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November 27, 2013

Further Delays for San Diego Convention Center Expansion

This week, the ongoing plan to expand the San Diego Convention Center was further delayed following a new lawsuit asking for reversal of the California Coastal Commission's October approval.

The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that attorney Cory Briggs filed a motion in Superior Court, saying the $525 million expansion does not comply with the California Coastal Act and a consistency certification was "illegal." This motion follows through on a threat Briggs made last month when the Commission unanimously approved the project. 

Briggs, who represents the San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition that also is active on waterfront issues, asked the court to stop anyone from "taking any action on any aspect" of the expansion. 

Related: San Diego Convention Center Expansion Project Approved

The expansion is expected to break ground in late 2014, and the completed Center is expected to open in 2017. The expansion is a culmination of a multi-year process to accommodate the demand for an expanded facility. Upon completion, the expansion will include an additional 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, creating the largest contiguous exhibit hall on the west coast, an 80,000-square-foot ballroom, five-acre rooftop park and 500-room addition to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. 

San Diego also generated buzz last week when the City Council voted to release millions of tourism marketing dollars that had been frozen due to a legal dispute. Earlier this year, the Tourism Authority was forced to cut 40 percent of its staff as well as dropping a PR team as well as marketing teams in London and Tokyo.

Related: San Diego Tourism Authority to Lose 40 Percent of Personnel

With this release, the Union Tribune is reporting, the Authority can spend up to $17 million in the current fiscal year on advertising and staffing. The authority is reportedly funded by a 2 percent assessment on hotel rooms collected by the city and turned over to the Tourism Marketing District, made up mostly of hotel owners. The legality of this assessment is being challenged in court, but the City Council already voted to release the money a year ago. This move was blocked by (as the article calls him) "disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner," who insisted hotel owners sign waivers and indemnification agreements protecting the city should any of the three lawsuits prevail.

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