this is how democracy should work, citing Measure L--which calls for issues to be on the general election ballot when there's a higher voter turnout.

"We believe that democracy functions best when the most people participate, and so does City Council," said Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego.

The Public Land, Public Vote Coalition also sent out a statement supporting the council's decision.

"We hope the City Council will continue standing their ground and reject any attempts by FS Investors to fund a special election, since allowing FS Investors to effectively ‘buy’ an election date that suits their political needs violates the spirit of Measure L," the coalition said in a statement.

SoccerCity organizers will be back in front of City Council next Monday and told NBC 7, they'll be bringing hundreds of supporters with them, hoping the council votes in favor of a special election specifically for SoccerCity.

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