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New Proposal: Huge Hike in TOT Tax to Improve Infrastructure

Activists Katheryn Rhodes and Conrad Hartsell will present to the city council's rules committee Wednesday a plan to boost the Transient Occupancy Tax (hotel tax) from 10.5% to 15.5%. The increase would provide $73.5 million annually to spend on road repairs, regional parks, coastal projects, and restoration of public tidelands. Part of the package would be approval of a desalination plant and cistern. Also included would be a privately-funded professional football stadium and contiguous convention center expansion. If the private funding for the stadium and convention center expansion does not come through, the full increase will go to infrastructure. (My notation: private funding of the stadium, anyway, ain't gonna happen.)

Rhodes and Hartsell note that the purpose of the Transient Occupancy Tax is "to advance the City's economic health by promoting the City of San Diego as a visitor destination in the national and international marketplace, supporting programs that increase hotel occupancy and attract industry, resulting in the generation of [Transient Occupancy Tax] and other revenue, developing, enhancing, and maintaining visitor-related facilities, and supporting the City's cultural amenities and natural attractions." Cleaning up the City's sorry infrastructure would fall within those parameters, they believe.

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Activists Katheryn Rhodes and Conrad Hartsell will present to the city council's rules committee Wednesday a plan to boost the Transient Occupancy Tax (hotel tax) from 10.5% to 15.5%. The increase would provide $73.5 million annually to spend on road repairs, regional parks, coastal projects, and restoration of public tidelands. Part of the package would be approval of a desalination plant and cistern. Also included would be a privately-funded professional football stadium and contiguous convention center expansion. If the private funding for the stadium and convention center expansion does not come through, the full increase will go to infrastructure. (My notation: private funding of the stadium, anyway, ain't gonna happen.)

Rhodes and Hartsell note that the purpose of the Transient Occupancy Tax is "to advance the City's economic health by promoting the City of San Diego as a visitor destination in the national and international marketplace, supporting programs that increase hotel occupancy and attract industry, resulting in the generation of [Transient Occupancy Tax] and other revenue, developing, enhancing, and maintaining visitor-related facilities, and supporting the City's cultural amenities and natural attractions." Cleaning up the City's sorry infrastructure would fall within those parameters, they believe.

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If 5,000,000 or so a year of that was used for Balboa Park, we could:

  1. Eliminate surface traffic and parking in the 2 main Plazas,

  2. Build an underground garage under the existing Plaza de Panama [the "Lewis Plan"],

  3. Guarentee that parking in the Park would remain FREE to the Public as it has been for 97 years,

  4. Provide easy access from the North via Quince Street,

  5. Close the Cabrillo Bridge to automobile traffic permanently and make it a grand pedestrian promonade, and

  6. Save the Cabrillo Bridge from the awful "by Pass" bridge proposed by Team Jacobs, and maintain the historical integrity and beauty of the Park for the next 100 years.

June 8, 2012

Good ideas. Not sure $5 million a year would be sufficient. I agree that the historical integrity and beauty of Balboa Park must be preserved. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2012

Thanks so much Don !

5,000,000 or so per year would pay down a lot of construction bonds. $40,000,000 - $60,000,000 easily.That is a very rough figure obviously.

But this way the enhancement of the Park could go forward in the best way possible.

I have heard so many--including the "Planning Commission" yesterday, say the Jacobs Plan has major flaws, and they do not like the By Pass Bridge, but "someone else is paying, so we need to take their money now."

The beauty and historical integrity of the Park should not be sacrificed because of checkbook planning by anyone, including Dr. Jacobs and his very well-paid lobbyists and lawyers. When did you last see an act of "philanthropy" that required hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent on lobbyists to overcome resistance by the public ?

Adding insult to injury, the Chairman of the San Diego Planning Commission at the public hearing summation on 7 June referred to the classic and beloved buildings of Balboa Park five different times as "that pile of buildings on the hill."

The Commission's unanamous approval of the Jacobs Plan, strong armed by the Mayor who appointed all of them to the Commission, shows the same total disrespect for the history, integrity and beauty of the Park buildings, including Cabrillo Bridge.

That "pile of buildings on the hill" is a very special pile. Clearly it must be defended from the lack of respect and knowledge demonstrated by the members of the Planning Commission yesterday.

June 8, 2012

San Diego is run by real estate developers. That's particularly true under Mayor Sanders. The last mayor NOT run by developers was Maureen O'Connor. Do you expect developers to respect history, integrity and beauty? Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2012

The problem in San Diego is the large number of apartment dwellers who contribute little if anything to the city coffers. An owner of a single family residence can pay $5,000 per year or more in property taxes while a renter pays less than $300 per year in property taxes indirectly through rent. The city should enact an apartment dwellers tax of $500 per year per apartment unit. Landlords would collect the tax from the tenants (a portion of the tax would be included in each rent payment) and remit the taxes to the city monthly. Conrad Prebys owns 7,000 apartment units in San Diego. A $500 per unit tax on Conrad's tenants would generate $35,000,000 in additional tax revenue per year. An apartment dwellers tax would go a long way toward reimbursing the cost of providing police and fire protection to apartment dwellers. As it stands now, apartment dwellers are essentially receiving these services for free.

June 8, 2012

San Diego has a higher percentage of renters, and lower percentage of buyers, than other comparable cities. So there is a pot of gold there waiting to be raided. But would voters approve such a tax? Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2012

Jacobs owns San Diego and he will build what he pleases. It will take a ballot initiative to prevent Jacobs from raping Balboa Park. Once Carl "Momo" DeMaio is elected Mayor, he is going to start planning his next move. He will probably run for the Senate or Governor. DeMaio has only been in San Diego six years. He doesn't give a crap about Balboa Park. He wants Jacobs' money and political support for his future campaigns.

June 8, 2012

DeMaio is vulnerable. His fellow councilmembers know why. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2012

No, No, No a thousand times No. I travel for a living. Like the airlines, the hotels rely on business travellers for a large chunk of their income. Such a tax on hotel stays would be the highest I've seen, and I've been in hotels in all 50 states. Business travellers don't use the amenities these taxes supposedly improve. Our hotel tax is fair, in comparison to other cities. Let's keep it that way.

June 9, 2012

Our current hotel tax is low, particularly compared with other California coastal cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2012

www.tinyurl.com/20120606a

Please see the wording to our proposed ballot language. San Diego has a low TOT Rate of 10.5 percent.

Currently San Diego has a 10.5 percent TOT plus a 2 percent Tourist Marketing District, for an existing effective Hotel Tax Rate of 12.5 percent. The 2 percent TMD expires on December 31, 2012. Also the City Council approved a Special Tax for the Convention Center Expansion of up to 3 percent, for an already planned total 15.5 Hotel Tax Rate.

Without a ballot proposal to increase the TOT Taxpayers and Convis will be without the planned $74 million they have already budgeting for next year. And San Diego Taxpayers will be leaving money on the table that the tourist industry has pre-approved they can handle.

June 9, 2012

The big question is whether a higher TOT tax will deter tourism. That is a concern, of course, but the biggest concern, in my opinion, is that the extremely weak or recessionary economy beginning in 2013 could slow the travel industry. As I have shown in previous columns, convention attendance in the U.S. has been declining for years. The convention center expansion is folly. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2012

Without a ballot proposal to increase the TOT Taxpayers and Convis will be without the planned $74 million they have already budgeting for next year.

=========

Convis should be eliminated. The $74 million budget should be re-routed to repair streets and sewer lines. I see no evidence whatever that Convis generates tourist dollars. Funding Convis is like flushing money down the toilet.

June 9, 2012

Hi Burwell. Agreed. But without a Ballot proposition in November for a 5 percent increase in our TOT, the $74 million for the soon to be expired 2 percent TMD, and the planned new 3 percent Special Tax will not be collected starting January 1 , 2013. And San Diego citizens will leave money on the table that could have been collected and dispersed by our City Council to increase our quality of life. All due to a lack of critical thinking and lack of Leadership.

June 10, 2012

A jump in the tax from 10.5% to 15.5% might scare off some voters in November, even if the proceeds went to the rotting infrastructure. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2012

Without question, money has to be diverted from several bureaucracies to repair of the infrastructure. CCDC should be abolished as redevelopment is reformed and downtown is forced to stop hogging all the money. Duties of Convis should be scaled back and folded into some other area of government. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2012

I am sorry-I cannot support any TOT hike, especially a 50% bump, not when the pensions scam is still in full force and effect.

June 11, 2012

Even if the money is used for the scrofulous infrastructure? Best, Don Bauder

June 11, 2012

Hi SurfPuppy619.

The ballot language specifically does not allow the TOT increase to be used to subsidize Pensions or be put into the City's General fund.

June 11, 2012

That's true, but I think SurfPup is saying that he won't support a TOT hike with the pension deficit still a disgrace. I don't believe he meant to say that TOT money would go into pensions. Best, Don Bauder

June 11, 2012
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