In addition to boosting our tourism economy, the TOT for “Jobs, Streets and People” measure would generate $150 million for road repairs and $150 million to reduce homelessness – in year one alone.
SAN DIEGO (May 30, 2017) — A poll of San Diego voters shows there is strong support for a ballot measure to modernize and expand the convention center, while also funding road repairs and homelessness programs.
The poll, conducted in March 2017, found two-thirds of those likely to vote in a special election would support the plan to raise the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) – the visitor tax that overnight guests pay in San Diego – by up to 3 percent to upgrade and expand the convention center, fix our streets, reduce homelessness and bring more jobs to San Diego.
The San Diego Convention Center. Photo by Gage Skidmore
As far as priorities go, street repairs and reducing homelessness lead the way among voters. Eighty-seven percent believe repairing city streets is a very or extremely important local issue, according to the poll. Eighty-one percent feel the same way about reducing homelessness.
The research also indicates that the measure benefits when voters:
1. Understand the importance of the convention center on our economy.
2. Learn about the events San Diego is losing to cities with larger and more modern convention centers.
3. Hear that hotel owners strongly support the measure because it will help grow San Diego’s tourism economy.
“We have strong messages in favor of the measure,” said John Nienstedt, owner of Competitive Edge Research, which conducted the poll. “The Convention Center’s value to our economy is a very salient point for voters, especially when you list the conventions we’ve lost and stand to lose if we don’t expand. The idea that tourism leaders would tax themselves and say, ‘It’s ok. This is not going to hurt tourism.’ Those are important points that help build support.”
The analysis (see memo) is based on the results from the poll of 392 San Diego City voters conducted by Competitive Edge between February 27 and March 4, 2017. The voter turnout model is 42%.
“We feel very good about the polls results,” said Mike McDowell, CEO of the San Diego Lodging Industry Association. “San Diegans are supportive because this plan solves a lot of problems. We’re missing out on hundreds of events each year and millions in TOT revenue, and we know this measure would create nearly 7,000 permanent jobs and provide dedicated funding to fix our roads and reduce homelessness.”
The City is losing $25 to $42 million a year because of our outdated and undersized convention center, according to a April 2017 analysis by HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Consulting. The convention center turns away nearly 500 events a year and we’re losing 2.75 million hotel room nights.
In addition to boosting our tourism economy, the TOT for “Jobs, Streets and People” measure would generate $150 million for road repairs and $150 million to reduce homelessness – in year one alone – if the city elects to bond against the new visitor tax revenues. The best part is, San Diegans wouldn’t pay for any of it. Visitors would.
An economic engine for the entire region, the convention center has a disproportionately large impact on the local economy. Meetings and conventions account for only 6 percent of all visitors to San Diego, yet they represent a staggering 27 percent of all tourism spending.
Tourism is the city’s third largest source of revenue. The visitor industry employs 184,000 San Diegans - 13% of the jobs in the county. Visitors spend nearly $10.4 billion annually at San Diego businesses and produce hundreds of million in tax revenues each year.