Eva Knott 1:52 p.m., Nov. 18
Chula Vista council votes with hoteliers to scrap Tourism Marketing District
Chula Vista city council voted October 23 to disband the Tourism Marketing District. A grand jury report released on the subject in June suggests funds were mismanaged.
The Chula Vista city council voted October 24 to disestablish the Tourism Marketing District. The action was prompted by a petition of 53% of the city's hoteliers requesting the district be dissolved.
In December 2008 Supervisor Greg Cox gave the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce $25,000 from his discretionary community project funds to start up a Tourism Marketing District. The district was established in July 2009 and was charged with promoting hotel/motel business. Since then the city of Chula Vista has been collecting a 12 1/2% tax from hotel guests. Ten percent going to the city as Transient Occupancy Tax, and the other 2.5 % to the Tourism Marketing District.
Questions about the effectiveness of the Tourism Marketing District were raised earlier in the year by council members Steve Castaneda and Patricia Aguilar. In June 2012, a San Diego County Grand Jury report was released on this subject.
The Grand Jury investigated the relationship of the TMD and the city of Chula Vista regarding possible misuse of funds. Initially, the district was operated by the chamber of commerce.
The report shows that from "its formation in July 2009 through June 30, June 30, 2011, TMD income from the [hotel/motel] assessment was $693,487." During that period, the Tourism Marketing District spent $489,331 for staff expenses and only $69,345 on marketing.
The grand jury report also found that, although a representative from the Hotel Motel Association said Chula Vista's primary tourist markets are Los Angeles, Arizona and Nevada the hotels and motels had been promoted in two local publications--The Star News and My Hometown Chula Vista.
The chamber of commerce made a presentation on October 24 about changes, some already in effect, that would make the Tourism Marketing District stronger. However, council member Castaneda, said "Change has happened, but not fast enough." Castaneda also said it was necessary to take direction from the hoteliers, otherwise the council would be indicating that "When democracy doesn't serve our interests we don't follow it."
Council members Castaneda, Aguilar and Rudy Ramirez voted to disband the market. Mayor Cheryl Cox and council member Pamela Bensoussan voted against the dissolution.