Key city and campaign officials are eager for an appeal following a Superior Court judge’s ruling this week opposing the city’s push to move forward with a 2020 hotel-tax measure it argues passed with a simple majority.
Our Lisa Halverstadt reports on Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Medel’s ruling panning actions the City Council took to delay certification of the spring 2020 ballot measure and to later officially declare that Measure C had passed with 65 percent of the vote, shy of the historically required two-thirds vote for taxes for a specific purpose.
Reminder: Measure C is a hotel-tax measure aiming to fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road repairs.
Interestingly, Medel did not offer his opinion on whether citizen initiatives should pass with a lower threshold, a legal debate that has played out statewide since a 2017 Supreme Court ruling suggesting citizen measures might only need a majority vote to pass. State appellate courts have since declared that a handful of citizen initiatives intending to raise taxes in Fresno and San Francisco passed with a simple majority.
Advocacy group Alliance San Diego, which argued in court that the city sought to disregard voters’ will, cheered this week’s ruling. Andrea Guerrero, the group’s executive director, said she hoped it might persuade the city and Measure C proponents to abandon legal arguments that the measure passed.
But Mayor Todd Gloria, City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office and the campaign behind the hotel-tax measure said they hope to move their fight to the Court of Appeal.
“This ruling is an unfortunate delay, but we are undeterred in seeking the court’s validation of Measure C,” Gloria wrote in a statement.
Before a city-led appeal proceeds, the City Council will need to formally sign off. A City Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said the city or the Yes! For a Better San Diego campaign will have 30 days to file a notice of appeal after Medel’s final judgment is issued.
Lemon Grove Council Member Accused of Using Racial Slur
Lemon Grove’s City Council is becoming engulfed in a fight with one of its own council members — and the fight has devolved into racist name-calling.
At a meeting Tuesday night, Racquel Vazquez, the city’s Black mayor, said Liana LeBaron, a councilwoman, recently called her a “baboon.” LeBaron claims she said the council was “acting like a bunch of fucking buffoons,” as one Lemon Grove resident pointed out on Twitter.
The council stopped short of officially censuring LeBaron, as the Union-Tribune reported.
LeBaron has been at the center of controversy on the council for months. Multiple complaints have been filed against her and she has filed complaints against the city attorney and manager.
LeBaron is unaffiliated, but sits on a council controlled by Democrats. Statements posted to her Facebook page indicate she sees herself as a maverick. She has openly criticized the salary of the City Manager and called for fiscal audits of the city, saying that some employees have misrepresented Lemon Grove’s finances.
In Other News
- Joel Day, a candidate for San Diego City Council, looks to other cities and countries for meaningful policies to end homelessness, including publicly-owned or financed housing. Read his op-ed here.
- San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria will comply with a subpoena to testify in a taxpayer lawsuit over a downtown high rise that remains vacant due to asbestos and other issues. The city did not conduct an independent assessment of the building’s condition upfront and agreed to pay more than it had been appraised for. Gloria previously said he and other members of the City Council were “deceived” by “bad actors” when they agreed to the deal. (Union-Tribune)
- Assemblyman Chris Ward is proposing a 25 percent tax on the gains of home sales within three years to discourage short-term investors from flipping homes for profit. (CBS 8)
- A $3.5 billion project that would replace Seaport Village and downtown’s broader Central Embarcadero district with hotels, attractions and office space is still a long way from approval. Despite more than five years of edits, the U-T notes, Port Commissioners questioned the size and overall feasibility of the development.
This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx. It was edited by Megan Wood.