City Council to review proposals for November ballot measures

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SAN DIEGO — From taxing marijuana to raising money for firehouse construction, various proposals for November ballot measures in San Diego will be vetted for the first time by the City Council Monday.

The council members will decide whether to have the City Attorney conduct legal analysis and draft ballot language on the suggestions. Final decisions on whether to actually place the proposals on the general election ballot would come later.

Those that eventually go before voters would be in addition to 17 state propositions, plus maybe one on a stadium for the Chargers and another that would impact the future of tourism and set aside the Qualcomm Stadium site for educational and park use. The San Diego Association of Governments will also ask voters to increase the sales tax by a half-cent to pay for infrastructure projects.

Councilman Mark Kersey suggested imposing an 8 percent tax on gross receipts on businesses that sell marijuana, should state voters pass a recreational use legalization proposition this fall. He said at a committee meeting last month that cannabis sold for medical purposes would not be taxed under his plan.

Approval of the state proposition would create an unfunded mandate that would financially burden city government, according to the councilman.

“I do not want to divert money away from street repair or further stretch our public safety resources in order to manage an unorthodox legal framework that will be imposed on our city in November when it passes,” Kersey said.

The firehouse bond measure was proposed by Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who said it would generate $205 million to construct around 20 stations that were called for in a consultant’s report.

Emerald said the average homeowner would pay $5 for every $100,000 in assessed value. That’s around $25 a year, she said at a meeting in April, calling it “a real value for greater public safety going forward.”

She said the city is building a fire station every five years. At that rate, it would take nearly a century to complete the number currently needed. Funding from her bond measure would instead  allow the stations to be built in a decade.

Other measures that the council members will consider would amend the City Charter to:

— establish procedures for removing a wayward elected official from office, which were not available when scandal-plagued Bob Filner was mayor three years ago;

— list City Attorney qualifications and responsibilities;

— extend a section on use of Mission Bay leasehold revenue for 30 years and increase the portion that can be spent on upgrading other regional parks;

— require all ballot measures to go before voters in November general elections; and

— mandate that all races for city offices have a runoff in November, no matter whether the top vote-getter receives over 50 percent.

Supporters of the latter two said their proposal would have races and ballot measures decided by larger numbers of voters, since more people go to the polls in the fall than during primary elections.

Another ballot measure that will be considered would require public disclosure of city business conducted by employees on their personal electronic devices.

Two other measures that could go before voters this fall are already being drafted by the City Attorney’s Office. One would determine whether to let San Diego High School stay on Balboa Park land or have the property return to park use, and the other would introduce reforms to the Citizen’s Review Board on Police Practices.

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