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Lawsuit Against Convention Center Expansion Expected Soon

Above: A rendering of the proposed Convention Center expansion.

Aired 10/14/13 on KPBS News.

Although the Convention Center expansion cleared its final regulatory hurdle last week, the project will not be breaking ground anytime soon.

Although the Convention Center expansion cleared its final regulatory hurdle last week, the project will not be breaking ground for at least two years. That's because lawsuits are holding up construction.

Attorney Cory Briggs, the most vocal opponent of the Convention Center expansion, has already filed one lawsuit against the expansion's financing plan. It challenges a hotel room tax increase that would pay for the expansion because the tax was not approved by a public vote. The lawsuit is currently waiting for an appeals court hearing and could go all the way to the California Supreme Court.

Briggs represents the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, a group concerned about development on San Diego's bayfront. He says he'll file another lawsuit on their behalf in 30 to 60 days challenging the approval of the Convention Center expansion.

"It's about the law," he said. "They broke the law, they have to live with the consequences. If they really cared about jobs and the economy, they would have a Plan B, but the politicians don't want to have a Plan B. They want the plan to have the taxpayers subsidize something that provides no benefit to them."

Steven Johnson, a spokesman for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, said he's confident the appeals court will support the financing plan.

He said San Diego is already losing conventions because the Convention Center has not expanded. As an example, he cited the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society convention, which outgrew San Diego's space.

"Anything that drags this out further will only continue to hurt us," Johnson said.

Briggs is up against powerful interest groups, including labor, business and city leaders. Johnson said Briggs's lawsuits could delay the project enough that San Diego could lose Comic-Con.

"They lose money because they don't have enough space to sell to exhibitors," he said. "Anybody would think long and hard from a business standpoint about continuing to do something that loses you money."

But Briggs said "Comic-Con is not going anywhere."

"That's a myth," he said, adding that Comic-Con does not need contiguous event space to hold their convention in San Diego.

Briggs said he's not getting paid for his work—he'll only collect money if his clients win.

Comments

Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | October 15, 2013 at 6:15 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

The public financing issues could be finalized by the Constitutionally required public vote as soon as June 2014 for the next Statewide election. The City of San Diego will be putting other citywide Propositions onto the June 2014 and November 2014 ballots including the Barrio Logan plan, and City Charter amendments. Adding additional items would not add much additional ballot costs.

http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilpolicies/cpd_000-21.pdf

The deadline to get on the June 2014 ballot should be sometime in January 2014, a few months away.

The deadline to get on the November 2014 ballot should be sometime in June 2014.

The ballot questions would be simple:

1. Would the public approve a 5% TOT Hotel Tax increase on visitors only for public Infrastructure and Capitol Projects (4%), including a Penny for the Arts (1%). Need 2/3% voter approval. Infrastructure and Capitol Project includes a Convention Center Expansion and/or Stadium.

2. Advisory Vote Only. If the Hotel Tax increase passes, would the public approve $575 million for a stand alone Convention Center Expansion, or would public like the already
pre-approved $575 million Cap to be used for a multi-purpose Stadium and Convention Center Expansion, including CEQA analysis of multiple alternative sites, and formation of a joint powers authority through SANDAG ?

( | suggest removal )