Over the past decade, efforts to increase the city of San Diego’s taxes on visitors have had a winding history. Mike McDowell has been at the center of all of them.
Now as hotel-room taxes are targeted to pay the majority of a proposed $550 million Convention Center expansion, McDowell remains one of the most important players in the debate.
McDowell heads a local hotel industry trade group that formed in the wake of efforts to boost hotel-room taxes a decade ago. In 2004, he supported a failed ballot measure that would have increased the tax rate, with some of the money guaranteed for tourism promotion. The same year, he helped kill a ballot measure that would have given new money to the city’s day-to-day operating budget. Later, he authored a successful plan for visitors to pay an extra 2 percent on their hotel bills, with all the money going to tourism and marketing.