Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks at the kickoff for the ballot initiative. Courtesy Yes! For a Better San Diego campaign

A coalition of community, business and union leaders has begun the campaign for a ballot measure that would increase the hotel tax to aid the homeless, repair streets and expand the convention center.

Nearly 100 supporters gathered near the convention center on Thursday to kick off the campaign for the Yes! For a Better San Diego initiative.

The measure would increase the tax charged hotel visitors by 1.25 to 3.25 percentage points, depending on proximity to downtown. The tax is currently 12.5 percent for hotels with 70 rooms or more.

Through 2060, the hotel tax increase would raise $2 billion to aid the homeless, $3.8 billion to expand and maintain the San Diego Convention Center, and $604 million for city road repairs.

Supporters include Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Rep. Scott Peters, Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Father Joe Carroll, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, major local business groups, the San Diego Tourism Authority, and local building trades and other unions.

“Yes! For a Better San Diego will finally create the dedicated funding source needed to truly help the San Diegans suffering homelessness in our neighborhoods — including women, families and veterans — and bring an end to this crisis,” said Deacon Jim Vargas of Father Joe’s Villages.

To protect taxpayers, the measure provides for a citizens oversight committee and requires regularly updated five-year spending plans.

Qualifying signatures were submitted in July 2018, but the measure did not make it to the November ballot in time because a signature-by-signature count was required. Now it’s on the ballot for the March 3 presidential primary.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.