Apr 7, 2017
Ready or not, a special election is on its way in November. On the ballot will be Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed hotel tax hike to fund a Convention Center expansion, and help pay for road repairs and projects or services to alleviate San Diego's homelessness crisis.
The bulk of the money raised through the tax hike would go toward the estimated $650 million bay-front expansion of the Convention Center.
Gil Cabrera, vice chair of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, joined the podcast this week to make the case for why voters should care about the size of the facility. He told hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts that a bigger Convention Center means more money for the city.
Cabrera said the center has a huge economic impact, but because of its current size can't host two big conventions concurrently, which means lost revenue.
"As more and more of these high-value conventions drop off the rotation for San Diego, you're going to have a full center that makes less money and that's the fear if we keep it where it is today," he said.
Plus, he said, since the money would be pulled from the hotel tax, tourists would be paying for the expansion while residents would reap the financial rewards (if that sounds familiar, it's because the Chargers used the same argument when they tried to get voters to build them a new downtown stadium).
Cabrera also addressed some questions about the plan, including the issue with a plot of land called Fifth Avenue Landing that's currently leased by two businessmen whose plans don't include a Convention Center expansion.
Keatts and Lewis also dug into the mayor's lack of a plan for how, exactly, the city will spend the new tax money on homelessness. Right now, there is no real plan, but the mayor's office is pushing that as a plus, not a minus, since it will allow for flexibility.
East Village is in the middle of a historic building boom. Keatts is currently living in East Village and he said with the cranes in the sky, the construction holes in the ground and the homeless encampments covering the sidewalks, it's truly a surreal moment for a neighborhood undergoing such rapid change.
Also on the podcast, Lewis and Keatts talk about how the 2018 election field is already starting to take shape and the two give a status update on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher's bill to reform SANDAG, the regional transportation agency embroiled in financial issues revealed by Voice of San Diego.
The winner this week is the therapy dog that wouldn't drink out of a water bowl at the shared campus of Emerson-Bandini Elementary School and the San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2 in Mountain View. The dog's hesitancy resulted in the discovery of dangerous lead in the water.
FieldTurf USA gets the goat this week for its turf sports fields. The products they've sold to San Diego schools keep falling apart.