IVN News

San Diego’s Signature Move: Initiative Season Begins In Earnest

Tired of being asked to sign on the dotted line at your local grocery store for a special interest project?

Well, brace yourself, because voters in the city and county of San Diego are about to be inundated in January and February with more signature requests.

Here are some of the massive projects to likely go before voters, and therefore need your signature:

  • Convention Center expansion/TOT increase (City)
  • Full Voter Participation Act (County)
  • SDSU West continues signature push (City)

Convention Center Expansion

The official kickoff for the measure to expand the Convention Center, address homelessness, and repair roads was held today.

Targeted for the November ballot, the Convention Center TOT would raise $6.4 billion over 40 years. We’re told the dollars will be divvied up among the expansion project, homelessness initiatives, and road repairs.

$685 million would go for the Convention Center expansion, proponents say $2 billion would be set aside for homeless services and permanent housing, and approximately $600 million would be spent on repairing roads

The hotel tax, now at 12.5 percent (including a 2 percent tourism marketing surcharge), would be raised by 1.25 to 3.25 percentage points, depending on how close hotels are to the downtown convention center.

the City Attorney's Office had no role whatsoever in drafting the measure.
Gerry Braun, City Attorney Chief of Staff

Sources close to the process told IVN labor union representatives met with representatives in the City Attorney’s office to go over language for the measure. City Attorney Chief of Staff Gerry Braun told IVN the City Attorney’s office had no input in crafting the measure. Braun told IVN, “the City Attorney’s Office had no role whatsoever in drafting the measure.” He continued, “The campaign offered to give us the same high-level briefing that they were giving to other elected officials. We accepted. Mike McDowell gave the presentation. Jaymie Bradford and Murtaza Baxamusa were present, Tom Lemmon arrived late. It was a 30-minute meeting. Our Office did not advise this group, and it does not advise citizen groups. From what I understood, the initiative language was fully written and vetted.”

The unions along with hotel owners, business leaders, and homeless advocates appear to be in support of the measure.

For homeless advocates, the measure reportedly states that during the first five years, about $140 million will go to addressing the city’s growing homeless population.

More than 71,600 valid signatures will be needed to qualify the measure for what is becoming a very crowded November ballot.

Full Voter Participation Act

As first reported on IVN, the effort to reform San Diego County elections and align them with the City of San Diego and the State of California is underway.

The Full Voter Participation Act has been crafted to mirror Measure K, an initiative drafted by the Independent Voter Project in 2016 to end an “election law loophole” whereby candidates can win an election in the primary instead of the general election.

City of San Diego voters passed Measure K with nearly 60% of the vote last year.

Now, proponents of the Full Voter Participation Act are collecting signatures to qualify for the 2018 November election.

The initiative would modify the procedure for write-in candidates to allow the Registrar of Voter to appropriately prepare the ballot.

First, it would require that all county candidates for office, which are county supervisor, district attorney, sheriff, assessor-recorder-county clerk, treasurer-tax collector and County Board of Education, be elected at the November general election, not the June primary.

Second, if just two candidates are on the ballot, the June election would be eliminated and the election would be held during the November general election.

Initiative proponents say it’s a move that would save taxpayer dollars.

Third, the initiative would modify the procedure for write-in candidates to allow the county registrar to appropriately prepare the ballot.

State law holds that write-in candidates can submit papers to run for office 14 days before an election. AB 901 would push that deadline to 67 days for San Diego County, allowing the registrar enough time to adjust the ballot accordingly.

To this point, the initiative’s title and summary prepared by County Counsel notes:

“This initiative would require the County to adopt local election rules requiring write-in candidates to file nomination papers before the deadline to print ballots for the Primary Election; which is currently 67 days prior to that election. The initiative would narrow the nomination period for write-in candidates from 43 days to approximately 10 to 15 days.”

SDSU West Fumbles to the Finish Line

The process of collecting enough valid signatures for the SDSU West plan has been a little bumpy.

On December 29, 2017, organizers issued statements to the media that they had collected more than the necessary 71,646 valid signatures to put the measure before voters in November 2018.

If that is true then the question needs to be asked, why are signature gatherers still camped out at grocery stores and other locations trying to collect signatures for SDSU West?

Proponents of the plan say they will “officially” turn in the signatures sometime this week.

Stay tuned.