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In response to Point Loman, who wrote:

I’m still having a hard time understanding how the hotel and visitor industry can justify its opposition to the TOT increase just a couple years ago, using the argument that it would make us less competitive with like cities, and now want to increase the TOT, but only when it has complete control of that increase. So what you all are saying is an increase in TOT will NOT make us less competitive? And if so, then why don’t we go back to the ballot initiative that helps the city as a whole, rather than just the tourism industry? Tourists use our streets, our water, our parks, our police and fire services, just like everyone else, no? Shouldn’t they participate in those costs?

Many thanks to Point Loman for your comments regarding past measures aimed at raising the transient occupancy tax (TOT) in the city of San Diego, and the impact of visitors on the city’s budget.

San Diego’s visitor industry strongly supported Proposition C on the March 2004 ballot in the city of San Diego. This measure, which would have provided increased funding for emergency services, roads, parks and tourism promotion, was supported by a broad coalition. Unfortunately, the proposition required two thirds approval of the electorate.  Though it received 62 percent of the vote, a landslide in a race for elective office, it fell just short of the 66.7 percent required.

Concerning visitors’ paying their fair share and more of city services utilized, indeed they do. By fiscal year end (June 30), the city of San Diego alone is projected to collect approximately $150 million in TOT, with much of these funds remaining in the general fund to cover city services of primary benefit to San Diegans. 

On a related note, the most recent assessment (2002) of the “Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Tourism on the city of San Diego,” Commissioned by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and conducted by CIC Research, shows that tourism provides a significant net gain to the city of San Diego. The 2002 study showed that visitors to San Diego in fiscal year 2002 generated a total of $134.7 million in revenue (taxes and fees) for the city. Providing city services to San Diego visitors during fiscal year 2002 resulted in approximately $58 million in general fund fiscal expenditures. Thus, visitors to San Diego generated an overall city fiscal benefit of approximately $76 million for fiscal year 2002, according to the Taxpayers Association study.

DAVID PECKINPAUGH

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