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San Diego Hoteliers Win First Court Battle Against Filner

A court hearing on Mayor Bob Filner's refusal to release funds needed to manage San Diego's Tourism Marketing District will take place on March 22, a judge ruled today.

Aired 3/5/13 on KPBS News.

A judge weighed in today on the fight between Mayor Bob Filner and San Diego hoteliers and the hoteliers walked away with a small victory.

A view of the San Diego skyline from across the bay.
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Above: A view of the San Diego skyline from across the bay.

The decision by Judge Timothy Taylor gives hotel operators an initial victory in their lawsuit against Filner, which seeks to get him to implement a 40-year extension of the TMD approved by the City Council last fall. The TMD wanted an expedited hearing on the case.

Taylor rejected arguments by Filner that he had to get himself a lawyer because he cannot depend on City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to adequately represent his interests. The two have been at loggerheads since Filner took office in December.

"The city -- I'm trying to protect the taxpayers -- deserves adequate representation for the mayor,'' Filner told reporters after the hearing.

During the hearing, Taylor told the mayor he had 17 days to find a lawyer.

"I don't agree with your tentative ruling,'' Filner responded.

The mayor said he will have to ask the City Council for authorization to hire outside counsel at municipal expense.

The TMD receives 2 percent of hotel room bills, on top of the city's 10.5 percent room tax, and uses the money to advertise San Diego as a vacation destination. The collection works out to around $30 million annually.

Tourism officials told members of the City Council last week that the dispute has forced them to postpone a $5.4 million advertising campaign designed to bring visitors this summer.

Filner wants to shorten the deal from 40 years to a couple of years, a livable wage paid to employees by hotel owners, more revenue to be used for public safety, and indemnification if judges rule against the TMD's funding mechanism in separate cases.

The city attorney says the money isn't allowed to be shifted into other purposes, and the city's agreement with the TMD includes indemnification. Filner's other issues are up to the City Council, according to Goldsmith.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Kapich'

Kapich | March 5, 2013 at 12:33 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Clarification. While the district is set up for 39.5 years, there is a 5-year operating agreement between the City and TMD. It is this 5-year agreement that the Mayor hasn't signed. Essentially his request to have a shorten deal is already done. The City has oversight of the district, it performs audits and receives an administrative fee. It is a good public-private partnership to grow tourism in San Diego.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | March 6, 2013 at 7:58 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

The City gave away a No-Bid Contract from the public Convention Center to the Tourism Authority as part of the Conspiracy to increase Hotel Taxes without a public vote.

According to the Hoteliers, they want the small lucrative conventions moved from the downtown Convention Center to their own private luxury hotels.

An easy way to verify is to see what Convention business moved from our public venue (which pays down our public debt) to private venues owned by the Tourism Authority Board.

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