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Citizens Plan’ Backers Submit Signatures To Qualify November Ballot Measure

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Michael Schuerman

A view of the San Diego Convention Center and the downtown skyline from Coronado, Feb. 14, 2015.

Backers of a proposed ballot measure that would direct the future of the tourism industry in San Diego turned in more than 100,000 signatures to the county Registrar of Voters Office Wednesday.

The Citizens Plan for San Diego would raise hotel room taxes by 5 percent to 15.5 percent, prohibit a waterfront expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and encourage an expansion of San Diego State University and UC San Diego onto the Qualcomm Stadium site.

The proposed initiative also would require voter approval of any public funds that would be spent on building a downtown stadium for the Chargers, and support the creation of parkland along the San Diego River.

In a scathing opinion released about two weeks ago, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the Citizens Plan would bring "significant risk" to the city.

Among other things, Goldsmith pointed to what he called a "poison pill" provision that says if a section is ruled invalid in court and appeals are exhausted, the rest of the initiative will be invalid. He said a poison pill was unusual and could bring financial risk to the city in the event of litigation.

Goldsmith identified six areas of the Citizens Plan that could be legally questionable.

In his 25-page opinion, Goldsmith also said the initiative could violate the single-subject rule, which limits ballot measures and laws to one issue.

Lawyer Cory Briggs, who drafted the initiative along with former Councilwoman Donna Frye, told City News Service that Goldsmith "is wrong, period."

The registrar's office will validate the signatures to see if the Citizens Plan will qualify for the November general election ballot. Almost 66,500 valid signatures are required.

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