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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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Local

City of San Diego
Measure J Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Passing

336,810 votes yes (71.1%)

136,933 votes no (28.9%)

Shall Charter section 55.2 be amended to: increase, from 25% to 35%, the allocation of annual Mission Bay Park lease revenues exceeding $20 million, for capital improvements in San Diego Regional Parks; allow Council to add City-owned parkland to Mission Bay Park's boundaries; combine and coordinate construction of Mission Bay Park improvements identified in this section; and extend operation of this section until 2069?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters San Diego

The Situation

Several private companies, including Sea World, lease property in Mission Bay Park. Charter Section 55.2 is the source of millions of dollars in revenue from Mission Bay Park leaseholds.

Currently, the first $20 million of this lease revenue goes into the City’s General Fund. The remainder is allocated to the Park and Recreation Department for operations; this amount gets divided between Mission Bay Park (75%) and other Regional Parks. (Regional Parks include Chollas Lake, Balboa Park, Mission Trails, Otay River Valley, San Diego River, Presidio Park and Coastal Parks & Beaches.)

The Proposal

What it would do

If passed, this measure will:

  • Extend the term of Section 55.2 by 30 years, from 2039 to 2069.
  • Change the formula for distribution of revenue from 75% to 65% for the Mission Bay Improvement Fund and from 25% to 35% for the Regional Parks Improvement Fund.
  • Modify the sequence of listed priorities so projects can be better coordinated and funded. (Currently, one project must be completed before another can be begun, so simultaneous projects cannot be undertaken.)

Supporters say

  • Extension of Charter Section 55.2 for 30 years longer will ensure long-term funding for deferred maintenance and capital improvement needs in San Diego’s most important parks.
  • A larger share of dedicated funding will be allocated to San Diego’s regional parks and enable regional parks to pursue capital improvement projects.

  • Regional parks allocations will be capped at $3.5 million instead of the current $2.5 million.

  • A longer-term, reliable revenue stream will increase the ability of the City to issue long-term revenue bonds to expedite major deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects in Mission Bay Park and in Regional Parks.

Opponents say

  • A reduced share of lease revenues will be allocated to Mission Bay Park, although Mission Bay Park is generating those revenues. It must be maintained well in order to continue generating them, and that costs money.
  • If term is extended, it will be an additional 30 years (the year 2069) before the Mission Bay lease revenue becomes available for other General Fund purposes.

  • Depending on what happens to the economy, the fixed amount of $20 million for the General Fund could be worth much less in 30 years than it is worth now.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Summary

San Diego City Attorney

San Diego Charter section 55.2, Mission Bay Park and Regional Parks Improvement Funds, was adopted by voters in 2008. This measure would amend the Charter section to:

  • Change the formula for allocating certain lease revenues collected by the City from Mission Bay Park, to increase the amount allocated to the Regional Parks Improvement Fund and to decrease the amount allocated to the Mission Bay Park Improvement Fund;
  • Change the process for funding capital improvement projects in Mission Bay Park that are specifically identified in the Charter and allow them to proceed concurrently under certain circumstances;
  • Reclassify three of the capital improvement projects from mandatory projects to projects that may be recommended by the Mission Bay Park Improvement Fund Oversight Committee and approved by the City Council;
  • Allow the City Council to adopt an ordinance to add contiguous City-owned parkland to Mission Bay Park;
  • Extend the Charter section for 30 years past its expiration date, to June 30, 2069; and
  • Make other non-substantive revisions, including a statement concerning compliance with state law. 

Background

San Diego City Attorney

City officials initiated this measure and the Council placed it on the ballot. If approved, the Charter amendments would become effective after they are chaptered by the California Secretary of State.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

San Diego City Attorney

San Diego Charter section 55.2 provides a formula to divide revenues that the City receives from leases of City-owned property in Mission Bay. The formula requires that the first $20 million received annually be deposited in the City’s General Fund, which is used for municipal purposes. Any additional lease revenues are divided between the Regional Parks Improvement Fund (Regional Parks fund) and the Mission Bay Park Improvement Fund (Mission Bay Park fund). The Regional Parks fund receives the greater of $2.5 million or 25% of the lease revenues over $20 million. The Mission Bay Park fund receives the remaining lease revenues or 75% of the revenues over $20 million.

This measure would increase the allocation of lease revenues to the Regional Parks fund to the greater of $3.5 million or 35% over the threshold amount, and reduce the allocation to the Mission Bay Park fund accordingly. For example, if the total lease revenue is $30 million:

Allocation under the current formula:

  • General Fund $20 million
  • Regional Parks fund $2.5 million
  • Mission Bay Park fund $7.5 million
  • Total Lease Revenues $30 million

Allocation under the amended formula, if approved by voters:

  • General Fund $20 million
  • Regional Parks fund $3.5 million
  • Mission Bay Park fund $6.5 million
  • Total Lease Revenues $30 million

The Charter requires the Regional Parks fund be used on capital improvements in Regional Parks: Chollas Lake Park, Balboa Park, Mission Trails Regional Park, Otay River Valley Park, Presidio Park, San Diego River Park, open space parks, coastal beaches and contiguous coastal parks, and future parks serving regional residents and/or visitors, as added according to the Charter.

The Charter requires the Mission Bay Park fund be used for the benefit of the Mission Bay Park Improvement Zone and first be spent on specific projects listed in the Charter. These projects must be completed, in the order set in the Charter, before the City may proceed to the next project. Upon completion of all the specific projects, the fund may be used for capital improvements within the Improvement Zone, as recommended by an Oversight Committee and approved by the Council. The measure would allow the City to potentially undertake multiple priority projects at once.

The measure would also reclassify the Charter-designated three lowest-priority projects in Mission Bay Park (relating to bike and pedestrian paths, signage, parking lots, landscaping, seawall and bulkhead restoration, and deferred maintenance) from mandatory projects to projects that an Oversight Committee and the Council could recommend for funding with the Mission Bay Park fund.

The Charter section is set to terminate on June 30, 2039. This measure would extend the termination date to June 30, 2069.

Amendments would identify City obligations under state law regarding tidelands within Mission Bay and allow the Council to add certain City-owned parkland to the Charter’s definition of Mission Bay Park.

Financial effect

San Diego City Attorney

This measure would change the current allocation of lease revenue derived from City-owned property in Mission Bay Park. Currently, the greater of $2.5 million or 25% of Mission Bay lease revenue over $20 million is allocated to the City’s Regional Parks Improvement Fund with all remaining funds allocated to the Mission Bay Park Improvement Fund. If this measure is approved, the greater of $3.5 million or 35% of Mission Bay lease revenue over $20 million would be allocated to the City’s Regional Parks Improvement Fund with all remaining funds allocated to the Mission Bay Park Improvement Fund. This change has no fiscal impact beyond shifting certain Mission Bay lease revenues from being used for capital improvements in Mission Bay Park to being used for capital improvements in the City’s Regional Parks.

This measure would also clarify the process for completing prioritized capital improvement projects in Mission Bay Park and allow the City to undertake these improvements concurrently.

Additionally, this measure would extend the restricted use of annual Mission Bay lease revenue above $20 million for an additional 30 years from the current expiration of 2039 to 2069. Without this extension, all Mission Bay lease revenue would become unrestricted and available for general public services in 2040. While it is difficult to accurately project future Mission Bay lease revenue, total projected revenue for Mission Bay Park and Regional Parks under the proposed extension from 2040 to 2069 is roughly $1.4 billion. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE J

IMPROVES PARKS WITHOUT RAISING TAXES

Our parks are an invaluable asset for all San Diegans and attract millions of visitors each year. We must protect them. This measure will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Mission Bay Park, Balboa Park and San Diego’s regional parks – without new taxes.

Prop J guarantees that the majority of revenues generated in Mission Bay Park from hotels and leases, over a threshold, are directed to improving Mission Bay Park and other major parks for an additional 30 years – ensuring San Diego’s environment and park system are sustained for future generations.

KEEPS MISSION BAY CLEAN, SUPPORTS TOURISM

Mission Bay Park provides countless recreational opportunities for families and visitors – strengthening San Diego’s neighborhoods and tourism economy. Keeping the bay clean and safe is essential to San Diego’s continued prosperity and quality of life.

This measure will fund important projects such as new playgrounds, bike paths and trails, preserve and restore environmentally sensitive habitats, expand wetlands and improve water channels to increase boating safety.

REPAIRS BALBOA PARK AND PARKS ACROSS SAN DIEGO

Prop J will revitalize San Diego’s iconic and cherished regional parks. It will allocate funds to preserve Balboa Park, including historic structures that are in need of critical repairs. Parks throughout San Diego that will benefit from more public funding include:

  • Chicano Park
  • Chollas Lake Park
  • Mission Trails Regional Park
  • Otay River Valley Park
  • Presidio Park
  • San Diego River Park
  • Torrey Pines City Park
  • Open space parks and coastal beaches

CONTINUES REFORM AND INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT

Prop J keeps money generated by Mission Bay in Mission Bay and regional parks.

It is a charter amendment that cannot be waived by politicians. An independent oversight committee ensures funds will be spent only for improving our parks.

Vote “YES” on J to Protect Our Parks and Mission Bay

 /s/ 

KEVIN L. FAULCONER 
Mayor, City of San Diego

TODD GLORIA
San Diego City Councilmember

LORIE ZAPF
San Diego City Councilmember

PAUL ROBINSON 
Chair of Mission Bay Park Committee

BETTY PEABODY 
Founder of Friends of Balboa Park

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE J

No argument against Measure J was filed in the office of the City Clerk

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR

[None]

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

[None]

— San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure J

Organizations (3)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure J
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

More information

News (6)

(At a glance) City of San Diego ballot measures, E-N — October 23, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune
Parks measure drawing some opposition — October 8, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune
Turns Out the Measure J Parks Plan Isn’t a Gimme After All — September 23, 2016 Voice of San Diego
San Diego Explained: Balboa Park’s Problems — April 21, 2016 Voice of San Diego
A Tale of Two Parks — February 29, 2016 Voice of San Diego
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