Public hearings on tourism board to take place soon
After deferring the item in January, the City Council decided 4-1 on June 21 to move forward with the public hearing phase for a proposed tourism promotional board that will focus its efforts on attracting visitors to Del Mar.
The city’s six hotels are seeking permission from the council to increase Del Mar’s 11.5 percent transient occupancy tax by 1 percent to finance the “business improvement district” and to advertise the city and its hotels.
John Lambeth, a consultant who presented a list of answers to questions posed by the council at its Jan. 11 meeting, said the 1 percent increase should yield $130,000 annually for the five-year experiment. About 75 percent, or $96,000 of that, would go to promoting Del Mar.
“The idea here is not to raise rates too much in terms of rates for the hotels or for the guests, but to allow for a bit of money really to market Del Mar and to market the lodging properties that are here,” Lambeth said.
The rest of the money collected would be spent on commercial zone improvements, collection costs, administration, and part would go to the Del Mar Village Association, which would have a nonvoting seat on the board.
Deputy Mayor Don Mosier, the lone dissenting vote on moving forward with public hearings, expressed concern that only hoteliers would be able to make any decisions.
Councilman Mark Filanc said, however, that the hoteliers are the experts in their industry and gave them a vote of confidence.
Mayor Richard Earnest also expressed initial support for the board, which would be subject to the Brown and California Public Records acts.
“I, for one, think we should move forward and set those dates and hear from the public and get going,” he said.
The dates for the public hearings will be set at the July 12 council meeting.
Supporters of the district had asked in January that the council move quickly to form the board by March 22, but the governing body decided to focus the staff’s efforts on what they considered more pressing issues such as form-based code.
The council also asked several questions to those in favor of the board, including whether the city would be reimbursed for staff time, which Lambeth said would be included in the $130,000 collected. The district would automatically expire after five years, but the city would then have to option of extending it another decade.
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