Opponents of San Diego’s minimum wage increase turned in more than 55,000 signatures Tuesday in their referendum petition drive.
The San Diego Small Business Coalition announced the end to their petition drive one day ahead of the deadline.
"I'm proud of the effort we put forward to empower San Diegans to have their voices heard and urge City Council to follow the voters' lead and rescind this policy," said Jerry Sanders, president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Supporters of the referendum want San Diego voters to decide on San Diego’s minimum wage. The coalition need at least 34,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.
However, opponents also turned in 2,000 signatures from those who say they want their names removed from the petition, claiming the signature gatherers used unethical practices to get people to sign.
“Considering the expense and deceit that big business poured into this campaign, I am not surprised that this many signatures were collected,” City Council President Todd Gloria said.
But the City Attorney's office said any "withdrawal of signature" forms have to be handed in the day before the petition was turned in, so the only forms accepted will be those given to the City Attorney by Monday's end of business.
As for the referendum petition, the signatures will be sent to the Registrar of Voter's office for verification.
Gloria suggested the official counting of signatures should be closely monitored.
“It is imperative that an honest count occur and that the signatures gathered are scrutinized for validity,” he said.
Under the San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance, the minimum wage in San Diego will rise to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2015. Further wage hikes would be phased in to $11.50 an hour by 2017, followed by automatic inflation escalators.
Through the proposal, 279,000 will have the opportunity to earn up to five sick days per year.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the measure on Aug. 8 but a 6-2 vote from the City Council was enough to override the veto.
Supporters of the petition drive want the state’s minimum wage increase to take affect before a city-only increase is approved.
The fear is that if the city’s minimum wage increases first, small businesses may be forced to move out of San Diego.