San Diego International Airport has joined Enterprise and Hertz in their lawsuit against the Port of San Diego. The lawsuit entails the rental companies challenging a $3.50 rental fee per vehicle that the port has levied in order to fund a $40 million parking structure. The lawsuit claims the rental fee is an unlawful tax since it requires a two-thirds approval by voters. On the other side, the Port maintains the rental fee is permitted by law without voter approval. The airport, Enterprise and Hertz are all tenants of the Port. The Port of San Diego had instated the fee in April with the goal raising $5 million a year to help fund the structure, which is part of a 535-acre Chula Vista Bayfront development project.
The parking structure has planned for 1600 vehicle capacity and is built in conjunction with a new convention center, hotel, shopping center and other amenities. In their court fillings, Enterprise contends the new rental charge is not a fee that benefits customers but rather benefits the Port itself. "Given that the parking structure has not been built, none of the customers being assessed the Charge can 'use' the parking structure. 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."
Hertz, siding with Enterprise, challenges that their customers will not be using the parking structure even after it has been built. The filling continues to argue that "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." Airport spokesperson released a statement 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 Port's car rental fee will last the duration until the structure has been paid off. A similar car rental fee scheme to fund a parking structure was collected from 1999 to 2006 for a $29 million building in downtown San Diego.