A new survey suggests there's strong support among San Diegans for an as-yet hypothetical measure to address the city's homelessness issue by increasing hotel taxes.
The study, conducted between May 31 and June 4 by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, a Los Angeles-based public policy research firm, found that if a special election were held in November, 70 percent of likely voters in the city would approve a two-percent hike to the transient occupancy tax paid by local hotel guests. A full 75 percent of voters
would approve same if a proposition were to be offered in November 2018 as regular elections, even midterms, tend to skew more liberal (and more likely to assent to tax increases) as more voters participate. Either result would surpass the two-thirds majority threshold to pass a new tax.
The results come in stark contrast to a proposal floated by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to increase hotel taxes by three percent to fund another convention center expansion, despite arguments that such facilities are already in excessive abundance across the country. When pitched on the idea with no background information, the 400 likely voters surveyed indicated only a 54-percent approval rate in the special election Faulconer is pushing for — the total jumps to 60 percent if the issue were delayed until 2018, but neither surpasses the two-thirds threshold.
Worse, after hearing simple pro/con arguments regarding the viability of the convention center, support drops to just 47 and 51 percent, respectively.
"San Diegans have their priorities straight," said homeless advocate Michael McConnell in a release from the pollsters. "Voters want to get our homeless neighbors off the streets, and allocate appropriate funding to do so."
Under the idea floated, the two-percent tax would raise up to $60 million annually until voters approve its cancellation. The full text of the survey question reads as follows:
City of San Diego Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness
To fund mental health, substance abuse treatment, health care, education, job training, rental subsidies, emergency and affordable housing, transportation, outreach, prevention, and supportive services for homeless children, families, foster youth, veterans, battered women, seniors, disabled individuals, and other homeless adults; shall voters authorize an ordinance to levy a two-percent transient occupancy tax, paid only by hotel/short-term rental guests, providing 60 million dollars annually until ended by voters, with independent annual audits and citizens’ oversight?