Expanding our Convention Center is critical to the economic growth in our region – it already provides $1.1 billion to our economy each year and could produce millions more for local businesses and neighborhood services. That’s why I supported the approved contiguous expansion in 2012 and still support it today. And it’s why, when the mayor first proposed an increase to the transit occupancy tax in his State of the City address, I was optimistic there was a funding plan that could combine the stakeholder support and revenue necessary to make the expansion a reality. I wasn’t alone in my optimism that night, nor was I alone in cautioning that the details would be critical to putting a viable proposal forward to voters. More than four months later, we still have a long way to go to get this right.
When the first concept of this proposal came before the City Council’s Rules Committee in April, I outlined a number of concerns that could undermine both the policy and political success of the measure. At that hearing, and in a subsequent memo to the mayor’s office with Councilwomen Barbara Bry and Georgette Gómez, I asked for:
• assurance that the land necessary for the expansion would actually be available
• substantiation for the proposal’s financial assumptions and projections
• potential recapture of elections costs to mitigate the budget impact
• protections against cost over-runs
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Why reward politicians who are not competent enough to get their sh** together in time for normal elections? Way to go Chris Ward for voting not to waste $5MM of your constituents money on a special election and SUCKER CITY theft of public land.
Mr. Ward: While I don't agree with aspects of your piece (especially regarding the need for convention center expansion), I greatly appreciate your well articulated point of view and your willingness to take the time to put it in printed form.
The public benefits resulting from a convention center expansion are dubious, as are the "cooked" numbers that justify it. While delaying the convention center ballot measure iin order to obtain more information is justified, a delay on a vote to raise funds to address homelessness is not. The increase in the homeless population and our lack of responding to it are shameful. Jurisdictions all over the state have passed bond measures related to this issue, but San Diego (which has the 4th largest homeless population in the country) is catatonic! Let's address the homeless problem aggressively, now!
@bgetzel --Instead of using the millions to hold a special election, why not put those dollars towards the homeless problem?
@David Crossley @bgetzel Actually, that is not a bad idea in the short run. The $5 million that would have been the cost of the election could, instead, be appropriated for homeless programs/projects in 2017 -2018. Then, in Nov. 2018, a bond measure that funds a long term strategy can be presented to voters in the general election.
Special election pro or con isn't the issue. We've been down this road before and expanded the convention center because it was going to generate so much more revenue for the city. Has the public ever seen the results of the previous expansion in clear historical numbers, before vs. after and how it's fared, year by year since the first expansion?
This "trust me" stuff gets old, because there are clear winners (restaurants, e.g. ) regardless how much the city makes off the deal, and the voters should be concerned with revenues that create funds for necessary city functions, i.e., land in the treasury.
Mr. Bradshaw: I agree. The mantra of the tourism industry seems to be, we need it, but we don't want to pay for it., so let's charge tourists. Never mind that the vast majority of tourists will never use the convention center. or benefit by it in any way. We (citizenry) seem to get little if any real information about the occupancy rates of the convention center or anything vaguely approaching objective evidence of need and cost-effectiveness. Meanwhile, there are innumerable studies indicating that convention centers are being overbuild and competing with each other with overcapacity.
@Chris Brewster That’s right.There is a huge glut of available convention space throughout the country, and the result you would expect if you believe in markets is that cities are literally giving the space away to conventions at prices way below those required to cover even operating costs, much less debt service and other expenses.Their hope is that, through more TOT revenue and sales tax collections they’ll make up the difference.Tough to demonstrate success, so they use ridiculous assumptions such as any hotel room occupied during a convention is occupied by conventioneers.
To make things even worse, several years ago the hotel industry seized control of convention scheduling from CONVIS, and the result is that, particularly with small/medium sized conventions, the larger hotels can cherry pick meetings and hold them in their own convention facilities, leaving the dregs for the convention center.
Why does stuff like this persist? Three of the biggest power bases politically in San Diego are hotels, restaurants/bars and real estate developers and builders. They have owned most of the politicians here for decades. For evidence, go to the city clerk’s web site, choose your favorite local politician and check his/her campaign contributions. But do it sitting down, it isn’t pretty.
When you look at the major corporate leadership in this city, it’s almost totally lacking. The big companies are headquartered elsewhere. We have Qualcomm, a few medium sized law firms, the universities and……Compare us with Seattle, a much smaller city, and find me a Starbucks, Nordstrom, Boeing, Costco, Microsoft, Whole Foods, etc. There aren’t any. Same story in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and lots of other places.. The result is that the hotels, bars/restaurants and developers have extraordinary clout here.
Personally I can imagine no reason ever to have a special election. Save the money and fix our infrastructure. If our infrastructure ever does not need fixing, I will be very, very surprised since it is usually the last priority of government instead of being where it should be - second behind security.
So my policy will continue to be to vote against any issue that ends up on a special election ballot regardless of its merits.
Now if the politicians want to pay for a special election out of their own pockets instead of relying on taxpayer money, that might be a different story. But that will never happen since most politicians use the public trough to finance their own wants and desires instead of doing what is best for the community as a whole.
@Bob Gardner agreed. infrastructure first.
Councilman Chris Ward speaks far more eloquently for the need for expansion of the Convention Center than he does the need for homeless services and affordable housing. Certainly one can support both ideas, but the crisis, for citizens, is in housing, not Convention Center usage.
( Link below details shortfall of 140,000 rental units for San Diego County)
Supporting the legislative relief in the CHPC action plan above will bring about job growth as well as livability. Once municipal bonds have been earmarked for these measures it wouldn't be elitist to call for Convention Center expansion as well.