Holiday shoppers in San Diego may have noticed petitioners outside of storefronts asking for signatures to put a measure on the ballot that would, depending on who you talk to, save Comic-Con, build a downtown stadium and keep the Chargers in San Diego.

The measure is called the “Citizen’s Plan for the Responsible Management of Major Tourism and Entertainment Resources,” and is spearheaded by Cory Briggs of San Diegans for Open Government.

The “Citizen’s Plan” would increase taxes on hotel rooms from 10.5% to 15.5% and get rid of the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD), a non-profit corporation which assesses a 2% charge on hotel stays in order to pay for tourism promotion campaigns.

Former San Diego City Council member Donna Frye is a proponent of the “Citizen’s Plan,” which she says will keep San Diego competitive with other cities and invite the public to decide how tourism and hotels should be taxed. Historically, San Diego hotel owners have had the largest say in how their businesses are taxed, something which the “Citizen’s Plan” would change, according to Frye.

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Except the “Citizen’s Plan” does more than just increase the cost of visiting San Diego. The measure includes several other provisions that seem to have less to do with tourism than the main thrust of the initiative.

The initiative would set aside 100 acres of land in Mission Valley, either for the use of the San Diego State University or University of California San Diego.

It also authorizes river-park, university-related and tourism uses of the Qualcomm Stadium, and reduces the chance of environmental litigation stemming from the California Environmental Quality Act for the Mission Valley and downtown areas.

The measure also authorizes, but does not require, a professional sports stadium, either in Mission Valley or within a defined area of downtown designated the ‘Convention and Entertainment Overlay Zone.’

The San Diego Tourism Marketing District, which the proposed measure would eliminate, projects $34.5 million in revenues in the 2016 fiscal year based on a 2% surcharge on hotel rooms. Based on these projections, each percentage point increase in hotel room surcharges would generate approximately $18 million in new revenues for San Diego’s General Fund, according to Citizen’s Plan advocates.

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The SDTMD is currently facing legal challenges over the 4% earmark of hotel room tax revenues. The measure would replace the mandatory earmark and the SDTMD with what it supporters call a more legally supportable and voluntary self-assessment program.

By eliminating the earmark, the measure’s supporters say the city will free up $72 million by eliminating the legally-encumbered program, which could then be used to fix streets and sidewalks, build and maintain parks, libraries, police and fire stations and pay for other governmental services.

The measure needs at least 66,000 valid signatures to appear on the ballot, either in November or June. At an average cost of $3 to $4 per signature, supporters of the “Citizen’s Plan” say they need to raise more money in order to get the initiative on the ballot.

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