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Roundtable: Leaving Political Parties, Voting on Rent Control, Raising Hotel Taxes

JW August, managing editor for 10 News, Alison St John, senior metro reporter for KPBS News, and Katie Orr, metro reporter for KPBS News, talk about the week's stories.

Guests: JW August, managing editor, 10 News

Alison St. John, senior metro reporter, KPBS News

Katie Orr, metro reporter, KPBS News


Leaving The Party - Last month, Nathan Fletcher announced he had left the Republican Party to officially become an independent candidate for mayor of San Diego.

This week, a coalition of nearly 40 San Diego business executives with some well-known names – Jacobs, Waitt, Walton, Jones, Malarkey – announced they were following suit with the formation of Movement to the Middle, a group aimed at ending partisan gridlock.

We look at what this means for local political parties, the mayor’s race and particularly for Fletcher, who got a jump in fundraising and in the polls with his move. We also look at what critics are saying about his motives and what the political parties are saying about the potential effects of the movement.

Oceanside And Rent Control - Oceanside has 17 privately owned mobile home parks which have been subject to rent control for nearly 30 years. The 1984 ordinance was designed to help provide seniors and veterans with affordable housing.

Last May, the City Council voted to phase out rent control in the parks. The issue will come before Oceanside voters (as Proposition E) in June.

Mobile homes are generally owner-occupied, but must rent the land they park on. Since the council vote a year ago, the value of the mobile homes has fallen steeply so that if, say, a resident had to sell to finance assisted-living accommodations, they couldn’t. Park owners say rent control has left them unable to finance repairs and improvements. Proposition E mandates that present owners’ rent will stay controlled until they move out.

Hotel Owners Vote to Raise Taxes - The votes are in and more than 90 percent of San Diego hotel owners voted to increase room taxes to help finance an expansion of the Convention Center. The taxes will increase from 1 to 3 percent, depending on how far the hotel is from the Convention Center. Downtown, the room taxes could go from 12.5 percent to 15 percent.

There are obstacles in the plan's path, including a California law that says tax hikes require a public vote. Hoteliers may not have the right to raise taxes, even on hotel rooms they own.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith will file a validation lawsuit asking the courts to determine the legality of the tax increase. The lawsuit could take a year or more to resolve. Approval of the Coastal Commission for the expansion is also required. Organized labor has said it will fight the expansion.

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