Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Evening Edition

San Diego Officials Push Tourist Tax Hike For Civic Projects

The San Diego Convention Center is seen in the background in this photo taken March 4, 2018.
Milan Kovacevic
The San Diego Convention Center is seen in the background in this photo taken March 4, 2018.

Boosters are renewing their push for a tax measure that would pay for a convention center expansion, homeless services and road paving.

It is similar to an initiative that failed to get on to the ballot in 2018.

San Diego Officials Push Tourist Tax Hike For Civic Projects
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

The Yes for San Diego Campaign hopes to raise billions of dollars for some long-sought-after civic projects.

The March 2020 initiative raises the hotel tourist tax by about 30%. The nightly room tax would jump from 10.5% to 13.5%. Hotels farther away from downtown would pay less.

“We need this funding source,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “We need a permanent source of funding for homeless services. We need to expand our convention center and the dollars this will mean for road improvement. These are the issues that San Diegans care about. And I think that’s why you see such broad and deep public support for getting this done.”

RELATED: Alpha Project Celebrates Opening Of Apartments That House San Diego Vets

Video: San Diego Hotel Tax Increase Proposal Gets Broad Support

The measure sets aside $147 million a year for five years for homeless services and housing. It creates a funding stream to repair 150 miles of city roads each year and city boosters also see the measure as a way to pay for a convention center overhaul.

Officials hope to bump out the bayside of the convention center, in essence, adding 50% more floor space to the main hall. That plan already has the approval of the California Coastal Commission.

“They want to make sure that we’re able to retain those large wonderful conventions like Comic-Con here in San Diego,” said Kerri Kapich of the San Diego Tourism Authority. “They want to see that the city has more resources to apply to the issue around homelessness and they’re also looking for the opportunity to make quality of life better by improving our roads."

The measure will not be easy to pass because it contains a tax increase. That means the initiative requires a two-thirds vote from the public for approval.

Supporters only have 150 days to convince voters to back their measure.

The push for a tax measure that would pay for a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road paving is back — what's different this time. Plus, California this week launched a peer-run phone line that offers callers emotional support. The new statewide resource is just another option for local residents. Also on today’s podcast, the number of reported heat-related injuries in the military has skyrocketed in the past few years. So the Pentagon is turning one base into a world center for fighting those injuries. And, San Diego native, Samin Nosrat is back in her hometown, after traveling all over the world hosting the popular Netflix series 'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.'