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San Diego’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has submitted his official request to the City Council that it consider putting a hotel-room tax increase on the ballot. The new money would fund an expansion of the Convention Center and set aside a little for homeless services and roads.
The mayor listed specific goals for the money he requests for roads and the Convention Center. Obviously the goal of the Convention Center is to expand the Convention Center. The goal of the streets part is to meet or exceed a certain conditions index for streets.
No goal is listed for the homeless services effort.
“Funding will support long-term regional efforts to address homelessness as well as immediate interventions for some of our most vulnerable homeless families…” the mayor’s request reads before listing some approaches it could fund.
The mayor also put it in writing that he wants the ballot measure to come up at a special election this November.
The increase to the hotel room tax would be 1 percent for the whole city of San Diego. Another 1 percent for hotels south of Highway 56 and north of Highway 54. And another 1 percent for hotels downtown. It would be on top of the city’s 10.5 percent hotel room tax along with the 2 percent tourism marketing levy.
It will be interesting to see if the City Council, led by Council President Myrtle Cole, seeks major modifications to the proposal. Also worth watching: The city doesn’t have control of the port lease needed for the preferred expansion. The people who do are still planning to build a hotel there. They’re growing concerned and recently sued the Convention Center Corp. seeking what they say are public records. They also sent a tough letter to the mayor.
It’s not clear what might happen if the tax is increased but the Convention Center building blocked.
• The organizers of the petition drive in favor of the SoccerCity development say they have more than enough signatures to make the City Council approve it or put it before voters. (NBC 7 San Diego)
And to think I worried we wouldn’t have any ballot measures to explain for another year at least. Yay!
— Scott Lewis
Your (Neighbors?) Airbnb Is Fine
The new city attorney recently declared that Airbnb-style vacation rentals are illegal in San Diego based on her reading of local law. But the mayor has decided not to enforce that.
What’s happening instead? A potential revise of the rules that, under one interpretation, the city is choosing to ignore. Our Lisa Halverstadt has the story: “City planning department officials presented potential regulations at a Friday City Council committee hearing. City officials said they expect to bring regulations and enforcement proposals to the City Council in late summer or early fall.”
Rapid Bus Not So Boss
The city’s fairly new rapid bus system looks like it should be zipping around downtown and Mid-City neighborhoods, but VOSD contributing writer Alon Levy says it’s really on the slow side compared to similar systems since “it falls short of the standards for good bus service.”
What’s the problem? The system doesn’t do what you need to do to be quick.
Behind the Housing Crunch
A new report says California is the worst state in the nation for first-time home buyers. Our poor showing is due to a variety of reasons, including high costs and a tight housing market. “The typical rule of thumb is that you want your housing costs, inclusive of everything, to be 28% or less of your gross income, and that’s going to be a hard thing to find in a lot of places in California right now,” the analyst behind the report tells the L.A. Times. “In all 50 states the average was 19.4%, in California it was 35.2%.”
Why is the market so tight? Blame the rich and their wants, the analyst says: “I’ve seen a lot of research in recent years that the starter home that was kind of mainstay of the home-building market has sort of fallen out of favor, and they’re just building more homes at the top of the market for folks rolling over their equity from another home. They’re kind of leaving that bottom of the market unsupplied.”
California Dreaming of an Idaho Stop
The Reader is putting the local in local news: A headline the other day read — and I’m not making this up — “Kensington bicyclist ticketed for not stopping at Meade and 39th.”
The bicyclist explains: “If there are zero cars at the stop sign, I’m not going to stop because it takes a lot more power to stop, especially going uphill on Meade.”
She engaged in what’s known as an “Idaho stop” — when a bicyclist treats the “stop” in a stop sign as a suggestion, as if it were a yield sign. This is legal in Idaho, and new legislation aims to make it legal in California too.
While many (but not all) bicyclists like the idea, critics have a variety of arguments. One wrote a few years ago that they “essentially allow bikers to impose on pedestrians’ green lights and rights-of-way. Bikers would be prohibited from going if a pedestrian is in the intersection, but if a biker gets there first, a pedestrian would have to wait at the corner until the bike passes.”
Others are not just annoyed. A state senator in Colorado wants more enforcement of laws against cyclists. “Bare minimum,” he said, “I’d like to see some kind of immunity for vehicles that might hit the cyclists for doing something like this.”
• The U-T has a photo of the broken sidewalk that severely injured a cyclist in 2014 and will cost the city a $4.85 million settlement, one of the largest ever for an injury. An attorney for the man, who now can’t function without help, says the city doesn’t focus on fixing dangerous broken sidewalks first. This sidewalk, in fact, wasn’t fixed for six months after the crash.
The cyclist was legally riding on a residential sidewalk. An investigator accused him of going too fast.
• A bike lane across the Coronado Bridge could cost $200 million and the return of tolls for drivers. (U-T)
Quick News Hits: Parking Meters Are Watching You, Watching You
• RISE San Diego is fired up about our reporting on how San Diego Unified School District’s layoffs are particularly focused on schools in poor neighborhoods.
• A mother who visited another country has given birth in San Diego County to a child with birth defects from the Zika virus, health officials say. This is the first case of its kind in the county.
• The gatehouses at the Cabrillo Bridge entrance to Balboa Park — originally ticket booths — are looking pretty spiffy these days. That’s because they’ve been restored with the help of volunteers. (Times of S.D.)
• The Washington Post is losing it. It’s created a printable thing where you “color in your [baseball] team’s biggest difference maker.” For the Padres, it’s Wil Myers. Yes, his first name is lacking a letter (consonant shortage?). The Padres are missing something too this year: a chance.
The Post notes that the Pads haven’t made it to the postseason since the last Bush administration. “As bad as 2016 was, this year could be even worse, when it comes to wins and losses, but at least there appears to be a plan now.”
• Meter parking in Hillcrest soon won’t be free in the evening, 10News reports. They’ll charge parkers until 8 p.m. instead of the current 6 p.m.
In related news, passersby have spotted something unusual in a few Hillcrest parking meters: a camera looking straight at them.
News stories are a bit vague about their purpose, but it seems that they may be temporarily testing sensors that are supposed to figure out when cars leave so newcomers will have to pay instead of using leftover time.
Whatever the case, I may cover the cameras with a blanket if I need to parallel park nearby. Some deeply appalling sights just shouldn’t be preserved on film.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.