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Daily Business Report-Sept. 14, 2009

Ocean science facilities set for Scripps Institution

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will take part in a Tuesday groundbreaking ceremony for two new buildings dedicated to ocean science at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD. The buildings will house state-of-the-art marine life tanks and cutting-edge science labs for conducting ocean research related to marine fisheries management and marine ecology.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center Laboratory will be funded by $102 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 120,000-square-foot building will house up to 300 staff members in laboratory, office and support space and will incorporate a large sea- and fresh-water Ocean Technology Development Tank that will expand NOAA’s ability to develop and apply advanced technologies for surveys of fisheries resources and their associated ecosystems. “This world-class facility will foster collaborations on fisheries management issues and will be a focal point for surveys and assessments of species, the development and application of ecosystem-based approaches to management, research on the impacts of environmental variability and climate change on marine ecosystems and fisheries and conservation socio-economics,” says the NOAA. Construction is to begin in October with occupancy starting in October 2011.

The second building is the the Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling Laboratory. Scripps has been awarded $12 million by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) toward construction of the new $26 million laboratory that will become a resource for marine ecological research at Scripps and for other national and international ocean science organizations concerned with the management of marine resources. “The new facility will enable Scripps scientists to build upon a long history of successful research on marine ecosystems and their response to climate variability and change and to develop a new program that will provide the scientific foundation for marine ecosystem forecasting,” says Scripps. Construction is to begin in early 2011 and be finished by late 2012.

Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the building site at the Biological Grade entrance to the Scripps campus. Other attendees besides Locke will be Margaret Spring, chief of staff for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Patrick Gallagher, deputy director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Mayor Jerry Sanders; and Tony Haymet, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Commission unveils affordable housing finance plan

Multi-family rental units would increase by about 75 percent over 3-5 years

The San Diego Housing Commission board has approved a plan to borrow on the equity of its existing properties into additional affordable multi-family housing units for low- and moderate-income families, including seniors, within the city boundaries of San Diego. The commission’s real estate department, led by Senior Vice President Larry Clemens, plans to acquire an array of properties — some distressed but others that are not suitable to be converted to affordable housing. They include existing rentals, partially finished multi-family developments or other real estate with funding needs. The more than 40 properties being identified for acquisition are scattered throughout the city of San Diego, including several in suburban neighborhoods north of Interstate 8. “We are taking advantage of this unique window of opportunity during a down economy to acquire properties in areas that were previously out of our agency’s economic reach,” says Clemens. Converting these properties to affordable housing will be accomplished by forging partnerships with profit and nonprofit developers as well as the city of San Diego’s redevelopment agencies.

The plan envisions boosting the Housing Commission’s portfolio of multi-family rental housing by more than 1,000 units over the next three to five years. When completed, the number of affordable housing units owned by the agency will increase from 1,371 to approximately 2,400.

Under the financing plan, the commission initially will leverage the equity from 1,254 units of its multi-family properties (91.5 percent of its entire portfolio) to raise $102 million. The equity from the remaining 117 housing units owned by the commission will be held in reserve and remain debt free. About 60 percent of the capital funds will be raised through 30 to 35-year mortgages from the Federal Housing Administration. The remaining 40 percent will be raised from 30-year mortgages from Fannie Mae. This first phase of borrowing will generate sufficient capital to produce an estimated 915 affordable housing units. The mortgages obtained from the FHA are eligible for a special 35 percent interest-rebate bonus program offered under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The commission estimates it will receive $1.2 million annually in interest rebates from the Build America Bonds Program. Properties acquired with the rebate funds will be leveraged to purchase an additional 120 affordable housing units.

The new affordable units may be rented to those earning no greater than 80 percent of the San Diego Area Median Income. A senior can qualify with an income up to $28,900 annually; a family of four may qualify if household earnings are less than $66,100 annually. The plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee on Sept. 23 and by the San Diego Housing Authority on Oct. 6.

Federal contracts awarded to San Diego County companies

Tactical Assault Gear in San Diego won a $5,000,000 federal contract from the Defense Logistics Agency’s Defense Supply Center, Columbus, Ohio, for clothing, individual equipment and insignia.

Medsphere Systems Corp., in Carlsbad won a $8,437,808 federal contract modification from the General Services Administration’s Federal Technology Service in Fort Worth, Texas, for technical support for RM/CM applications under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

(Source: Targeted News Service: www.targetednews.com)

Royal Caribbean to offer new cruises from San Diego

Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas will begin new itineraries to the Mexican Riviera and the West Coast beginning Sept. 25 and running through May 2010. The 2,500-passenger vessel will have 29 round-trip cruises to Mexico, ranging from four- to 12-night itineraries.  Depending on the length of the cruise, ports of call on the Mexican Riviera cruises may include Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, Huatulco, Ixtapa (Zihuatanejo), Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. In addition, a 13-night cruise that calls on West Coast and Alaskan ports, and ends in Vancouver, British Columbia, will depart from San Diego on May 8, 2010. To celebrate the new cruise business the Port of San Diego and Royal Caribbean International will be hosting a ship tour and luncheon on Sept. 25.

School district names interim superintendent

William Kowba, acting chief administrative officer and chief financial officer of the San Diego Unified School District, has been named interim superintendent in the wake of the resignation of Terry Grier, who accepted the top post in the Houston school district. The Board of Education said it will continue its search for a permanent replacement for Grier. A retired Navy rear admiral, Kowba joined the district in August 2006 as chief financial officer. He assumed additional responsibilities as acting chief administrative officer in August 2007.

“Mr. Kowba is an experienced leader with the skills needed to lead our organization at this difficult time,” said Shelia Jackson, president of the school board, in a statement. “Bill served as our interim superintendent during the last transition when Superintendent Carl Cohn resigned. He has played key roles in the district as our chief financial officer and as chief logistics officer.  His detailed understanding of all aspects of our district operations and our schools make him uniquely qualified to lead our district operations.”

Native American art and culture celebrated

The 22nd annual Santa Fe Market returns to Bazaar del Mundo Sept. 18-20 on the corner of Juan and Taylor streets in Old Town. Navajo, Cherokee, Hopi, Pima, Isleta Pueblo and Santo Domingo Pueblo tribe members, along with other noted Southwestern artists will appear, demonstrating and selling their wares at the outdoor marketplace. Art lovers will enjoy rare and stunning collections of multi-stone inlaid jewelry, Southwest and Native American inspired paintings and sculptures, hand-woven pillows and rugs, clothing and accessories, fetishes, storytellers, pottery, Pendelton blankets and more. Also featured will be Taos drums, home furnishings, Southwestern-patterned Zapotec rugs, blankets and authentic Native American pawn jewelry. Among the artists will be jewelry designer Federico, artist and actor Michael Horse and “pawn” trader Art Quintana. The weekend event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

How to contact us

The offices of San Diego Metropolitan magazine and the North Park News are in Cabrillo Plaza, 3990 Old Town Ave., Suite A-201, in Old Town. To reach editorial, call (619) 906-4104. For advertising, dial (619) 906-4105. The fax is (619) 906-4106. Send editorial material via e-mail to manny@sandiegometro.com. For advertising, send to cyndi@sandiegometro.com.

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We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: info@probolskyresearch.com