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Roundtable: Money, Polls & Debates in Mayor’s Race; Anger Developing Over Linkage Fees

Audio

Aired 11/8/13

HOST

Mark Sauer

GUESTS

Joe Yerardi, inewsource

Claire Trageser, KPBS News

Dean Calbreath, San Diego Daily Transcript

Transcript

Money and the Mayor's Race

The 2013 San Diego mayoral primary may be operating in a shorter-than-usual timeframe, but that hasn't kept it from becoming a multimillion-dollar race.

Contributions to all candidates have topped $4 million and are dominated by large amounts from the independent committees supporting them.

Polling, Rhetoric Up And Down in Mayor's Race

San Diego’s mayoral election is less than two weeks away. Just as the money is flowing in (and out), debates are sprouting like mushrooms.

This week, Voice of San Diego held a forum billed as a "no BS debate," with a freeform format featuring frequent flurries of interruptions, no opening statements and limited opportunities for 30-second soundbites.

The issue of neighborhoods vs. downtown interests continues to dominate the debates, although all candidates say neighborhood needs should take priority over any projects aimed for downtown.

Mike Aguirre continues to focus mainly on pension reform, an issue the other candidates seem uninterested in.

There have been two recent polls in the race, both featuring different answers to the same questions. The latest U-T/10News poll of standings of the top four mayoral candidates now shows Councilman Kevin Faulconer leading (41 percent); Nathan Fletcher second (28 percent), followed by David Alvarez (17 percent) and Mike Aguirre (7 percent).

A poll commissioned by Working Families for a Better San Diego, an independent committee supporting David Alvarez, shows Faulconer with 34 percent, Alvarez in second place with 22 percent, Fletcher at 21 percent and Aguirre with 5 percent.

Low-Paying Jobs Generate Higher Development Fees

On Monday, the San Diego City Council voted 5-4 to boost the “linkage fees” the city charges developers to pay for affordable housing. The fee is calculated based on how many low-income jobs a particular development will create. It is supposed to help low-income workers live in the city they in which they work.

When it was instituted in 1991, the fee was 1.5 percent of construction costs. It was lowered to .75 percent in 1996 where it remained until Monday, still calculated based on 1991 construction costs. Under the proposal passed Monday, the fee will go back to what it was at the beginning: 1.5 percent of 1991 costs. It will rise again at the beginning of 2014 and again on July 1, 2015, when it reaches 1.5 percent of 2013 construction costs. Inflation related adjustments will kick in in 2016.

City attorney Jan Goldsmith has expressed doubts over whether the fee is a fee or a tax, per recent court rulings. If it’s a tax, it must be approved by voters. Some business interests, including the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, have threatened lawsuits over the fees and a referendum to do away with it.

The city council will consider legislation to exempt non-profits like universities and hospitals from the fees.

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