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Hotel Industry Pushes Passage Of Measure C To Expand San Diego Convention Center

San Diego Convention Center upstairs exhibit space on Jan. 9, 2020.

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: San Diego Convention Center upstairs exhibit space on Jan. 9, 2020.

UPDATED: 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.

The push to expand the San Diego Convention Center has amassed more than $2 million in donations ahead of the March primary.

Measure C calls for an increase in the city’s hotel room tax, also known as the transient occupancy tax. That hike in the tax varies from 1.25% to 3.25% with hotels closer to the convention center seeing a steeper increase.

The measure would raise billions of dollars that would be used for a huge convention center expansion, homeless programs and street repairs.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is a major supporter and at last December’s kick-off event, he told KPBS he is happy voters are getting a chance to weigh in.

“It’s the first time it is actually going to be on the ballot. And I think that’s why you’re seeing so much enthusiasm,” Faulconer said.

The region’s tourism industry is also out front pushing for the passage of Measure C. It argues the expansion of the convention center is vital for the region.

RELATED: Measure C Asks San Diego Voters To Approve New Hotel Tax

Reported by Erik Anderson

Supporters have raised more than $2.2 million since January 2019 to get the measure passed.

The Marriot, Hilton and Manchester Grand Hyatt are the three biggest donors to the Yes for a Better San Diego campaign.

Those three hotel companies, near the convention center property, have combined to contribute more than half of the money backing the initiative.

Michael McConnell is a private citizen who has not raised any money to speak out against Measure C. He has, however, spent more than $370,000 to convince voters not to support the measure. His campaign literature calls the idea risky.

There is no organized opposition raising money, but there are people raising questions.

“If you had a billion dollars in new tax revenue do you think the best use of that would be to expand a convention center? Or do you think that it should be used for other purposes?” said Donna Frye, a community advocate in a January interview with KPBS.

Measure C requires a two-thirds vote at the polls because it raises taxes for a specific purpose.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

This story was updated to include Michael McConnell's spending.

Election 2020 news coverage

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Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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