With special election rejected, what’s next?

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SAN DIEGO - Will voters in the City of San Diego get a chance to decide the fate of Qualcomm Stadium and the convention center?

Monday night the San Diego City Council approved a $3.6 billion budget for the 2018 fiscal year by a vote of 8-1.  That was after their vote stripped a $5 million special election from the budget.

Rendering of proposed Major League Soccer stadium. It would replace Qualcomm Stadium

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and four city council member support the special election in which voters would decide whether to move forward with the “SoccerCity” proposal for the Qualcomm Stadium site.  Voters would also decide on Faulconer’s plan to expand the convention center.

Delaying the public vote could threaten the SoccerCity group's application for a Major League Soccer expansion team, the developers said.

Now that council has rejected the funding of a special election, Mayor Faulconer has promised to use his line-item veto power.  That gives the mayor the right to remove or restore any line item in the budget.  In this case, Mayor Faulconer says he’ll restore funding for the special election.  He has until Tuesday to do so, but says the veto will come this week.

The council can override the mayor's veto with a super majority, six of nine votes.  Four of the city council members voiced strong support for the special election during Monday's meeting.  If that support remains, only five council members would vote to override the veto, one vote short.  Council President Myrtle Cole opposes the special election, and she will decide when the full council will consider Mayor Faulconer’s veto.

The city council already has a busy agenda ironically considering many of the issues members essentially rejected Monday night.  Monday the council will officially consider the special election.  At the same meeting, they’ll hear the official proposal for expanding the convention center with an extra tax on visitors who stay in San Diego hotels.  Then on June 19, the “SoccerCity” group makes its official pitch to the city council.


San Diego Convention Center Expansion Rendering

At either meeting, the council can decide to approve the proposals outright.  That’s unlikely to happen.  Council members can also decide to put the proposals on a ballot.  That could be set for a special election in November or next year’s primary or general election.

The call for a special election comes months after San Diego voters overwhelmingly approved Measure L, which requires major initiatives to be decided in November general elections.  The measure does allow the city council to intervene, putting measures on primary ballots and even special elections.  Still the purpose of Measure L was to provide a more inclusive democracy with higher voter turnout during general elections.

Delaying the public vote could threaten the SoccerCity group's application for a Major League Soccer expansion team, the developers said.