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San Diego Sends Convention Center Expansion To Court


A judge will decide whether San Diego’s plan to pay for a Convention Center expansion is legal. The council voted today Monday to send the issue to court.

— A judge will decide whether San Diego’s plan to pay for a Convention Center expansion is legal. The City Council voted today to send the issue to court.

San Diego wants to fund most of the $520 million expansion project with increased hotel taxes.

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But instead of asking the public to vote on the tax increase, San Diego let city hotel owners decide on their own whether to raise rates. Almost all the hoteliers - 92 percent of those that voted - approved increasing taxes. Now the city will ask a judge to validate the funding plan.

City Councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio said hoteliers have stepped up and shown their support for the plan. Now it’s time to make sure the tax pass through is legal.

"That is why we are taking a proactive step of going to a court and asking a court to review the financing plan, the method by which the hoteliers will make their contribution, as well as all other aspects of the project,” he said.

But DeMaio’s fellow mayoral candidate, Congressman Bob Filner, said the council has given too much power to private businesses in this deal. He said corporations that aren’t based in the city own many of the hotels.

“You’ve allowed a public tax by private people. And we don’t even know who’s voting and how many votes they got,” he said. “And most of those voters, I will bet, most of the votes did not come from the city of San Diego.”

Hotelier votes were weighted, with those closer to the Convention Center holding more sway in the election. Room taxes will increase between 1 and 3 percent based on how close a hotel is to downtown, with those closer charging more. The higher room taxes will likely not be collected until the plan is validated.

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