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Enough Signatures Gathered To Force San Diego Minimum Wage Hike To Ballot

Photo by Claire Trageser

Jason Roe, a spokesman for the San Diego Small Business Coalition, talks to San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders at a news conference announcing the group has enough signatures to force a vote on the minimum wage increase, Sept. 16, 2014.

San Diego's minimum wage workers will not be getting city-mandated raises this year.

In a tweet, San Diego City Clerk Liz Maland said the referendum against the City Council-approved minimum wage hike was successful, Oct. 16, 2014.

That's because opponents to the City Council-approved minimum wage increase have successfully gathered enough signatures to force the issue on a future ballot, probably in June 2016.

San Diego City Clerk Liz Maland announced the results late Thursday morning.

Maland said the issue will now go to the City Council, which also has the option to rescind the increase.

Jerry Sanders, CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which backed the referendum campaign, said he was pleased with the announcement.

"Our successful effort to qualify the referendum proves that voters find this issue important enough to combat aggressive blocking from the opposition to make sure that City Council knows they don’t agree with this bad policy," the former mayor said in a statement.

"An increase in the minimum wage of this magnitude would be detrimental to San Diego jobs, the economy and small businesses and would put our city at a competitive disadvantage as compared to nearby cities not affected by such an increase," he said.

Rabbi Laurie Coskey of Raise Up San Diego, which supports the increase, said the group was confident San Diego voters will approve the increase if City Council forwards it to the ballot.

"Dr. Martin Luther King taught us that the arc of the moral universe is long, but that it bends towards justice. When the Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Law goes into effect, WHEN, not IF, will help lift up more than 200,000 San Diegans who are struggling to make ends meet on poverty wages," she said in a statement.

In July, the City Council voted to raise wages incrementally to $11.50 an hour by 2017. The first hike was scheduled to go into effect in January.

Council President Todd Gloria, who pushed for the wage hike, put out a statement that the council will discuss on Monday whether to rescind the measure or put it on the June 2016 ballot. He said he supports putting it on the ballot.

"Sixty-three percent of San Diegans support increasing the minimum wage, according to a recent poll," Gloria said. "It is disappointing that big businesses have used their money and misinformation to block thousands of San Diegans from receiving a pay raise in January that would help them keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table.”

The San Diego Small Business Coalition opposed the wage increase and funded a signature-gathering effort to put it on the ballot.

It's the third time in a year that opponents have gathered enough signatures to reverse a decision made by the City Council.

Opponents forced a Barrio Logan community plan update to the ballot, which San Diego voters rejected in June. In March, the City Council rescinded an increase to a fee on developers after enough signatures were collected to put it before voters.

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