Roundtable: Hotel Tax Judged; 10 Years In Iraq; Some Homeless Housed; Padres Fans V. Broadcasters.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Roundtable: Hotel Tax, Iraq War, Connections Housing, Padres Broadcasts
Brad Racino, I-Newsource (update on MTS security)
Dean Calbreath, San Diego Daily Transcript
Tony Perry, San Diego Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times
David Rolland, editor, San Diego CityBeat
Katie Orr, KPBS News metro reporter
Taxation Without Representation? - Judge Ronald Prager ruled this week that San Diego hoteliers’ plan to pay for the expansion of the convention center by levying a fee on themselves conforms to “all applicable constitutional provisions, statues and ordinances.”
Proponents of the hotel fee/tax have likened it to a Mello Roos program, a neighborhood assessment of itself for neighborhood projects.
Roundtable participants noted that San Diego and other California cities may increasingly attempt creative financing arrangements to fund projects, now that there is no more redevelopment money from the state.
Opponents believe the fee was really a tax and therefore illegal because the public didn’t vote on it. In fact the public voted against an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax on hotel guests in 2004.
Furthermore, the hotels are not in one neighborhood, but strung out all over the city. The assessment is to be on a sliding scale, depending on proximity to the convention center.
Possible consequences of this ruling are interesting to consider. Scott Lewis noted in a Voice of San Diego column this week that business leaders might decide to tax their consumers so they can build – whatever. Maybe a new Chargers stadium.
10 Years In Iraq. Already? - This month marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and analysts and pundits are looking at what it has cost us.
More than 4,500 Americans have been killed and tens of thousands more have been wounded. There are at least 117,000 Iraqi dead.
In treasure, the war has cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion (some say $3 trillion). Healthcare costs for veterans are still rising and are estimated to be in the range of $450 to 700 billion. The war has arguably cost us prestige abroad as well as anguish at home.
Marines from Camp Pendleton have been in the thick of it since the beginning, many returning for multiple tours.
Connecting Homeless To Housing: - The City of San Diego finally opened Connections Housing this week, the one-stop center downtown for the chronically homeless.
The center, which provides studio apartments for 73 and transitional beds for 150, also includes job counseling, mental health screening, and drug and alcohol treatment for residents.
There are other on-going projects to assist the homeless and others in San Diego who need services and more in the works. But many advocates do not believe the contention that Connections or the other efforts will eliminate the need for the city’s winter shelter. They regard this as a good first step only. This year’s count found 1,000 homeless living on the streets downtown.
Will Broadcasters Play Ball? - Mayor Bob Filner; some city council members (notably Sherri Lightner); various sports columnists and all Padres fans north of I-8 would like to be able to see San Diego’s MLB team play on TV this year.
So far, not so good, as Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner Cable have been unable to come to an agreement to broadcast the games again this year.
Lightner convened an unusual hearing before the City Council Rules Committee Thursday morning, attended by the mayor, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and council members David Alvarez and Marti Emerald.
The hearing was designed to pressure Time Warner and Fox Sports to come to terms. But neither company would give the committee the financial information they sought. Emerald told the executives the council would subpoena the information.
The committee gave the companies notice that they would continue the pressure, regardless of whether the city can actually affect a dispute between two private businesses.