The San Diego Convention Center / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The city is poised to soon argue in court that hotel-tax hike Measure C passed with a simple majority and tourism leaders are hoping an eventual win will pave the way for a Convention Center expansion.

But as Lisa Halverstadt writes, a court win for Measure C won’t guarantee – or mandate – a Convention Center expansion. The initiative gave the city an option not to proceed with an expansion or to 10 years delay taking steps to finance it for up to a decade, options that could be more appealing amid the uncertain post-pandemic future of the convention industry.

If city leaders don’t pursue an expansion, Halverstadt writes that Measure C could still pull in millions annually for homelessness, road repairs and other Convention Center projects. It also allows city leaders to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in upfront financing to address those causes.

The city attorney’s office has said it expects to get a trial court ruling within a year but that any appeal of that ruling could slow the process.

Mayor Todd Gloria says he will wait for a court ruling before proceeding with efforts to implement the tax, though his team will likely soon assess the viability of any expansion and the revenues the city might expect if the tax increase goes into effect.

Elo-Rivera: Trash the People’s Ordinance

City Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera wants to tip the sacred cow that is the People’s Ordinance.

Elo-Rivera broke the news during a Wednesday Voice of San Diego event that he plans to have a City Council committee he chairs review a century-old ordinance that has allowed most single-family homes in the city to avoid paying for trash pick-up while most multi-family units pay for private trash pick-up. Elo-Rivera said he hopes the environment committee will eye options including a ballot measure to address the equity and significant city budget implications of the so-called People’s Ordinance.

“I’m serious, this needs to go,” Elo-Rivera said.

Elo-Rivera told Halverstadt he hopes to pursue the issue later this year. Elo-Rivera’s shift follows years of calls for the city to repeal or amend the ordinance to address both equity issues and the tens of millions of dollars it costs the city annually.

Now, with the costs poised to increase along with new state mandates, Elo-Rivera said the ordinance needs to be reconsidered.

The People’s Ordinance was one of many city budget topics covered during a VOSD event with Elo-Rivera, City Councilman Chris Cate, Kyra Greene of the Center on Policy Initiatives and Michael Zucchet of the Municipal Employees Association. You can watch the full video of the discussion here.

Learning Curve: Schools Begin to Tackle COVID-19 Trauma

As students return to classrooms, teachers and administrators are beginning to grapple with the mental health affects kids have accumulated in the last year.

Leticia Enriquez, for instance, a social worker in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, recently led an online workshop for educators, in which she shared her own tragedy: her grandfather died of the virus on Christmas Day.

The point, she said, is that pretending everything is normal isn’t silence. Kids will hear the message it sends loud and clear.

“It may say that we’re unaware, that we’re unconcerned or that we’re unable or unwilling to be of assistance,” she said. One possible alternative: With all the money that’s flooded into schools from COVID-19 relief funds, districts could hire far more counselors.

News Roundup

  • Gloria is set to soon begin negotiations with San Diego Gas & Electric on a new electric and gas franchise agreement following the latest bidding process, which resulted in a single bid from SDG&E, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • Times of San Diego broke the news that the San Diego County Democratic Party voted to oppose the recall of City Council President Jen Campbell.
  • All students, faculty and staff at University of California and California State University campuses will be required to get COVID-19 vaccines this fall, the Associated Press reports.
  • inewsource zeroed in on the Loveland Reservoir near Alpine, one of the few free fishing programs in the county and a site that could become unavailable in the wake of a consultant’s suggestion to further drain the reservoir.
  • A new report tracking San Diego’s homeless-serving system found the number of people who fell into homelessness more than doubled last year, the Union-Tribune reports. 
  • Gloria announced Thursday that the city will kick off a pilot program to power the city’s municipal electric vehicle fleet with solar, City News Service reports. 
  • The Union-Tribune broke the news that San Diego Grand Central, the plan to connect transit with the airport through a massive new hub for the region’s bus and train system at the Old Town NAVWAR facility, paid for with a dense urban development on site, has taken another step forward. SANDAG, the regional planning agency leading the project, has issued a public notice that will start its process of studying the environmental effects of the project. The whole project could cost up to $4 billion, and could be a central component of a 2022 or 2024 tax measure for regional transportation needs.

Correction: This post has been updated to more accurately describe the People’s Ordinance. The city picks up trash without a special fee for most single-family homes. Most multi-family units must pay fees to private haulers to come take their trash.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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