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Convention Center Tax, Vacation Rentals, Climate Plan Up Ahead For San Diego Politics In 2018

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks during a news conference about the city's NFL football team in San Diego, Jan. 13, 2016.
Associated Press
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks during a news conference about the city's NFL football team in San Diego, Jan. 13, 2016.
Convention Center Tax, Vacation Rentals, Climate Plan Up Ahead For San Diego Politics In 2018
Convention Center Tax, Vacation Rentals, Climate Plan Up Ahead For San Diego Politics In 2018 GUEST: Andrew Bowen, KPBS metro reporter

The city of San Diego is being grappling with climate change, vacation rentals and had a fun major projects. At the regional level the Association of government has had a very tumultuous year. Keeping an eye on these is Andrew Bowen. The convention center was big news at the beginning of the year and the mayor did try to get the tax increase to pay for the expansion of the convention center.This was announced in January of this year. The plan would've raised the occupancy taxes in the hotel room tax. He wanted this voted on in a special election this year. When it came to the budget process, the five Democrats in the city Council parked at the $5 million price tag of that special election. So the convention center has been a top priority for the mayor and the business community for years. So next year maybe November we should know whether or not you can get this done.Another issue the city Council could not reach a decision on vacation rentals this month.It's not good. We basically saw a 4-4 split on whether the regulations for short-term rentals should be more restrictive or permissive and one said no to both options. Is going to take more of a leadership role next year in determining what the city should do about this. We will see if that is something that he manages to accomplish.There was shakeups and who is in charge of some of those committees. How will that affect what policies the Council pushes next year?Some positions were changed from Republicans and Democrats. The most significant one is Gomez who represents City Heights and she's a progressive Democrat. She's taken over the chair position of the land use committee. They review a lot of housing policies. This could have but impact on how to address the housing shortage. She suggested lowering fees for affordable housing projects. She suggested putting more demands on developers for building affordable housing. Some policies can go down fairly easy and others will be a big fight.Climate action plan was a big one. What are the options that they have?The biggest decision is community choice energy. This is a program that would allow the city to take over purchasing energy from generators on behalf of residents and businesses. SDG&E would continue to operate the grid and build customers. They would not be buying energy. This would be the city control over how much green energy is in our portfolio. The mayor is putting together a business plan on how this could work. He's also conducting a review on a competing proposal by SDG&E . We will have a decision next year.Boosting public transit is always part of a meeting those goals. But it was down this year. What has the transportation system been doing to help stop the decline?They are changing the never bus routes next year and putting more resources test resources toward the productive bus routes. The hope is that this will make the system more efficient and turn around this trend of declining ridership that we've been seeing for several years. The plan that does use money from the gas tax increase that just went into effect in November and that gas tax increase may be in jeopardy. There are currently campaigns gathering signatures to repeal it. That could pose a threat to San Diego's efforts to ship people out of cars into buses and trains.There was also controversy at Sandag this year and the director step down as a result of revelations that they completely miscalculated how much tax money is being brought in. That is the money that funds all the new projects. Have they taken on any reforms to avoid such miscalculations?They did pass the plan of excellence and it involves more expert vetting of their revenue assumptions and all of these complex economic algorithms that spit out numbers based on a lot of different demographic factors. The leadership is confident that this will prevent another disaster like that in estimating that will get $18 billion instead of $14 billion. There was also a bill that passed in Sacramento called 80 05 and this will review whatever comes out from that office and also it changes the way that both are calculated. Bigger cities will have more voting power in terms of who gets how much money and what transportation dollars are spent on. The practical effect of this scandal is that were not going to see voters approving tax measures to fund transportation because this has lost a lot of credibility. One solution to that is that smaller agencies will be able to feel their own tax measures.What elections are you keeping an eye on for 2018.This is the first year next year that will have November runoffs. Their two Republican city council members who are incumbents and going to be facing November election. We will see if this anti-Trump turnout will have any effect on local politics. I think the biggest race to watch is a county supervises race that is district 4 and includes much of the city of San Diego. This district is more democratic than Republicans. So they are deafly gearing up for a big fight.Thank you for bringing us up today.

It has been a busy year for San Diego government, but 2018 is already shaping up to be just as packed.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposed tax increase to help pay for a Convention Center expansion and homeless funding got pushed to 2018. City Council could not reach a decision on vacation rentals, making next year the city’s next chance for a deal. The City Council will also weigh in on how the city should meet its Climate Action Plan goals. And there will be midterm elections in the fall.

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KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with a look ahead to 2018.