San Diegans launch citizens initiative to expand convention center, repair roads & dedicate unprecedented funding to alleviate homelessness

Diverse Coalition of Business, Tourism and Labor Leaders join Homeless and Community Advocates to Address Urgent Local Challenges

Laura Fink for Yes! For A Better San Diego
Cell: (619) 273-3465

SAN DIEGO (January 8, 2018) – Business, tourism industry and labor union leaders joined homelessness and community advocates on Monday to launch a citizens initiative confronting some of San Diego’s most pressing local problems.

Citing the convention center’s inadequate size as a barrier to growing the tourism economy, a homelessness crisis that has left thousands sleeping on the streets and San Diego’s crumbling infrastructure, proponents aim to address these challenges together. The initiative raises revenue to modernize and expand the convention center to drive economic growth and jobs, as well as significant funding to alleviate homelessness and repair roads.

If passed, it would bring more than $40 billion dollars into the local economy, and create nearly 7,000 permanent jobs. It would generate a landmark 2 billion dollars for homelessness programs and services, frontloading more than $140 million in the first five years to address the crisis. It would also dedicate more than $600 million for road and infrastructure repair.

The measure will increase the tax paid by overnight visitors to San Diego. The visitor tax will rise by 1.25 percent for lodging facilities on the periphery of the city to 3.25 percent for those located in the downtown area. “This tax would be paid exclusively by visitors, but would have a tremendous impact on the local economy and the lives of San Diegans, which is why the hotel and tourism industry is proud to support the measure,” said Mike McDowell, CEO of the Lodging Industry Association.

Citing the loss of more than $500 million dollars annually due to the center’s inadequate size, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders lauded the effort, saying “If we fail to expand our convention center, we stand to lose billions of tourism dollars, and thousands of good paying jobs. By expanding the convention center, we are building an engine that will drive our tourism economy forward while also driving funding to aid the homelessness crisis and infrastructure deficit.”

Homelessness advocates Father Joe Carroll of Father Joe’s Villages and Bob McElroy of The Alpha Project have endorsed the measure for its commitment and ingenuity in addressing the homelessness crisis: “This measure provides an unprecedented level of funding to address homelessness. It will change the lives of thousands of men, women and children living on the streets and will help to prevent homelessness in the future,” said Carroll.

McElroy concurred, adding: “The funding is flexible, and enables homelessness advocates and experts to determine how it will be used. It is also protected by independent oversight – and can’t be used for any other purpose. The measure demonstrates a real commitment to alleviating homelessness.”

The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council representing more than 200,000 working families also endorsed the measure. Trustee Keith Maddox said, “This measure builds more than just a convention center. It builds an engine that will drive the creation of thousands of permanent jobs with good pay and real benefits. It will also build up working families by supporting the training and development of San Diego workers – giving them the opportunity to thrive.”

The launch kicks off signature gathering for the campaign, which aims to be on the November ballot.


About YES! For a Better San Diego

Yes! For a Better San Diego is a citizens initiative dedicated to expanding the convention center as an economic engine to create jobs, fuel our tourism economy and drive real funding to address the homelessness crisis and repair roads. It is supported by a diverse coalition of business and tourism industry leaders and organizations, community and homelessness advocates – and labor unions and the working families they represent.

For more information about YES! For A Better San Diego visit

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Paid for by "Yes! For a Better San Diego" - supported by a coalition of downtown tourism and lodging organizations, civic and community activists and homeless advocates. Sponsored by the San Diego Lodging Industry Association and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. 7185 Navajo Road Suite P, San Diego CA 92119. With major funding from Sunstone Park Lessee LLC (San Diego Bayfront Hilton), Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. (Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego) and CCMH San Diego LLC dba San Diego Marriott Marina.