San Diego Businesses Protest City Council’s Increase Of ‘Jobs Tax’
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Aired 12/12/13 on KPBS News.
San Diego companies and business organizations prepare to fight — at the ballot box — City Council's decision to increase development taxes.
Members of the Jobs Coalition raised signs in protest downtown Wednesday in opposition to the San Diego City Council’s vote to increase the linkage fee, or "jobs tax" — a tax charged to developers of non-residential projects that raises money for subsidized affordable housing.
The tax was once about 1.5 percent of the overall development costs, but was cut in half in 1996. Council’s vote will return the tax to the 1.5 percent rate.
The Jobs Coalition is made of up more than 50 local organizations and companies, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. The group also announced Wednesday the beginning of a signature drive campaign to overturn the council’s ruling.
Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce, and former San Diego mayor, said the council should have money for affordable housing from previous years.
“We built a lot of affordable housing over the last several years, we used the 20 percent set-aside from redevelopment, and all of a sudden, council finds themselves without that money,” Sanders said.
Councilman David Alvarez, a current mayoral candidate, voted in favor of the fee increase.
“Nothing was done for 17 years. The council finally acted on something, and now again, big downtown corporate interests are going to fight another decision the council has made,” Alvarez said.
The council vote was split along party lines, with five Democrats voting in favor of the increase, and four Republicans voting in opposition. Susan Riggs with the San Diego Housing Federation said it’s a sign of the times.
“I think there is a real change in the power dynamic and you’re really seeing that play out through a series of referendums that are being filed right now by the business community,” Riggs said.
The Jobs Coalition is hoping to gather enough signatures for city council to reconsider the decision, or for the issue to be on next summer's ballot. San Diego Housing Commission estimates the tax increase will result in up to $10 million in additional funds for affordable housing.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the name of the organization with which Susan Riggs is affiliated.