An expanded Convention Center looks like a good deal for the three mega hotels along the waterfront. They stand to bring in an extra $273 million in the complex’s first six years, and without any risk.

A new report says the increased taxes on the visitors won’t impact business to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Marriott Marquis Hotel & Marina and the Hilton Bayfront at all. 

At the same time, the public’s contribution is growing, with signs that it will continue to rise.

The new figures cut to the heart of the expansion’s debate.

“Backers, led by Mayor Jerry Sanders, argue that those benefitting from the Convention Center’s growth should pay,” writes Liam Dillon. “And while some groups that benefit will pay, they’re moving to cap their costs. Meanwhile, city taxpayers are facing escalating costs and risk.”

• Sanders now has one year left in his administration, and he says he has four priorities before he departs: revamp Balboa Park, expand the Convention Center, strike a deal for a new Chargers stadium and balance the budget.

“People see the opportunity now where perhaps in the past it wasn’t a great time because we were really wrestling with huge (financial) issues just keeping the city afloat,” Sanders told the Union-Tribune. “So this is an opportunity now to get those things done so we can start out fresh in the future.”

The mayor appears ready to declare victory over the budget deficits that have long dogged City Hall, although he still has another $30 million to carve out of his last budget, and dedicate the rest of his term to big projects.

There has been little discussion about trying to restore the services that have been lost slowly over the city’s financial decline.

• A new professional football stadium, meanwhile, hasn’t been built in California for a generation, one reality hanging over Sanders’ desire to get the Chargers a new home. That’s why stadium watchers here have been closely monitoring efforts in the Bay Area.

The 49ers took one step toward breaking that slump, hammering out the outlines of a new deal with Santa Clara that would use $40 million in public redevelopment money and another $35 million in hotel-room taxes. “The city will take on more than twice as much debt as was promised to voters, even though the 49ers vow they won’t leave the city holding the bag,” the San Jose Mercury News reports.

A New Post-Bubble Low

• San Diego’s home prices have hit a new post-bubble low, writes Rich Toscano. When adjusted for inflation, they’ve dropped 47 percent from the bubble’s zenith.

• A 60 Minutes investigation that aired last night into the lack of prosecutions in the wake of the bubble heavily featured University of San Diego law professor Frank Partnoy, who offered a sort of expert disbelief in the Justice Department’s inaction. He’s become the show’s go-to guy for Wall Street tales.

The Arts Consumer of the Future

Meet today’s arts consumer: overwhelmed with advertisements, protective of her time and even more protective of her wallet. “Out with the silvering season-ticketholders and in with the Groupon subscribers,” writes Roxana Popescu in our final piece on how social marketing is altering the arts landscape.

“Together, the deeply discounted, short-term internet sales are changing the timing, context and way in which audiences and arts organizations connect,” she writes. “[T]heir pitch is the same: We’ll raise awareness about your venue and introduce connected, tech savvy people to your art. We don’t promise to fill your coffers, just your auditorium or gallery. What you do to turn those last-minute bargain hunters into full-price ticket holders is up to you.”

• If developers of the Navy Pier get their way, there will be a massive piece of public art on the waterfront and you won’t need a ticket to see it. Whether the “Wings” will be worth the price of admission is another thing.

Our Kelly Bennett has been following the lively debate over the work, and talked about it on KPBS’ Midday Roundtable on Friday. You can give it a listen here.

Searching for Rules in the Medical Marijuana Odyssey

A group of medical marijuana advocates are proposing a set of rules to govern collectives that it hopes to put before city of San Diego voters. Collectives have been operating in a world of gray areas, from conflicts between federal and state law to a lack of clarity in city regulations.

The new rules wouldn’t do anything about that federal clash, but would tax storefront dispensaries and set up rules about where they can operate in the city.

Get caught up with all this melodrama with our San Diego Explained.

A Journalism Icon in Tijuana

The difference between being a journalist in a place like Tijuana and a place like San Diego can be so vast that they should almost be considered totally different occupations.

That’s highlighted in the story of Zeta, a crusading Tijuana newspaper known for its investigations into drug cartels. Its public face, the 43-year-old Adela Navarro Bello, has become an internationally recognized journalist. This fall she won the “Courage in Journalism” award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, and her life and love story are the focus of a Union-Tribune profile.

Zeta has a pretty good motto for a publication, too: “Free like the wind.”

I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at or 619.325.0526.

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