Results Of room tax election to be Made official money would be used for convention center expansion

 

The results of an election held by hoteliers on whether to charge an additional room tax to raise money for expansion of the San Diego Convention Center are scheduled to be made official by the City Council Monday.The plan pushed by Mayor Jerry Sanders passed by an overwhelming margin.The money raised by the levy is projected to pay for most of the more than $500 million cost of making the facility bigger.

Supporters of the plan say more meeting space is critical to attracting large national meetings and keeping the ones currently held in San Diego, like Comic-Con International.

Council members will also be asked to direct the City Attorney’s Office to have the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP file what is called a “validation lawsuit.” The city would seek a judge’s determination on whether the funding plan is legal.

According to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, the plan’s legal foundation rests on shaky ground. In California, the funding mechanism has only been used in San Jose, and that plan had some differences, he said.

State law calls for two-thirds approval of residents in the affected area — in an election — before a tax increase can be enacted. The city would argue that the hoteliers were the affected parties in this case, and 92 percent voted “yes.”

Under the plan, the room tax assessment will increase by 3 percent for downtown hotels — the ones most likely to benefit from expansion of the convention center.

Mission Bay and Mission Valley hotels would see a 2 percent increase, and more outlying facilities would have theirs go up by 1 percent.

An assessment of the project’s water needs and amendments to consultant agreements for the center are also on today’s agenda.