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Tourism business district takes step forward

DEL MAR — With a 4-0 vote at the July 12 meeting, City Council adopted a resolution of intention to establish a Tourism Business Improvement District that will allow hotel owners to charge visitors a 1 percent fee that will be used to promote tourism and attract more visitors to the popular beach city.
Council also set two required public hearings for 6 p.m. on Aug. 2 and Sept. 13.
Councilman Don Mosier, who opposed the district during a previous meeting, was absent July 12. Mosier said he did not support the proposal because the governing board for the district was made up of hotel owners only. He said the board should include at least one voting member, perhaps from the Del Mar Village Association, or DMVA, who was not paying into the district.
DMVA will have an ex-officio, nonvoting seat on the board. John Lambeth of Civitas Advisors Inc., the consultant hired to help develop the Del Mar program, said nearly all of the 50 tourism districts in California use this type of governing system.
Formation of the district was proposed by Del Mar hoteliers early last year. The assessment is expected to raise about $130,000 annually. The fee will be collected with the transient occupancy tax. All costs incurred by the city, including start-up fees, will be reimbursed.
Hotel visitors staying less than 30 days will be subject to the assessment. Government employees on government business, bed-and-breakfast establishments or short-term vacation rentals would be exempt.
If final approval is granted following the two public hearings, the district will become effective for five years beginning Oct. 1. It will automatically expire after five years.
Hotel owners must repeat the 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. City Council will receive an annual report.
“(I’m) very glad we’re at this point,” Lambeth said. “We’ve got great support from the lodging community.”