In what has been a tumultuous road towards gaining a major expansion to its convention center, San Diego was given a glimmer of hope for the plan’s survival after a California Supreme Court judge tossed out a lower court’s ruling that the financing plan for the center was unconstitutional.
City officials have been trying to press the issue of expansion for several years, citing rising competition from other expanded venues around the country and the fact that Comic-Con, the city’s largest event, has well outgrown the size of the current facility. Hoteliers and city officials originally agreed to a plan that would raise hotel taxes to fund the project, calling the decision a special “zone” vote that did not require widespread resident approval. Watchdogs cried foul and filed suit, also challenging that certain impact studies had not been fully accomplished prior to the city’s adoption of the plan.
Three years ago, the plan was expected to cost $520 million, though a figure for today that has been adjusted for inflation has not been released. However, city officials said recently that they are prepared to ask taxpayers citywide for their blessing to implement a hotel tax increase from 12.5 percent to 16 percent in order to proceed with the project. With the judge’s ruling, it is unclear whether the city must ask all San Diego taxpayers, but leaders have suggested they intend to and tacked funding for the homeless and money for street repair to the measure to bolster the likelihood of its success.