San Diego International Airport is joining Enterprise and Hertz in a lawsuit against the Port of San Diego, challenging a $3.50 rental fee per vehicle that is meant to help fund a $40 million parking structure.
According to Voice of San Diego, the lawsuit claims that the $3.50 fee is an unlawful tax because it needs a two-thirds approval by voters. The Port instated the rental fee in April, in hopes of bringing in at least $5 million a year to help pay for the structure, which is part of the larger, 535-acre Chula Vista Bayfront development project.
The airport, Enterprise, and Hertz are tenants of the Port of San Diego. Further, the Port maintains that the rental car fee is permitted by law without voter approval.
In court filings, Enterprise contends that the “charge is not a ‘user fee’ benefitting customers,” but rather, benefits the Port.
“Given that the parking structure has not been built, none of the customers being assessed the Charge can ‘use’ the parking structure,” the filing continue. “Moreover, even if the parking structure is built in the future, only a minuscule percentage of the Enterprise customers would ever use the Chula Vista parking structure, which is approximately 10 miles from the San Diego Airport.”
Similarly, Hertz argues that its customers will not be using the parking structure even after it is built.
“It is false that a significant number of rental cars from transactions on Port Property will have the Chula Vista Bayfront convention center as their destination and will use the convention center's parking structures,” the lawsuit states. “Rather, the overwhelming majority of car rentals will not use the convention center's parking facilities, and the overwhelming majority of cars that will use the convention center's parking facilities will not be rental cars originating from car rental companies on Port Property.”
The car rental fee would be applicable until the structure is paid off. A similar fee was collected from 1999 to 2006 to fund a $29 million parking structure in Downtown San Diego.
In a statement to Voice of San Diego, airport spokesperson Rebecca Bloomfield said that the airport “does not object to the imposition of the fee on rental car transactions occurring off airport property. The Port’s fee on an on-airport transportation mode is unprecedented and should include input from the Airport Authority.”
The 1,600-car parking structure is supposed to be built in conjunction with a new convention center, hotel, shopping center, and other amenities. The Chula Vista Bayfront project was approved by the California Coastal Commission 2012.
Auto Rental News has reached out to Enterprise and Hertz for comment.