Candidates Spar Over Convention Center Expansion
San Diego’s City Council recently voted to switch convention marketing duties from the public Convention Center board to the private Convention and Visitors Bureau. Critics of the move say it was only done to ensure city hoteliers would vote to increase their room taxes to pay for an expansion of the facility.
Councilman Carl DeMaio voted for the switch. He defended the decision not put the center's third construction project to a public vote.
“Well the last two convention center expansions involved public money through the TOT, the transient occupancy tax,” he said. “Under my Convention Center expansion proposal, the hoteliers will have to take the responsibility for financing the expansion.”
But Congressman Bob Filner criticized DeMaio’s assertion that public money would not be used to pay for the expansion.
“How can you call the vote on the transient occupancy tax not taxpayer funded?” Filner asked in a direct challenge to DeMaio. “It is a public tax and you’ve given the right to vote on that to a private group.”
Hoteliers are currently voting on whether to raise their room taxes. The City Attorney’s office has said it will ask a judge to assess the validity of the funding plan if the hoteliers approve the tax increase.