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Convention Center Expansion, New Developments Fall Short in San Diego Elections

New City Tax That Would Have Funded Homeless Services Narrowly Misses Voter Approval

San Diego area voters made their voices heard on four ballot measures with considerable implications for regional development, with a long-sought-after convention center expansion and new services for the homeless both falling just short of the two-third majority needed for passage.

Voters on Tuesday also sent mixed signals on how to address the region's affordable-housing crisis, rejecting one developer's plans for a project that would have added more than 2,000 homes while turning down another measure that would have created potential new hurdles for future housing projects in rural areas.

On the same day, voters in the wealthy suburb of Del Mar rejected plans to put a new high-profile resort on a mostly pristine bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Here’s a rundown of Tuesday’s ballot results, with 100% of precinct votes counted but with results still to be certified later this week by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. Election officials reported there were were roughly 350,000 mail-in and drop-off ballots still to be counted across the region as of Wednesday morning, which could impact final vote counts in some contests.

Measure A

The appearance on the ballot of this measure and Measure B reflect longtime differences over how much housing and other development should be in San Diego County’s traditionally rural northern communities. By a margin of 51% to 49%, voters narrowly rejected Measure A, put forward by opponents of higher-density development in primarily rural areas north of the city. The vote count was 241,880 against the measure versus 232,427 in favor.

Measure A would have required future voter approval of any increases in density standards that increased allowable housing in a given project by at least six units above current zoning standards. It was supported by several conservation groups,

neighborhood residents and others who want housing placed closer to urban job centers rather than rural areas where they could create traffic and environmental problems.

Measure A was opposed by developers, housing advocates, city officials and others who oppose placing more roadblocks in the way of boosting the region’s already crisis-level shortage of affordable housing.

Measure B

By a margin of 58% to 42%, voters rejected developer Newland Real Estate Group’s plans for a 2,135-home development called Newland Sierra on unincorporated land near the North County city of Escondido. The developer and its supporters had also sought approval for county general plan changes to allow for 81,000 square feet of retail, 36 acres of parks and 1,200 acres of open space as part of the Newland project.

The vote tally was 278,053 against Measure B and 198,458 in favor. Public reports indicate more than $11 million was spent campaigning for and against Measure B, the most of any San Diego regional item on the March 3 ballot.

Measure C

Supporters apparently fell just short of the two-thirds approval needed to pass a hike in the city's hotel tax, which would have funded a proposed expansion of the convention center, new services for the homeless and repairs to the city's streets. Measure C's yes voters accounted for 63.5% of Tuesday's total, just shy of the 66.6% required for new taxes targeting new city projects and programs. The vote tally was 127,431 in favor and 73,087, or 36.5%, against.

The hotel tax hike would have raised the 10.5% room tax currently paid by the city's hotel visitors between 1.25% and 3.25%, depending on a hotel's proximity to the downtown convention center. The new tax money generated from visitors was expected to have raised up to $850 million over the next 40 years to pay off bonds for an expansion of the convention center intended to keep it competitive to attract and retain big economic generators like the 50-year-old Comic-Con International.

The same measure also sought to finance up to $750 million in new services tackling a homelessness problem that is among the worst in the nation, along with $400 million for street repairs. It was backed by city and tourism officials, the local hotel industry and numerous regional economic development groups.

Some homeless-services advocates also backed the measure, while others said its financing benefits were tilted too sharply in favor of conventions over other civic priorities


Measure G

Voters in the northern, coastal city of Del Mar rejected developers' plans for a blufftop resort called Marisol by a margin of 58.3% to 41.7%. The vote count was 797 against and 570 in favor of the project.

The disputed project was proposed for a 17-acre site that hasn’t seen any significant development in almost a century. Residents of Del Mar, which has some of the San Diego region’s wealthiest households and priciest real estate, have long opposed major developments, especially those on pristine coastal land at a time of rising concerns about coastal erosion and other environmental impacts of development.

Encinitas-based developers Robert Green Co. and Zephyr, along with their supporters, gathered sufficient signatures to place before voters what would be a resort hotel with 65 guest rooms, 31 for-sale villas and 22 affordable housing units.

Plans also called for an on-site restaurant, public trails and restrooms. A city-commissioned report said the project would generate $4 million annually in hotel taxes. Developers contended the project would bring protected new public access to a site that is mostly fenced off from the general public and is empty except for one single-family home built years ago by the land’s prior owners.

Article via: By Joshua Ohl | CoStar Analytics

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