Mayor Filner Signs Tourism Marketing Agreement
Mayor Bob Filner signed an agreement with San Diego's Tourism Marketing District today. The City Council then unanimously approved a measure directing Filner to execute the amended agreement.
The council delayed a decision on the agreement last week because Filner and the TMD disagreed over the extent to which the area's biggest hotels should protect the city from risk. Three lawsuits filed against the city say a 2 percent fee on hotel rooms to fund the tourism district's marketing is illegal because it amounts to a tax, which must be approved by a public vote. If the courts agree, San Diego could have to refund money it paid to the tourism district.
The agreement signed by Filner today says each hotel's monetary obligation should be limited to "the dollar amount of the TMD assessment paid by that indemnifying hotel" for 12 months. It also says each hotel's obligation will only be triggered after the city's TMD fund is exhausted and says the city can save $2.3 million in hotel assessments for legal defense costs.
Last week, Filner had wanted hotels to protect the city from any risk associated with the lawsuits, but the hotels had agreed only to be liable for the money they give to the marketing district.
Filner vetoed the pact last week after a deal on amendments with the tourism agency's board fell through.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said he had not seen the new agreement until immediately before today's City Council meeting. But, he told councilmembers he trusts TMD's lawyers and is willing to sign off on the deal.
The tourism funds will not be released until Filner signs the original agreement. He hasn’t done that yet. But his staff told the City Council his signature on the amendment should be a sign of good faith that he will also sign the original. Filner's staff said he’ll sign the original when he returns from Mexico in three days.