Pow! Doink! Yikes! FacePalm!
The latest grand plan for saving San Diego from the shame of not having a big enough Convention Center flopped on Wednesday. And again on Thursday.
Yes! For a Better San Diego, the coalition seeking an increase in a hotel tax, failed to get enough signatures for its ‘citizen’s initiative’ to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.
San Diego City Clerk Elizabeth Maland reported a random count by the county Registrar of Voters triggered the requirement for a full verification of all signatures. Such a count would take up to 30 days to complete, causing the proposed measure to miss Friday’s deadline for placing anything on the ballot.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer was ready to save the day, and an emergency meeting of the City Council considered a similar proposal for the ballot, calling for raising the hotel tax to fund the convention center project, finance homeless initiatives and pay for road repairs.
UPDATE: The City Council did not vote to put the measure on the ballot. The vote was 4-4, with Councilman Kersey calling in from Ohio. Various members of the coalition supporting it argued for the measure to be put to the voters.
A representative for the City Attorney said her office would not sign off on forwarding the measure to the November ballot if any substantive changes were made at the meeting.
Councilmembers were skeptical of the process, with David Alvarez saying ” “We left the public out of this. This was a last-ditch effort because we did not want to work with the public.”
Quote of the day goes to Tom Lemmon, who aptly called this whole convention center campaign a “shit show.”
— Matthew Thoreau Hall (@SDuncovered) August 10, 2018
The Yes! Fora Better San Diego campaign promised they’d be back for a future ballot. And they announced a lawsuit against the company paid to collect signatures.
From the Times of San Diego:
Arno Petition Consultants was hired by the Yes! For a Better San Diego campaign to gather signatures for the initiative to expand the convention center while providing funds for homeless programs and road repair.
“Not only did Arno fail to deliver on their basic obligation to collect signatures, they seem to have misled us every step of the way,” said campaign officials, who suggested the Arno firm fabricated signature reports.
A city-sponsored initiative would have needed to meet the two-thirds voter approval threshold in the general election. The failed citizen’s effort might have needed only 51%, depending on past and anticipated court rulings.
I suspect this measure was and remains a lost cause. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent paying professional signature gatherers. When they failed to meet expectations, more money went down the drain.
When people who’ll do or say anything to get a mark to put a mark on a piece of paper can’t get the job done, that should be a clue.
Maybe, just maybe, people weren’t rushing out to retail centers to sign these petitions because they didn’t support the latest itineration of “the sky is falling and Comic-Con is leaving.”
The grand plan for this time was too little, too late. The downtown/hotelier/chamber of commerce types decided to include organized labor in the coalition this time. Money for undefined “homeless services” and fewer potholes was promised.
It wasn’t enough. The well was already poisoned. And this city-sponsored measure would have failed come November, if the Council had put it on the ballot.
Here’s an idea that won’t be happening soon because this is San Diego: tell the truth.
We want our homeless humans living in housing. All the services in the world won’t keep people off the street if there is no place they can afford to live in. The fact is a ballot measure to fund housing did terrifically in early polling.
It did so well some of the ‘Yes! For a Better San Diego’-types participated in a sub-rosa effort to get such an initiative pushed back to 2020, so as not to interfere with their plans.
I don’t know the particulars, but it’s not hard to suspect financial backing for ongoing stop-gap solutions for our neediest citizens were threatened. Or perhaps there’s another quid pro quo I’m not aware of. The point is pressure was brought to bear, and the people at the bottom of the economic heap came in second.
If San Diego’s Convention Center boosters promised to go all in on comprehensive solutions (housing, counseling, job training, and promises of employment), perhaps the stank from the last few failed efforts would go away.
This is sad in some small way because there is an argument to be made for appropriately using this city’s natural assets as a draw for meetings and conferences. The Convention Center’s management appears to be headed in a good direction, paying living wages, and showing an increased understanding of their role in the greater community.
The private entities benefitting from this community asset, on the other hand, haven’t gotten beyond the level of public relations opportunities. I suspect they honestly believe their business presence in the city’s skyline creates a trickledown effect we should all be grateful for.
Then there’s the City of San Diego’s role in all this. Just about everything they’ve touched, from the $30 million piece of land they let slip away, to the failure to provide oversight of downtown’s development, to the criminalization of homelessness, reeks of malfeasance.
Here’s the Union-Tribune, starting out by quoting Councilman David Alvarez, who has not been supportive of this convention center expansion effort:
“At this point, this would further erode public confidence and send a message that City Hall only listens to big special interests,” said Alvarez, whose own ballot proposal to increase the city’s hotel tax to raise money for homelessness programs was rejected this week by the council. “We had that chance earlier and chose not to do that. Clearly, there was a struggle to get signatures and it goes to the fact that people are pretty clear about what they want to see: more money for housing and homelessness.”
Like the citizens’ initiative, which sought to revive a long-stalled expansion of the convention center, the proposed ballot measure calls for boosting the city’s effective hotel tax of 12.5 percent to 15.75 percent for downtown hotels, 14.75 percent for Mission Valley and Mission Bay-area hotels and 13.75 percent for hotels in the northern and southern peripheries of the city.
Potentially weighing on the fate of the measure and a future convention center expansion is whether a previously approved financial deal the city secured for control of the project site will remain intact.
Don Bauder at the Reader is correct to note that the words “Convention Center” seem to be left out of the discussion of the Faulconer proposal:
Truth is powerful. Let’s have some.
Let’s visit some other areas where there might be a reason to suspect a failure to be truthful is at play.
How about the former Sempra Energy building that was supposed to be such a bargain for taxpayers?
From a Union-Tribune editorial that concludes by saying they have doubts about supporting a city-sponsored measure for an increased hotel tax in November:
The City Council felt it had no choice but to vote Tuesday to spend an additional $30 million to renovate a 19-story Downtown office building that the council two years ago agreed to spend more than $200 million on over the 20-year course of a lease-to-own deal. Meanwhile, the building remains vacant, as it has since January 2017, costing taxpayers $535,000 a month plus maintenance and operating costs.
Have you seen the signature gatherers for petitions to overturn the City’s Short Term Vacation Rentals ordinance yet?
They’re out there. DON’T SIGN THE DAMN THINGS.
Our feckless mayor and his council cohorts let the issue of Air B n B type operations fester unregulated for so long that operators now feel something’s being taken away from them.
As a user of Air BnB’s services, I like the opportunity to spend my vacation dollars in alternative lodging arrangements. Last year in San Francisco, we discovered a wonderful neighborhood just south of the ballpark where the Giants play.
As a homeowner and neighborhood advocate, I do have a problem with people buying up blocks of real estate, throwing residents out, and operating what is essentially a hotel in a residential neighborhood.
The plan that Air BnB and others are financing is to get enough signatures to challenge the City Council’s decisions via the 2020 ballot. If they get enough suckers to sign, the new regulations, scheduled to go into effect in 2019, won’t take effect until a vote happens. In the meantime, it will be the wild, wild west in San Diego, especially in the beach communities.
The San Diego Police Department gets its way, thanks to a made up excuse.
Finally –for today– there’s the matter of the truth behind the excuses given for the City Council bouncing a proposed amendment to the San Diego City Charter increasing civilian oversight of the SDPD.
The reason given by City Council President Myrtle Cole for not putting this measure on the ballot was there was not sufficient time left to fulfill the ‘meet and confer’ obligation with the police union.
Cole also moved a discussion of the item from last to first on the Council’s July 30th docket, despite promises to supporters of the effort they’d have time to be heard.
Thanks to Andrew Bowen at KPBS, we now know suspicions of political sabotage have a basis in reality.
Nearly a month before that City Attorney’s Office memo, however, the City Council discussed the meet and confer process related to the police oversight measure in closed session on June 26. The meet and confer issue was also reiterated by a deputy city attorney directly to Cole at the July 11 Rules Committee meeting. De Mesa declined to clarify the timeline of Cole’s awareness of the issue.
Gerry Braun, chief of staff for City Attorney Mara Elliott, said the City Attorney’s Office brought the labor negotiation issue to the council proactively and that council members should all know when such talks with unions are necessary.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that everybody on the City Council understands what the (city’s obligation to labor unions) is at this point,” he said, pointing to a recent California Supreme Court decision finding the city violated meet and confer laws with the 2012 Proposition B pension reform measure.
Something to think about, via Politico’s California Playbook:
ODDSMAKERS NOW BETTING ON KAMALA FOR 2020 — via SFGate: According to online betting site Oddshark, Harris has surged into a tie with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the best Democratic odds to win the 2020 presidential election…Even though Oddschecker gives Harris better odds than Sanders to win the Democratic primary (9/2 to 6/1), the two both have identical 9/1 odds to win the presidential election, trailing President Trump who has 11/8 odds to get re-elected. Story.
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