Tax Measure Rejected in March Could Still Pass in San Diego

Tax Measure Rejected in March Could Still Pass in San Diego

Created: 20 October, 2020
Last update: 14 August, 2022

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday discussed the option of filing a lawsuit that would allow the passage of Measure C — a special tax measure that would increase lodging taxes — despite it failing to receive a two-thirds majority vote in the March primary.

Measure C asked that a tax be levied on overnight lodging guests between the range of 1.25% and 3.25% with revenue going toward the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. Under the California Constitution, special tax measures require a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass. The measure received 65.2% of “yes” votes, a hair less than the two-thirds needed.

No action was taken at Tuesday's closed session meeting, but in an April City Council meeting following the primary election, elected officials certified all results but removed language that acknowledged the defeat of Measure C.

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Proponents of the measure said the City Council couldn’t certify the vote as there’s debate on how many votes are needed for a special tax measure to pass. Proponents argue that lower courts within the 1st Appellate District only require a majority vote, whereas the lower courts in the 5th Appellate District require a two-thirds vote. The distinction is being argued in a handful of cases in California with legal experts agreeing that this will be appealed to the California Supreme Court.

City Council members told IVN San Diego they are prohibited from discussing closed session items. Their views, however, were previously shared during the April 2020 meeting. At that time, Councilmembers Barbara Bry, Vivian Moreno and Monica Montgomery voted against removing language related to the ballot measure, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The debate is also alive in the court of public opinion. Three people called in to speak about the issue during the public comment portion of the City Council meeting today.

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, a nonprofit which opposed the ballot measure, asked the City Council to uphold the vote.

“Election integrity matters and it’s protected by law,” Guerrero said. “To change the rules after the fact it would be inappropriate and likely illegal. Do not be complicit in this fraud.”

Marshall Anderson, vice president of government affairs for the Downtown San Diego Partnership, an organization which advocates for the downtown neighborhood, urged council members to “explore the potential of litigation” as the Convention Center needs to be “modernized and expanded.”

Michael McConnell asked Council members to uphold the Measure C vote, saying, “People would’ve, could’ve and should’ve acted differently if they knew it was a 50% threshold. Do not waste more money on a frivolous and fraudulent escapade. Please stand up for voters for once.”

Here’s what some San Diegans have said on Twitter about the issue:

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Hoa is an award-winning journalist and editor. She's also a mother and yoga instructor but hasn't won any awards in those areas yet.