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San Diego’s hoteliers have come up with grand plans to tax visitors to pay for expanding the city’s Convention Center and to fund citywide marketing efforts — both without public votes. Two other powerful interest groups, the Chargers and labor unions, have cried foul.

The Chargers want the money for a new stadium. The hotel workers union thinks it would be better spent on regular city services.

The hotel workers union continued to question the legality of hoteliers’ plans. Monday afternoon, the union’s attorneys noted their objection to the Convention Center expansion financing plan in a letter to the City Council:

Tourism is a critical pillar of our local economy and a thriving visitor industry is in everyone’s interest, more so for hotel workers. Likewise, the Convention Center is an important public asset and economic engine that currently provides good paying jobs. However, it is unfair and certainly bad policy, to expect that allowing powerful hoteliers to raise taxes on the public for their own benefit will somehow “trickle” down to the rest of San Diego’s residents.

The letter mirrors one union attorneys wrote last month criticizing an extension of the tourism-promotion charge that adds 2 percent to most visitors’ hotel bills.

The effort by the city and hoteliers to finance the Convention Center expansion without a public vote is in new legal territory. So it’s not surprising groups are raising challenges. But backers of the expansion believe their plans are less risky than a vote, which would require a two-thirds majority of the public to pass.

The council is scheduled to discuss the Convention Center expansion Tuesday morning. Here’s a primer on the current plans to pay for the $550 million project.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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