SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego's ailing finances dominated the City Hall agenda once again in 2010, as voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed half-cent sales tax increase in November and elected a City Council member who promised to shake things up.
The council majority responded to the setbacks by making Tony Young -- the member considered the most able to work with various factions on the council and in the city -- the panel's president. Young, upon accepting the appointment, made solving the city's structural deficit his top priority for 2011.
"Don't be surprised if you see that on the agenda every week until that's corrected," Young told his colleagues.
The task became more critical in November when nearly 62 percent of voters rejected Proposition D, which would have raised the sales tax from 8.75 cents to 9.25 cents for five years and generated about $102 million annually for the city's general fund.
Mayor Jerry Sanders has projected a budget shortfall for San Diego of $72 million during the next fiscal year.
The opposition to Proposition D was led by Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is part of the "reform" wing of the council, along with Kevin Faulconer.
"By defeating Prop. D, San Diegans have issued a mandate for reform and change in city government," DeMaio said on election night.
Voters strengthened the reform cause by adding to the council Lorie Zapf, who defeated former Democratic Assemblyman Howard Wayne 53 percent to 47 percent to replace the termed-out Donna Frye in a district that includes Clairemont, Bay Park, Kearny Mesa, Linda Vista, Mission Valley and Serra Mesa.
New Councilman David Alvarez could also alter the complexion of the panel. He won 58 percent to 42 percent over Felipe Hueso in a district that covers Barrio Logan, Grant Hill, Golden Hill, Sherman Heights, Stockton, Logan Heights, Memorial, Southcrest, Otay Mesa and San Ysidro.
Alvarez replaces Ben Hueso, who led the council majority but was termed out. The younger brother of Felipe Hueso moved on to the state Assembly.
Two issues on which city leaders delayed action returned late in the year -- lifting a financial cap on downtown redevelopment and building a new City Hall.
In June, the City Council voted unanimously to hire a consultant who would take 15-18 months to study whether to increase a cap on tax revenue funneled to the city's downtown redevelopment arm from $2.9 billion to about $9 billion.
A portion of tax revenues generated by downtown construction goes to the Centre City Development Corp. to fund future projects, but there is a lid on the total amount taken in during the life of the agency, and several large projects are being proposed -- including a new stadium for the Chargers football team.
In October, the cap was lifted to $6 billion -- $3 billion less than originally intended -- in the waning hours of the state Legislature's session after a closed-door deal between Mayor Jerry Sanders and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego.
The deal drew the ire of DeMaio and other council members, who felt they were left out of the process. DeMaio wrote in a memo that the "unilateral action at the request of a state legislator completely disregards a public process."
On replacing the deteriorating City Hall, council members planned to place a project before voters in November, but the ballot plan was vetoed by Sanders, who was worried that it would conflict with the ill-fated sales tax increase measure.
Perhaps stung by Proposition D's fate, some council members apparently want to reconsider the proposed City Hall construction project -- and might vote to approve it themselves early in 2011.
Authorities asked the public Friday for help in identifying and tracking down a pair of thieves who have carried out a two-week series of bank robberies this month in the San Diego area.
Backers of an initiative that would allow San Diego State University to buy the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley for campus expansion are scheduled to begin seeking petition signatures Saturday.
An unknown assailant jumped a woman Friday on a walking trail near Gillespie Field airport and choked her nearly into unconsciousness, fleeing when she managed to break free, authorities reported.
The San Diego Gulls allowed power-play and shorthanded goals in the first period and an empty-net goal in the third in a 4-2 loss to the Stockton Heat Friday night at Stockton.
San Diego County's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent last month despite seasonal cutbacks in leisure and hospitality jobs, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
The San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation on Friday held an awards ceremony to recognize the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep San Diegans safe.
It has been ten years since devastating wildfires swept through San Diego, destroying thousands of structures and affecting so many lives.
From a baby tiger cub to monitor lizards and a macaw, authorities have seized dozens of animals and filed charges against 16 people as part of what they say is the largest wildlife trafficking sweep in Southern California.
Three officer-involved shootings over the past year, including the killing of a man who opened fire at a pool party at a La Jolla apartment complex, were legally justified, District Attorney Summer Stephan announced Friday.