City Council Ignores The Law to Put Flawed Ballot Question Before Voters in March

San Diego, CA -  Today, November 4, 2019, the San Diego City Council voted 5-4 to put a potentially unlawful ballot question before voters that would finance the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, among other things. The ballot measure would authorize the city to both impose a tax and issue bonds. However, the ballot question does not include significant details that are relevant to voters and required by law. 

Specifically, Assembly Bill 195, enacted into state law in 2017, requires City Council to adopt ballot statements that include specific language to make it clear to the voters what they are being asked to vote on. In particular, state law requires City Council to include in the ballot statement, the total amount of taxes to be raised on an annual basis. The ballot question adopted by City Council today does not comply with that requirement. Additionally, AB 195 requires the statement to be true and impartial, and it is neither. See our letter detailing our concerns about the ballot question. 

Although the City Attorney’s Office acknowledged the concerns raised by Alliance San Diego and the requirements in AB 195, that office chose to ignore those requirements, stating that the word limit for a ballot question made it a challenge to include them. In other words, the City Attorney advised and the City Council concurred that the preferred language trumped the required language, which is astonishing.

Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego issued the following statement:

“Today, City Council abdicated its responsibility and chose to put a flawed ballot question before the voters on the March election. We are deeply troubled by their willful and negligent decision to ignore the law and disregard voters. 

The buck stops with City Council, which chose to ignore the required language in order to include language that favors the ballot measure. In short, they chose the words they like, not the words required by law and needed for voters to make an informed decision.

We thank Council President Pro Tem Barbary Bry and council members Chris Ward, Monica Montgomery and Vivian Moreno for voting against this flawed ballot question. In the coming days Alliance San Diego will explore all of our options to hold the City Council and the City Attorney accountable for their egregious actions. It’s what the voters deserve.”

About Alliance San Diego

Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice. Our mission is to provide a means for diverse individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate on issues and mobilize for change in the pursuit of social justice, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. We pursue this mission through targeted civic engagement programs and strategic coalitions that focus on specific issues and policy reforms.