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.
By Tommy Hough
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action recently sent a letter to all 160-plus members of the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee to present our club's concerns and case against the current SANDAG ballot proposal on the November ballot (Measure A), and ask that the committee take a NO position and vote against a county party endorsement of the measure.
August 17, 2016
Dear Central Committee Member,
As you're aware, you'll have an opportunity to vote on a county party endorsement of the SANDAG tax increase ballot measure at the upcoming San Diego Democratic County Central Committee meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
At our July 13 meeting, San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action held a forum on the SANDAG tax increase ballot measure. Both sides of the measure were in attendance to present their case before club members and to take questions. Following a debate among club members, the club voted by a 2-1 margin to oppose the measure, and we have since joined with the San Diego Quality of Life Coalition in opposition to it.
The coalition includes IBEW Local 569, HVAC Local 230, the Climate Action Campaign, National Nurses United, Sierra Club San Diego, San Diego 350.org, the San Diego Chapter of the League of Conservation Voters, the San Diego County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and a number of other area organizations.
Our members opted to oppose the measure for a variety of reasons, including:
In two years, communities will have the opportunity to "go back to the drawing board" with voters in much the same manner Governor Brown is planning to do so in order to codify the state's climate-related executive orders. Cities in the county also have the option of utilizing a different approach than SANDAG — including using MTS, which covers more urban areas.
In a plan where there are no line-items, we as a club want to support the best policy — and the right policy. At this time, notwithstanding the laudable volume of work put into the measure and the benefits it may bring to some county residents, the SANDAG plan remains something San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action members oppose by a 2-1 margin.
We ask that you consider your support for the measure, and entertain a "no" vote against the tax increase ballot measure this Tuesday evening.
Thank you for your consideration.
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host and media personality, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant and communications professional, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.