Tourism officials issue pink slips amid legal battle

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Tourism Authority confirmed Thursday it issued 85 layoff notices this week as a result of the Tourism Marketing District’s funding dispute with Mayor Bob Filner.

sd-moneyThe authority – formerly known as Convention and Visitors Bureau – said it might have to close by May 13 if the issue isn’t resolved.

Filner refused to sign off on an agreement to release administrative funds to the TMD because he wants higher pay for hotel workers and more money for public safety, among other things.

Tourism officials said the TMD has been unable to launch a $5.4 million advertising campaign because of the hang-up with the mayor.

Separately, the city of San Diego will be dismissed as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the city’s TMD against Filner, according to a settlement agreement released Thursday.

The TMD was renewed by the City Council last fall, but ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders was unable to sign all the necessary documents before he left office in December. Filner, his successor, refused to sign the contract to provide funding.

In exchange for the TMD dismissing the city as a defendant and waiving its rights to recover legal costs from the city, the City Council acknowledges that the mayor is obliged to sign the deal under the City Charter, according to the settlement released by council President Todd Gloria.

He said the City Council agreed to the settlement on Tuesday in closed session.

“This agreement demonstrates the City Council’s belief in the tremendous benefit and value of the Tourism Marketing District,” Gloria said. “We want the TMD to continue operating. I hope the entire matter is quickly resolved so the TMD can go back to publicizing our destination, and we can focus on other priority matters.”

Tourism officials said the TMD has been unable to launch a $5.4 million advertising campaign because of the hang-up with the mayor.

The TMD receives 2 percent of hotel room bills, on top of the city’s 10.5 percent room tax, and uses the money to advertise San Diego as a vacation destination. The collection works out to around $30 million annually.

 

The court hearing regarding the TMD funding lawsuit will take place on March 22, a judge ruled Tuesday.