San Diego City Hall. Photo credit: Alexander Nguyen

The City Council is scheduled Monday to take up two initiatives that have qualified for the ballot — the Chargers’ plan to build a downtown stadium and another that will direct the future of tourism funding in San Diego.

Council President Sherri Lightner scheduled a meeting for 1 p.m. to discuss the measures, both of which gained enough signatures to force the panel to take action.

Normally, when an initiative qualifies, the City Council must decide whether to adopt the provisions themselves or place the issue before voters.

In this case, council members’ hands are all but tied. Because both the Chargers and tourism plans seek to raise San Diego’s hotel room tax, the public has to make the decision via an election.

The levy on hotel guests is currently 10.5 percent, plus a 2 percent fee for tourism promotion.

The Chargers’ plan would raise the tax to 16.5 percent, effectively a hike of 4 percentage points. The extra revenue, along with contributions by the team and National Football League, would fund construction of a stadium and convention center annex in the East Village, near Petco Park.

The tourism proposal, backed by former Councilwoman Donna Frye and lawyer Cory Briggs, would increase the levy to 15.5 percent. It would also prohibit a waterfront expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and encourage San Diego State University and UC San Diego to build a research center on the Qualcomm Stadium site.

The Citizens Plan for San Diego also would require voter approval of any public funds that would be spent on building a downtown stadium for the Chargers, and support the creation of parkland along the San Diego River.

In April, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith issued a scathing opinion of the Citizens Plan, contending that the initiative is flawed and would subject the city to “significant risk.” He said he won’t, however, recommend keeping it off the November ballot.

In an email to City News Service, Goldsmith said courts normally defer legal challenges to initiatives until after an election.

“This respects the direct democracy process and involves the courts only if the measure passes,” Goldsmith said.

Briggs has previously said Goldsmith’s opinion of the initiative is incorrect.

–City News Service

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