San Diego’s Proposed Hotel Tax Increase Falls Short with Voters

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A proposed hotel tax increase in San Diego fell short with voters at the polls yesterday, failing to obtain a two-thirds majority it needed to pass. Support for the measure said the hotel tax increase would have funded projects like an expansion of the convention center, road improvements, and homelessness aid.

Measure C backers said the proposal was introduced to help San Diego retain its spot as a world-class tourist destination, something they believe to be diminishing. They cite a growing homelessness crisis, pothole-riddled city streets, and dated convention and tourist facilities as why Measure C needed to pass.

Despite 100% reporting for all precincts, Measure C garnered 63.5% of the vote, just 2.5% shy of the votes needed to pass. It is still unclear whether there were enough provisional and mail ballots to potentially push the number of votes across the threshold. If it passed, hotel taxes would have gone up from 1.25% to 3.25%, depending on the hotel’s proximity to the San Diego Convention Center.

If passed, the measure was projected to raise $3.8 billion to expand the convention center, $2 billion for homelessness programs, and $600 million for road repairs over the course of its 42-year life. Supporters of the measure say it was a viable way to raise revenue for critical San Diego projects without placing a burden on local residents.

The benefit to homeless programs alone would have gone a long way to address the crisis in San Diego, which some city officials have called a “humanitarian crisis.” Measure C was supported by homeless organizations such as PATH, Father Joe’s Village, and Serving Seniors.

Opponents see the measure as being a tactless way to increase taxes without any guarantee that the money would be used for the things voters are being led to believe. Activist Michael McConnell wrote in an op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune “It is clear Measure C is full of loopholes and uncertainty, offering no guarantee the money will be spent as intended and potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in bonds.”

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