Above: empty Zapf seat second from left during opposition comments
The San Diego Press had an opinion piece about the surprising vote at the special August 8 San Diego city council meeting that turned down a last-minute appeal by mayor Kevin Faulconer to put the raising of the Transient Occupancy Tax on the November ballot. This 24 hours after the city clerk had run out of time to certify sufficient signatures by the deadline to place it on the ballot. The signature drive commandeered by the hotelier cabal had run into difficulty having citizens sign their petition to raise hotel taxes to expand the convention center.
The hidden reason for expanding the convention center has always been to make economically feasible the building of more hotels on our ‘We the People” owned coastal tidelands. As Port district maps have shown, up to 11 new hotels walling off these irreplaceable lands are on the drawing boards.
Placing this highly contentious initiative on the ballot at the last-minute through council had political consequences, particularly those tied up in tight races. Briggs highlighted the fate of one, Myrtle Cole:
“Ironically, The Establishment met its end last Thursday thanks to the vote from labor’s top priority for city council in 2018: incumbent Myrtle Cole. Why did she vote against labor? I think it’s in large part because of Monica Montgomery. Had Cole garnered a majority of votes in the District 4 primary, she would feel comfortable sailing into the general election later this year. Not only did she not get a majority of those votes, but she came in second place to newcomer/unknown Montgomery.
Think about it: Despite being ensconced in The Establishment’s loving embrace, incumbent Cole finished second to a relative nobody. And since there is literally nothing in this unprecedented coalition’s proposal to raise the tourist tax that would provide any tangible, perceptible benefit to the residents of District 4, Cole could not hand her opponent the cudgel with which to drive her out of office.”
While Myrtle Cole ended up being part of the block denying the initiative placement, there was another player to watch; Lorie Zapf. Like Cole, Zapf did not get over 50% of the vote in the primary; an auspicious sign for any incumbent.
At the council meeting, halfway through the speakers speaking in opposition, Zapf got up from her chair and disappeared. She only returned when the first speaker in support of the Convention Center expansion-in-sheep’s-clothing initiative spoke.
When it came time for council members to speak on their perspective on the issue, Zapf was eerily silent. After the vote failed 4-4, Zapf quickly and quietly left the chamber to be seen no more.
Having received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the developer-hotelier industry over the years, her actions were hardly surprising. Yet now there is nowhere for Zapf to hide on whether she’s on the old-boys rape of our precious public coastal lands side or not. Zapf raised the flag with her vote and her true colors were clearly noted.