Impact of Measure L on SoccerCity and Hotel Tax initiatives

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Supporters of the SoccerCity development plan want voters to have their say this November in a special election.

The decision to hold a special election won’t be made lightly because last year, voters approved a charter amendment called Prop L. 

When voters approved Prop L last fall, they were told that any initiatives and referendums would have to be part of a November general election. That’s an election held in even years.

Yet proponents of the SoccerCity plan, and the mayor’s proposal to raise the tourism tax, say city council believes that a vote on these critical issues can’t wait.

Related Link: Measure L: General Election

When should San Diegans get a chance to vote on the SoccerCity development? And when should they get a chance to vote on Mayor Faulconer’s plan to raise the hotel tax, a tax hike that would pay for expanding the bayfront Convention Center, as well as pumping more money into road repairs and programs to help the homeless.

Supporters of both would like a vote this year, but under charter Measure L, city council has to make an exception to make that possible.

Measure L states that citizens’ initiatives and referendum measures should be put to the voters in a November general election. Those are in even numbered years, when most political offices are decided.

The charter amendment was meant to ensure that the voice of the people is heard.

Sharon Spivak is the deputy city attorney who oversees election law. For both the increase in the hotel tax and the SoccerCity proposal to get on the ballot this fall, city council would have to make an exception, but that’s allowed.

The charter amendment said the initiative should be presented in a general election in November unless the council chooses to submit the measure prior to that election.

Notably, the charter does not say which conditions are necessary to schedule an earlier election. It’s all in the hands of city council.

But former City Councilwoman Donna Frye said that’s not that voters wanted when they approved Prop L.

She said the city may have the legal right to set up a special election, but she asks why should they?

And then there’s the cost of a special election. Jeanne Brown is the president of the San Diego League of Women Voters. Every special election brings additional cost, a factor that could make an earlier ballot less attractive.

Supporters of SoccerCity say they will lose their chance to bring a Major League Soccer team to San Diego if they issue isn’t put to a vote this year. Goal SD, the group that’s campaigning for the Mission Valley development, said that’s because the league is choosing expansion cities at the end of this year.

The next move is up to city council, which will decide in the next two to three weeks, if the city should hold a special election this November.

Categories: Local San Diego News, SoccerCity Proposal