San Diego hoteliers overwhelmingly passed a tax increase to finance the proposed Convention Center expansion, the city announced Tuesday, setting up a showdown over the legality of a private group’s ability to pass a tax to fund a major public project.

Check out U-T San Diego for the news of the day and reaction from expansion backer Mayor Jerry Sanders and opponents of the plan.

We’ve covered the twists and turns of this deal in detail. Here’s a suggested reading list to get you caught up on what’s at stake.

Why Not a Public Vote?

Short answer: Backers were worried a public vote might fail.

The Legality of the Deal

Short answer: No one really knows.

Hoteliers’ Leverage Over the Whole Deal

Short answer: They got more control over Convention Center operations.

The Secrecy that Shrouded the Election Until We Successfully Pushed for Greater Openness

Short answer: Big hotel companies had a bigger influence.

The next step comes in early May when the City Council is expected to sign off on the tax increase approved Tuesday and the expansion’s entire financing plan.

The current proposal relies on $35.7 million a year, eventually, for the next 30 years from the hotel-room tax increase, $3.5 million a year for the next 30 years from the city’s day-to-day operating budget and $3 million a year for the next 20 years from the Unified Port of San Diego.

But the bigger drama will play out in a court room.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith plans to take the hotel-room tax increase to court to find out if it’s legal. It’s unclear how long that will take, particularly since organized labor groups are opposing the deal on legal grounds. And even if successful in court, the expansion still faces major state regulatory hurdles before anyone can stick a shovel in the ground.

We’ll have more on the Convention Center expansion before the next council vote.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. 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 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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