San Diego Convention Center
The San Diego Convention Center on the waterfront downtown. Courtesy of the convention center

The San Diego City council voted to fight in court to secure Measure C funding for expansion of the downtown convention center, homeless services and road repairs.

The measure to raise the tax paid by hotel visitors was approved by 65% of voters in 2020. That’s less than the two-thirds majority needed for most new taxes, but a series of California court rulings have found that citizens initiatives require only a simple majority.

Despite those rulings, however, a Superior Court judge in San Diego recently concluded that the city erred in how it handled Measure C in the first place.

Mayor Todd Gloria welcomed the council’s decision on Tuesday, saying after the meeting that approval of the measure was “the will of the voters” even if short of a two-thirds majority.

“A substantial majority of San Diego residents supported Measure C to create a dedicated funding stream to address homelessness, grow our local economy and fix our streets — priorities shared across city leadership and in every community throughout our city,” Gloria said. “This appeal will affirm the passage of Measure C so we can fulfill the will of the voters and get to work addressing our city’s top challenges.”

The council voted 6-3 in a closed session to proceed with the appeal. Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and Councilmembers Monica Montgomery Steppe and Vivian Moreno voted against an appeal.

Moreno has said that since the original ballot materials stated passage of Measure C required a two-thirds vote, the city should be bound by that.

The tax increase envisioned by the measure would only be paid by hotel and other lodging visitors under the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax.

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