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What’s Next For San Diego Convention Center Expansion?

Evening Edition

Aired 8/5/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

What's Next For San Diego Convention Center Expansion?

GUESTS

Cory Briggs, attorney, Briggs Law Corp.

Steven Johnson, vice president public affairs, San Diego Convention Center.

Transcript

Aired 8/5/14 on KPBS News.

The fate of the $520 million Convention Center project is uncertain after a state appeals court ruled Friday that the city's plan to fund the expansion was unconstitutional.

The $520 million San Diego Convention Center expansion suffered a blow late Friday when an appeals court ruled that the city's plan to finance the project through a hotel-room tax was unconstitutional.

Now that the funding plan is a no-go, the fate of the overall project is uncertain, and a lot of unanswered questions are swirling around: Will the city challenge the ruling? If so, will the California Supreme Court even hear it? And what happens to the Convention Center expansion if Friday’s ruling is upheld?

For now, City Council President Todd Gloria said the city is working on the first question — to appeal or not to appeal.

"We’re very much discussing this with the Mayor’s Office and the City Attorney’s Office now to understand, sort of, our range of options — particularly our timelines that are involved," Gloria said.

Cory Briggs, an attorney who challenged the expansion’s funding plan, has also questioned other aspects of the project.

“We’re in a wait-and-see mode," Briggs said. "If the city wants to try to salvage the illegal funding mechanism, and they can get the voters to approve it, we still have to litigate the (California) Coastal Act issues of whether they can put it on the waterfront."

Gloria said he hopes the council will discuss its next steps in the coming days. The City Council is in recess during August, but it could schedule a special session before next month.

The expansion was to be paid for through a hotel-room tax that hoteliers — not voters — approved. A state law says increasing taxes requires approval by two-thirds of voters.

The state 4th District Court of Appeal said because voters didn't approve the tax it violated the state constitution and the City Charter.

KPBS's Maureen Cavanaugh, Peggy Pico and Marissa Cabrera contributed to this report.

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