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Business Owners Weigh In On Proposal To Raise San Diego’s Minimum Wage


Harry Schwartz, Co-Owner, ACE Hardware, downtown San Diego

David Gimbel, owner, Voice & Video Rentals


California's minimum wage will increase to $9 per hour next month. But some in San Diego think that’s not enough and recently proposed increasing the city’s minimum wage to $13.09. However, not everyone agrees with the hike and the issue has divided the business community.

David Gimbel, owner of a video equipment rental store, said while a minimum wage increase wouldn’t directly affect him because he already pays employees nearly double that, he supports it. He points to the raise's impact on the local economy.

“All the statistics show that cities who have increase their minimum wage get much more money going back into the community — almost 100 percent of every dollar out of those raises goes right back in the community,” he said.

On the other side, there's Harry Schwartz, co-owner of the downtown ACE Hardware store. He said the increase wouldn’t just give a few more bucks to minimum wage workers, but that all hourly workers would expect a raise. Even his employees who already earn $10 an hour.

California's Minimum Wage

The state of California is set to gradually raise its minimum wage from the current $8 to $10 an hour by 2016. But a bill is making its way through the state Legislature that would raise California's minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017.

“So as the minimum wage goes up — assumedly to 13.09 — the whole pay scale for hourly workers goes up," he said. "So we’re not properly measure what the impact would be on small businesses and that’s a concern to me.”

To accommodate his workers’ expectations, Schwartz said he would have to raise prices, possibly losing business to hardware stores in nearby cities.

Just last week, organizations on either side of the debate held competing news conferences, and pointed to studies that support their respective views on the issue.

At a news conference Thursday, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce released a report that showed the increase would hurt small businesses and minimally benefit San Diegans living in poverty.

But Thursday night, proponents of the proposal to increase San Diego's minimum wage hosted a rally in Hillcrest to drum up support. They say the current rate of $8 per hour isn't enough to make ends meet without government assistance, according to a report released earlier this year by Center on Policy Initiatives.

This week, the city's Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee will be discussing the proposal supported by Council President Todd Gloria. If the committee approves Gloria's proposal Wednesday, it will go to the full City Council. Council members will then decide whether to approve the wage hike or send it to the ballot for a public vote.

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