A homeless woman sleeps on the sidewalk in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A San Diego City Council committee Wednesday advanced a proposal to earmark some hotel tax proceeds for programs for the homeless.

The plan put forth by Councilman David Alvarez calls for earmarking 1 cent of every 10.5 cents collected in transient occupancy tax for homelessness prevention and housing programs. The proposed City Charter amendment was sent by the City Council’s Rules Committee to the Budget Committee for further review on a 3-2 vote, with Mark Kersey and Chris Cate voting against advancing the plan.

If approved by the council, voters would consider the plan on the June or November ballot.

The transient occupancy tax applies to those who stay in hotels, motels, vacation rentals or campgrounds for less than one month. The rate is 10.5 percent for smaller lodging facilities and 12.5 percent for larger ones.

Alvarez unveiled the proposal the day after a citizen’s group launched a signature-gathering campaign in hopes of qualifying a ballot measure that would increase the visitor tax by 1.25 percent for lodging facilities on the periphery of the city and 3.25 percent for those located in the downtown area. That money would be used to expand the downtown convention center, repair roads and address homelessness.

Alvarez said his idea would allow the council, and not outside interests, to address homelessness with a ballot question. His proposal would fund only homelessness programs, he pointed out.

–City News Service

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