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The San Diego County Administration building on Pacific Highway on Feb. 5, 2021.
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Election 2022: San Diego County Measures

From cannabis taxes and building height limits to trash pick up, here’s everything voters need to know about the ballot measures in San Diego County.

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Measure A — Cannabis business tax

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What does it do?

Measure A would allow the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to impose a tax on cannabis businesses operating in the unincorporated area.

It covers both medical and recreational operations. Voters will be asked if gross receipts (or the total amounts received from all sources without subtracting any costs or expenses) should be taxed at a maximum of 6% for retail, 3% for distribution, 2% for testing, 3% for cultivation or $10 per canopy square foot and 4% for other businesses.

Measure A requires a simple majority vote and if approved, gives the board of supervisors the authority to set the initial tax rate. County officials estimate the business tax could bring in $2.9 million to $5.6 million annually and the revenue could be used for any general government purpose like parks, fire safety, roads and health. The board of supervisors voted earlier this year to send Measure A to voters.

Why is it on the ballot?

In June, San Diego County Supervisors approved an ordinance to tax cannabis businesses, subject to voter approval. The actions placed Measure A on the November ballot.

“We’re at another step in our progress towards establishing the safe, regulated and legal cannabis market in the unincorporated areas and I think this is a worthy endeavor,” said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher during the June 15th board meeting.

Supervisor Jim Desmond inquired why the measure had to go to voters countywide and not just in the unincorporated county, where the cannabis business tax would apply. County staff responded it is California law and cannot be done otherwise.

Supporters argue cities including San Diego, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Vista and Oceanside have already regulated cannabis businesses. The added revenues from Measure A would cover new costs associated with regulation and help to close illegal cannabis operations.

What are the arguments for and against?

  • For

Supporters argue Measure A is a bipartisan solution to advance a safe, regulated, and legal adult cannabis industry in San Diego County, and keeps tax revenues local. Proponents point out it does not tax cannabis users, but instead the businesses. The tax will not apply to cannabis operations in incorporated cities and therefore will not be a double tax. Supporters also said the tax is crucial to shutting down illegal cannabis operations that have plagued parts of the county.

Supporters

  • Nathan Fletcher, Chair, Board of Supervisors, District 4
  • Nora Vargas, Vice-Chair, Board of Supervisors, District 1
  • Terra Lawson-Remer, Member of the Board of Supervisors, District 3

  • Against

Opponents said the cannabis business tax is unfair because it only applies to operations in unincorporated areas in the county, yet all county voters will have the measure on their ballot. The official rebuttal also questions whether revenues would actually go to services in the areas paying the tax and is skeptical about promises of “social equity.”

Opponents

  • Haney Hong, President, San Diego Taxpayers Association
  • Dianne Jacob, former San Diego County Supervisor
  • Barry Jantz, Retired Healthcare Administrator and Former La Mesa Councilmember
  • Robert F. Kevane, Certified Public Accountant
  • The Republican Party of San Diego County
Watch the explainer

Learn more
Listen to Health Report Matt Hoffman discuss Measure A, the cannabis business tax, on KPBS Midday Edition.

The Midday Edition logo is shown in this undated graphic.

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Measure B — Waste management systems ("The People's Ordinance")

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What does it do?

It would let the city recover pickup costs from the roughly 53% of San Diegans who have been exempt from trash pickup fees.

The ballot measure would also guarantee free trash bins for all, which the city does not currently provide.

Measure B requires a simple majority vote to pass. If it passes, it would be at least two years before any fees are charged to single-family homeowners. The city would have to do a cost-of-service study first.

The city’s independent budget analyst estimates customers would pay $23 to $29 per month, per customer.

Why is it on the ballot?

Single-family homeowners in the city of San Diego haven’t paid additional fees for trash pickup in over 100 years thanks to a law called the People’s Ordinance.

Homeowners service is paid out of the city’s general fund, but multi-family complexes and businesses have to hire private waste haulers.

The San Diego City Council voted 7-2 in July to put a reform of the ordinance on the November ballot.

City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera spearheaded the campaign to change the law and said the reform would free up millions of dollars for other city priorities like infrastructure repairs, parks and libraries. He also said the current ordinance is unfair, regressive and harmful to the city's waste reduction goals.

What are the arguments for and against?

  • For

The Climate Action Campaign supports Measure B. Mikey Knab, the group’s co-director of policy, said San Diego needs a greener future of waste management.

“In a place where you never see your bill for trash removal, you don't care whether you put recyclable things into your landfill bins or compostable things into your landfill bin,” Knab said. “Therefore the landfill bins from single-family homes often have recyclable items in them and compostable items in them that are filling up the landfill way more quickly than it needs to be.”

The current policy has also been sharply criticized by three San Diego County Grand Jury reports as inequitable.

Supporters

  • Sean Elo-Rivera, San Diego City Council President
  • Joe LaCava, San Diego City Council Member
  • Nicole Capretz, Founder & CEO, Climate Action Campaign
  • Kim Knox, President, League of Women Voters of San Diego

  • Against

President & CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Haney Hong said his organization doesn't support the current ballot measure. He wants a different manner of reform: stop charging everyone fees unless they’re being extra wasteful.

“If you want to make this more fair and more equitable, the answer is not charging everybody twice, including the single-family homeowners, the answer is charging everybody once. And then actually having the city make sure that the property taxes that renters end up paying into are used to collect their trash,” Hong said.

Opponents

  • Richard Rider, San Diego Tax Fighters
  • Carl DeMaio, Chairman, Reform California
  • Brian Jones, State Senator
  • Scott Sherman, Former Chair, City of San Diego Audit Committee
Watch the explainer

Learn more
Listen to Speak City Heights Reporter Jacob Aere discuss Measure B, the repeal of "The People's Ordinance," on KPBS Midday Edition.

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Measure C — Midway building height limit

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What does it do?

Measure C would allow the construction of new buildings taller than 30 feet in the Midway District. In 1972, city voters approved a 30-foot coastal height limit on all new buildings outside downtown and west of the I-5 freeway. Measure C would carve out the Midway District from that height limit. Development would still be subject to the height limit that corresponds with a property's underlying zoning.

Measure C requires a simple majority vote to pass.

Why is it on the ballot?

Many Midway residents and property owners, and advocates for more housing in San Diego, have long sought the neighborhood's removal from the 30-foot height limit as a way to spark its revitalization. Midway is currently blighted with strip malls and strip clubs, and the owners of those properties are unlikely to build anything new if it can't exceed 30 feet. City leaders also want to redevelop the 48-acre Sports Arena property with thousands of affordable and market-rate homes and a new arena, but cannot do so under the current height restrictions.

San Diego voters already approved a ballot measure that is identical to Measure C in November 2020. But opponents sued the city, arguing it had not properly analyzed the environmental impacts of allowing taller buildings. The city lost the initial court battle and is appealing. At the same time, it is asking voters the same question it did in 2020 after having done additional environmental analysis. The same plaintiffs sued again, arguing the latest analysis was still insufficient.

What are the arguments for and against?

  • For

Supporters of Measure C say the Midway District is not a coastal neighborhood and should never have been grouped with communities like Point Loma or La Jolla in the 1972 ballot measure that established the 30-foot coastal height limit. They say keeping the height limit in place will entrench the status quo of blight in Midway and prevent thousands of homes from being built at a time when San Diego needs more housing.

Supporters

  • Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group
  • San Diego County Democratic Party
  • San Diego County Republican Party
  • Climate Action Campaign

  • Against

Measure C's opponents say while Midway is not a beach neighborhood, it is a place many people drive through to get to the beach, and that increased development will make traffic through the area worse. They also argue exemptions to the coastal height limit should be voted on project-by-project, not across an entire neighborhood, so voters know exactly what projects they are enabling with their vote.

Opponents

  • Carolyn Chase, CEO of San Diego EarthWorks
  • Phillip Halpern, retired US attorney
  • John McNab, President, Save Our Access
  • Carl DeMaio, Chairman, Reform California
Watch the explainer

Learn more
Listen to KPBS Metro Reporter Andrew Bowen discuss Measure C, the Midway district height limit, on KPBS Midday Edition.

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Measure D — Project Labor Agreements

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What does it do?

Measure D would allow the City of San Diego to require Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for city funded construction projects. PLAs are favored by unions because they require the terms of project agreements to be negotiated with labor unions or employee groups prior to beginning work. A proposition, passed by San Diego voters in 2012, prohibited the city from requiring contractors to enter PLAs. Measure D, if approved, would overturn that law.

Why is it on the ballot?

Measure D was placed on the November ballot by a vote of the San Diego City Council, not through a collection of voter signatures. If approved, it would overturn Proposition A, which was called the “Fair and Open Competition in Construction Ordinance.” Proposition A banned the use of PLA’s for city construction projects, and it can only be overturned by another vote of the people. If Measure D is approved, it will take effect after the results of the November election are certified.

What are the arguments for and against?

  • For

Proponents of Measure D argue that project labor agreements require fair wages to be paid to workers involved with city projects. They also argue that San Diego is at risk of losing state funding by banning PLAs since a state law, passed in 2011, says that charter cities that ban PLAs for city projects will be denied state funding. The conflict between state and San Diego law, they say, puts San Diego at risk of losing future state funding of construction projects and increases the risk of litigation that will slow down city projects.

Supporters

  • San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom
  • Jesse Conner, President, San Diego Firefighters Association
  • Pat Zaharopoulos, President, SD Middle Class Taxpayers Association

  • Against

Opponents of Measure D say its backers are trying to influence the public with empty threats. Despite the seeming conflict between state and San Diego law, San Diego has not lost any state funding as a result of banning PLA’s for city construction projects. They add that the San Diego proposition, which banned PLA’s in construction projects, includes an exception that allows the use of project labor agreements when they are required, as a condition of the city receiving state or federal funds. Opponents also say allowing the use of PLA discriminates against a large percentage of the city’s construction workforce, which includes many underrepresented minorities.

Opponents

  • Charles Davis, Urban West Development
  • Abdur-Rahim Hameed, President, National Black Contractors Association
  • Al Abdallah, Chief Operation Officer, Urban League of San Diego County
  • Chis Cate, Councilmember, City of San Diego

Learn more
Listen to KPBS Science and Technology reporter Thomas Fudge discuss Measure D, city project labor agreements, on the San Diego News Now podcast.

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Measure H — Childcare use in city park space

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What does it do?

Measure H gives San Diego voters a chance to approve a change to the city’s charter that would allow the city to lease out parks and recreation centers to child care businesses.

Why is it on the ballot?

Currently, the charter only allows city properties to be used as parks, recreation centers and cemeteries. Measure H adds language to the charter that would allow childcare at recreation facilities and city-owned buildings.

What are the arguments for and against?

  • For

Supporters of the measure say it will help alleviate San Diego’s severe shortage of childcare providers because it will make it possible for the city to lease space to providers. Skyrocketing rents are among the reasons why providers have gone out of business in recent years. City leaders have identified 42 sites they say could be permitted for childcare.

Supporters

  • Chris Cate, San Diego City Council member
  • Vivian Moreno, San Diego City Council member
  • Jerry Sanders, president & CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Kim McDougal, vice-president, YMCA of San Diego County

  • Against

There is no organized opposition to the measure. Recently, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s editorial board endorsed a “no” vote on the measure because it “gives a single official vast power over extremely valuable parkland.”

Opponents

  • None
Related Articles:

Measures E, L, F, G, J, K, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, U

We teamed up with Voter's Edge California to offer in-depth information about what's on your ballot. You can explore all other local measures with this interactive guide!

Explore all national, state and local returns now.