The County Registrar of Voters has validated signatures collected by opponents of a recently approved hike in San Diego’s minimum wage, meaning enforcement will be delayed until the issue is decided by voters.
The San Diego Small Business Coalition recently gathered and submitted more than 56,000 signatures in a referendum campaign, and the registrar certified well above the 34,000 signatures of registered voters required to place the matter before voters.
San Diego City Council now has 10 business days to act and can choose to rescind the increase or place it on a future election ballot – either as a special city election or the next regularly scheduled citywide election in June 2016.
Under the legislation passed in July by City Council, San Diego’s minimum wage would rise to $9.75 per hour in January 2015, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017. Additional wage increases tied to the local consumer price index are scheduled to begin in January 2019.
The wage hike was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, but will now await the result of an election if it is placed on a ballot. The city’s minimum wage is currently the California minimum, which went from $8 to $9 per hour on July 1.
“City Council now has an opportunity to step-up and protect the jobs and businesses in our city,” said Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, in a statement responding to the registrar’s validation.
“Should Council not listen to the San Diegans who signed the petitions, voters will surely make their voices heard at the ballot box and rescind the ordinance themselves,” Sanders said.
The minimum wage hike was approved 6-3 by City Council, which also overrode a veto by Mayor Kevin Faulconer, prompting the referendum drive.
City Council President Todd Gloria said he will ask his colleagues to place the measure on the June 2016 ballot, and was confident it will be approved by voters.
“Sixty-three percent of San Diegans support increasing the minimum wage, according to a recent poll.” Gloria said in a statement. “It is disappointing that big businesses have used their money and misinformation to block thousands of San Diegans from receiving a pay raise in January that would help them keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table.”