Green light given to tourism district plan

DEL MAR — With a 4-0 vote at the Sept. 13 meeting, City Council authorized the formation of a Tourism Business Improvement District that will allow hotel operators to charge guests an additional 1 percent fee beginning next month.
On top of the daily room rate, hotel guests are currently charged an 11.5 percent transient occupancy tax, which goes into the city’s general fund to help pay for public services such as law enforcement and beach and fire safety.
The new fee will be collected with the transient occupancy tax, but the money will be used for marketing to attract more visitors to the beach city.
The district was formed with unanimous support from the city’s six hoteliers, who expect to raise approximately $130,000 annually. Oversight will come from a board of directors made up of hotel owners, an aspect of the plan Councilman Don Mosier did not support.
He said the board should include at least one voting member, perhaps from the
Del Mar Village Association, who was not paying into the district.
Mosier was absent from the July 12 council meeting when the resolution of intent was adopted. He said he still isn’t “100 percent happy with the governance, but I can live with it.”
“I hope it works well,” Mosier said.
Mayor Richard Earnest said the new district was “a leap of faith.”
“We are trusting it’s a benefit for the whole community,” he said.
Walt Beerle, president of the Del Mar Village Association, said that willingness to try something new is part of the “can-do attitude of Del Mar” and one reason the association is successful.
“Many things have succeeded,” Beerle said. “Some have not, but we’ve learned from our mistakes.”
The district takes effect Oct. 1 and automatically expires in five years. Hotel owners must repeat the multistep process to re-establish the district, but if approved it will be valid for 10 years.
Participants will have an opportunity to protest the district annually. The board will be subject to the Brown Act and Public Records Act. The city will receive an annual report and be reimbursed for any costs incurred by the district.
“It’s a good move forward,” Councilman Mark Filanc said. “I think it’s a benefit for the city.”

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