Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: California Recall Election Results | Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Hotel Tax To Fund Convention Center Expansion Approved

A legally questionable plan to fund the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center with a self-imposed room tax hike was overwhelmingly approved by hoteliers, the city clerk's office announced today.

The increase was backed by 92.03 percent of hotel owners, City Clerk Elizabeth Maland said.

The money is expected to pay for the bulk of the project, estimated to cost more than $500 million. City officials want the businesses that will benefit the most by expansion to pay for its cost.

The next step will be to take the funding plan to court.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said he believes the legality of the method for initiating the room tax hike is uncertain, so he intends to ask a judge whether the plan meets legal muster by filing a validation lawsuit. Under California law, tax increases require a public vote, but the jump in the hotel room tax was only weighed by the affected property owners.

The city of San Jose used a method that was similar, but not exactly the same, for its convention center, according to Goldsmith. He also said the San Jose plan was unopposed, unlike the San Diego funding mechanism, which is disliked by area labor unions.

If the plan is implemented, room taxes in downtown hotels closest to the convention center would increase by 3 percent. Those a little farther out, like Mission Valley and Mission Bay, would go up by 2 percent. At more outlying facilities, the tax would climb by 1 percent.

City officials want a bigger convention center because San Diego is losing the largest meetings to other cities. The city nearly lost the biggest local event, Comic-Con International, which was wooed a couple of years ago by rival towns with larger buildings.

The tax increase would generate $35.7 million annually to pay off construction bonds. The city of San Diego is set to contribute $3.5 million annually of its room tax income and the Port of San Diego is set to contribute $3 million per year.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.