By Tommy Hough
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action members voted overwhelmingly at our July meeting to endorse the Citizens' Plan for San Diego, and we're happy to report the Citizens' Plan has now received the endorsement of the San Diego County Democratic Party.
The Citizens' Plan offers a large-scale roadmap for managing various capital projects proposed for the city of San Diego, and ensures greater tax revenue for the city from a higher Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) that goes straight into the general fund.
One of the components of the Citizens' Plan is the potential expansion of the San Diego Convention Center in a non-contiguous manner away from the water, meaning the city would be able to undertake a convention center expansion that would support the facility's civic goals without robbing the city of its waterfront – or without gobbling up the remaining waterfront in the area.
As Californians, this should be a familiar practice. Whether in Humboldt or Mendocino counties or along the Central Coast where there is significant beach access, San Diegans shouldn't have to be a convention center vendor, visitor or attendee in order to enjoy the waterfront of San Diego Bay anywhere along its length.
Of particular interest to San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action is the plan's proposed re-purposing of the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley for parklands and an educational center, all along the banks of the long-neglected San Diego River.
This is really an opportunity for San Diego to create another showcase public space on the level of Balboa Park, and a space that embraces components of our region's natural heritage along the San Diego River. How marvelous it would be for the city of San Diego to have such a place in Mission Valey as another "anchor" park in our regional park system – and to do so at the moment when development is reaching critical mass in Mission Valley and the San Diego River floodplain.
Perhaps most importantly, the Citizens' Plan calls for a more than reasonable – and frankly, overdue – increase in hotel taxes in order to help achieve these goals. These are changes which are not coming soon enough at the city government level, and the Citizens' Plan offers an avenue to do so by way of a highly pragmatic, logical plan that has won a number of allies – now including the San Diego County Democratic Party.
That's good news for San Diego. We hope you'll vote to support the Citizens' Plan when it appears on the ballot in November.
A former San Diego broadcaster and media personality, Tommy Hough is a wilderness and conservation advocate, communications professional, California Democratic Party delegate, and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.