Hotel tax hike measure fails to qualify for November ballot

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SAN DIEGO —┬áBackers of an initiative that would have raised San Diego’s hotel tax to fund a long-awaited expansion to the city’s bayfront convention center failed to collect enough valid signatures to earn a spot on the November ballot, the city clerk’s office announced Wednesday.

A random sampling of the campaign’s more than 114,000 signatures by the county Registrar of Voters fell short of the threshold of verified signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot. A signature-by-signature count will start immediately, but such a count typically takes 30 days to complete, and the deadline to place a measure on the ballot is Friday.

In order to salvage the measure, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he will ask the City Council to place the initiative on the ballot during a special meeting Thursday.

“San Diegans are demanding that action be taken to reduce homelessness, repair more roads and keep our economy growing,” he said. “While I am disappointed the citizens’ initiative to tackle these matters will not appear before voters this fall, I will not be deterred from making sure these urgent issues are addressed and will ask the City Council on Thursday to place a measure on the November ballot.”

That would likely raise the initiative’s required success threshold from a simple majority to two-thirds voter approval.

Overall, 71,646 valid signatures are needed to place a citizens initiative on the ballot. Initiative opponent City Councilman David Alvarez tweeted “colossal failure” on Wednesday morning in reference to signature- gathering efforts.

The proposed initiative would raise the city’s 12.5 percent hotel tax to 13.75 to 15.75 percent depending on the location of each hotel.

The 42-year tax increase was expected to generate $6.4 billion, including nearly $3.8 billion for the convention center.

An estimated $147 million would have gone to homelessness services and housing funding over the tax increase’s first five years. An additional $604 million would have gone to road repairs.

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