San Diego City Council and Board of Commissioners review Convention Center expansion agreement

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Expansion of the convention center took a significant step forward today when the city council and the port district approved a deal to transfer the land needed to expand from 5th Avenue Landing Company to the city of San Diego.

Under a settlement deal reached last week, 5th Avenue Landing will get $5 million up front, and another $25 million if the expansion is approved by voters in November.

The estimate to get this done is $3.5 million, $1.2 million for the signature drive and another two million or so to fund the campaign.

The Port of San Diego board was the first to vote approval for the land transfer, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer delivered remarks similar to what he told the city council an hour later.

“Simply put, this agreement is critical to the future of our San Diego economy, and your approval today will revitalize the opportunity for San Diego to complete one of the most important civic projects in a generation,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The votes allow this initiative to move forward. Enough signatures have been collected to get the initiative on the ballot.

“we’ve collected over 100 thousand and we plan to turn them in by mid-month,” said Mike McDowell of the Lodging Industry.

Those signatures will likely be turned in on Friday.

The expansion will be funded by an increase in the hotel tax that ranges from 12-and a half cents to 16 cents.

Previous efforts to increase the hotel tax failed. McDowell says the tax is on visitors, so locals don’t pay.

“We’re gonna reinforce that and make sure that people understand that when they travel they end up paying this tax in other communities and those communities benefit from that, here if the visitors are gonna pay and help us develop these programs our community will benefit as well,” McDowell said.

The theme of the initiative is “For a Better San Diego ” and it has broad support from the hospitality industry, business and labor.

“And of course, we have several of the homelessness advocates, and housing advocates as part of this so it’s a broad coalition that really is looking to bring this forward,” McDowell said.

The coalition is still broadening and seeking endorsements to gear up for the labor day campaign.

“We’re trying to reach out to those who might have some questions and engage them in the positives of our initiative,” McDowell said.

There is no organized opposition that we know of, increasing the chance this will pass with a two-thirds vote.

“We’re going to give it our all but there are some pretty high thresholds that we have to get over and we’re prepared to go there this time,” McDowell said.

This will have to compete with other initiatives on the ballot, including SoccerCity, SDSU West, the gas tax repeal and others.

“We’re not those other initiatives and we’ve got a good story to tell and we’re gonna tell that,” McDowell said.

What if this fails. McDowell says we don’t know what might happen but we’re planning to win this time.

 

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