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June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
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City of San Diego
Proposition E Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


225,949 votes yes (83.17%)

45,719 votes no (16.83%)

Shall the City Charter be amended to update the process related to budgeting and appropriating funds, to consolidate provisions that appeared throughout the Charter and to clarify the approval process for the City budget?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure


City of San Diego

This proposition would amend the San Diego Charter to update the process related to the approval of the City’s annual budget and appropriation ordinance, add requirements for capital planning mid-year amendments to the adopted budget, and remove outdated titles from related Charter provisions. 

Impartial analysis / Proposal

San Diego City Attorney

The City’s annual budget sets out the City’s spending priorities. The appropriation ordinance enacts the budget and provides authority to spend money in accordance with the annual budget.

The Charter provides the process by which the annual budget is proposed by the Mayor and adopted by the City Council. Portions of this process date to 1931, when the Charter was adopted and the City was governed under a City Manager form of government. Other provisions were added in 2004, when voters approved changing the City’s form of governance to a Strong Mayor form of government. The Mayor is now the City’s chief executive and responsible for the City’s day-to-day administration. The Charter now includes portions of the budget approval process in two articles, Article VII and Article XV.

If approved, this proposition would consolidate all Charter provisions dealing with approval of the budget and adoption of the appropriation ordinance in one section in Article VII. Additionally, the proposition provides detail regarding the budget approval process to reflect practices that evolved after the Strong Mayor form of government was adopted. The proposition also would remove outdated procedures and titles and update position titles in the Charter. No new positions are created.

The proposition would require the Mayor to propose a balanced budget for the Council’s consideration and sets forth milestones prior to the budget’s presentation. The Mayor would begin by preparing a multi-year financial outlook projecting anticipated revenues and expenditures in future years. Councilmembers would then be required to prepare budget priority memoranda. The Independent Budget Analyst would analyze the memos and send them to the Mayor for consideration. The Mayor would be required to present the proposed budget to the Council no later than April 15.

After at least one public hearing, the Council could approve the budget as proposed or modify it. If unmodified, the proposed budget would become the adopted budget. If modified, the Mayor would have a line-item veto over modifications. The Mayor’s veto could be overridden by a two-thirds Council vote. The Council would be required to adopt the appropriation ordinance enacting the adopted budget by June 30 of a given year.

The adopted budget and salary ordinance are the controlling documents in the preparation of the appropriation ordinance. If the appropriation ordinance is delayed, the Chief Financial Officer would be authorized to make expenditures based on the prior year’s appropriation ordinance, as modified by the adopted budget. The appropriation ordinance is not subject to the Mayor’s general veto power.

The proposition would add a requirement that the Mayor maintain a multi-year capital plan that identifies and prioritizes the City’s deferred capital and infrastructure needs and projects funding sources available. The proposition requires the Council to adopt an ordinance setting terms and conditions under which the Mayor must propose mid-year budget amendments.

The Council’s Charter Review Committee approved this proposition, and the Council placed it on the ballot. If approved, the Charter amendments would become effective after they are chaptered by the California Secretary of State. 


Financial effect

City of San Diego

This measure would update, repeal, and consolidate outdated sections of the City Charter in an effort to better describe the City’s current budgeting and appropriation processes.

There is no fiscal impact associated with these Charter amendments.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

The Charter is the Constitution for the City of San Diego. It was written 85 years ago and has not undergone a thorough review or update since. Some Charter articles and many sections are simply unnecessary, outdated, confusing, or worse, contain misinformation. The Charter needs to be updated to reflect how the City operates in the 21st Century and to be more open, transparent, and easy for citizens to read.

The Charter Review Committee worked with the City’s Chief Financial Officer, the Independent Budget Analyst, the City Attorney and the Mayor’s office to develop these proposed Charter changes.

The recommended Charter changes regarding the budgeting process will:

  • Consolidate the City’s budgeting process and place it in sequential order.
  • Remove impractical deadlines, and recognize the cooperative effort between the Mayor and City Council that the budget requires.

Your “yes” vote on Prop E will update the City’s budgeting process in the Charter to read in plain language, accurately reflect current practices, move appropriate provisions to the Municipal Code, and repeal language that is outdated or superseded by state or federal law.

Prop E has strong support from the City Council, League of Women Voters of San Diego, and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.


Sherri Lightner, City Council President

Chris Cate, City Councilmember

Jerry Sanders, President & CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Jeanne Brown, President, League of Women Voters of San Diego

— City of San Diego

Arguments AGAINST

No argument against Proposition E was filed in the office of the City Clerk.

— City of San Diego

Read the proposed legislation

More information

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