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San Diego City Council to meet about convention center ruling

SDCCEx-feb2013-bayside1

San Diego City Council will meet this afternoon in a closed session to discuss whether to appeal a recent California appeals court ruling that cripples the funding plan for the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

According to City News Service, council members don’t necessarily have to reach a decision today — although City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told them earlier this month that they have until Sept. 10 to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of California. Before any action is taken, however, an open session will be held to allow the public to offer input.

A three-judge panel ruled Aug. 1 that a hotel tax approved two years ago by hoteliers and city council to fund much of the convention center expansion — viewed as crucial to keeping Comic-Con International in San Diego beyond 2016 — is unconstitutional, and must be put to a citywide vote. The financing plan, which would have added another 1 cent to 3 cents per dollar to room taxes of 224 hotels, was expected to generate about $35 million annually.

Several groups, including San Diegans for Open Government, opposed the funding scheme, arguing that the arrangement amounted to privatizing the city’s taxing authority. A Superior Court judge sided with the city in March 2013, but opponents appealed the ruling.

Now it’s up to the city to decide whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court, come up with alternative financing, or put the current plan to a vote. Whichever route the city takes is expected to push the expansion’s opening from the hoped-for 2018 to 2020.

The convention center proposal would add 740,000 square feet of exhibit space, a five-acre rooftop park, a waterfront promenade with retail shops and restaurants, and a second, 500-room tower to the adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.

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One Comment

Douglas J. Crawford

September 4, 2014 at 12:44 am

CA Supreme Court Justice Richardson stated in a dissent over forty years ago, in substance, that crafty legislators would attempt to circumvent the requirement of placing a property tax increase before the voters for approval by surreptitious means and, herein, is a prime example. The entire scheme was drafted for the sole purpose of avoiding voter approval and assigned to corrupt Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Prager for rubber-stamping. “But-for” my running against corrupt Judge Prager in the 2014 election, reciting this ruling as evidence of his corruption, the scheme would have been upheld on appeal and nothing further would have come from it. My open challenge to Judge Prager’s integrity as to this specific case placed the Appellate Court in the untenable position of either: (1) affirming faulty legal analysis or; (2) standing up for the law, thereby, exhibiting integrity. While one may view my run for judicial election as a loss, I view it as a victory because corrupt Judge Prager’s most visible, pertinent ruling was completely rebuked and openly mocked. Douglas “Dirty Doug” Crawford

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