The state Court of Appeal this week denied rehearing petitions from multiple players arguing over whether a 2020 San Diego hotel-tax measure passed – and whether the appellate court should reconsider a recent ruling declaring that the initiative passed.
Refresher: In 2020, 65 percent of city voters backed Measure C, which aimed to fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road repairs. The city and Measure C proponents later argued the initiative passed with a simple majority rather than the traditional two-thirds majority following a series of state appeals court rulings that concluded citizen-led tax measures only need majority support. A handful of groups stepped up to challenge the city’s conclusion.
The case went to the Court of Appeal, which ruled recently that the measure did pass.
Remember, there was also a catch: In addition to declaring that the initiative passed, the appellate court had ordered the case back to San Diego Superior Court to hash out an outstanding issue over a Convention Center Corp. board member’s dual involvement in the campaign and the city agency – and whether that should change the conclusion that Measure C is a citizens initiative.
The news: The city, the Measure C campaign committee, Alliance San Diego, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California Taxpayers Action Network, former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and the Project for Open Government each urged the Court of Appeal to rehear the case.
The parties had differing arguments. For example, the city and the Measure C committee argued a return to Superior Court was unnecessary while Alliance San Diego challenged multiple conclusions in the ruling.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal denied all of those petitions.
In short, the measure passed. But the city still has to prove at the Superior Court level that a government official wasn’t too involved in shaping the initiative, which would make it not a citizens initiative and thus not something that can be passed with a bare majority of voter approval.
What’s next: Representatives for City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office, Alliance San Diego and the campaign committee said they’re mulling their next steps. Others didn’t respond to messages from Voice of San Diego. The parties could petition the state Supreme Court for a hearing or simply return to Superior Court. An attorney for the Measure C committee said they have until Sept. 20 to make a decision.
California Senators Request Emergency Funds for Border Sewage Fix
Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein earlier this week urged two key U.S. Senate leaders to deploy $310 million in federal emergency funds to address the border sewage crisis that has only worsened in recent years.
The Union-Tribune reports that the $310 million would be in addition to the $300 million previously set aside to bolster the capacity at the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant, which Voice of San Diego revealed needs dire repairs. The U-T reports that the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the ask this month.
The latest emergency call: The county, California’s state and Congressional delegation and the League of California Cities’ San Diego County Division have been raising alarm. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked President Joe Biden and Congress to immediately unleash the $300 million for treatment plant fixes. But Newsom didn’t declare an emergency. If he had, that would help fast-track more money from the federal government to throw at the problem.
The Surfrider Foundation, Stop the Sewage and Emerald Keepers are set to hold a beach protest rally this afternoon at Central Beach Coronado.
Mayors Say They’re Doing a Lot on Homelessness
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria has repeatedly argued that other cities in the county need to step up their homelessness response. KPBS’s Midday Edition invited Chula Vista Mayor John McCann, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez to respond. Spoiler alert: These mayors argued they’re doing quite a bit to address homelessness.
Related: KPBS Midday host Jade Hindmon asked McCann about Voice’s recent reporting that less than a third of Chula Vista’s new tiny home village shelter was occupied two months after its already delayed opening. McCann said the facility still isn’t full and that he hopes it will be by the end of the year. The city and the mayor have also said supply chain issues contributed to the lower occupancy numbers.
“We literally just opened it, and just like you’re opening a restaurant or you’re opening another store, it’s a soft opening and so we are slowly bringing people in,” McCann said.
In Other News
- The Union-Tribune reports that county and city officials hope to move forward with an $8 million county-backed plan to revamp an abandoned former Mira Mesa music venue and teen center into a community center serving teens.
- City News Service reports that the city of San Diego is set to receive $45 million in state grant funds to back more than 1,180 housing units in San Ysidro and downtown. (City News Service)
- Weeks after the Grossmont Union High School district board voted to cancel its longtime contract with San Diego Youth Services amid concerns about services provided to LGBTQ students, NBC 7 reports that the board voted to expand another contract to offer mental health services despite testimony from parents and students.
- The Union-Tribune broke the news that Mayor Todd Gloria’s team wants to pursue a 405-unit affordable housing project on a downtown plot once eyed for a luxury hotel. (Warning: This one’s only for U-T subscribers.)
- CBS 8 reports that the region’s planning agency is gathering feedback as it explores whether to move train tracks underground to address longtime challenges with tracks now on Del Mar bluffs.
The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, MacKenzie Elmer and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.