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Daily Business Report — Oct. 14, 2009

September home sales in county inch up

Home sales in San Diego County inched up in September from the same period of last year, a modest 2.6 percent rise, according to a report by MDA DataQuick of San Diego. The number of homes sold during September totaled 3,454 compared to 3,366 in September 2008.

The median home price fell by 0.9 percent from September last year to September 2009 — from $328,000 to $325,000.

Home sales also climbed a little higher throughout Southern California (Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties). DataQuick said the spike was bolstered by late-closing summer transactions, low mortgage rates and buyers hoping to take advantage of a soon-to-expire tax credit. The region’s median sale price remained lower than in September 2008 but, for the first time in years, several counties logged year-over-year gains in the median price paid for resale houses, a real estate information service reported.

Last month 21,539 new and resale houses and condos were sold in Southern California. That was up 0.2 percent from 21,502 in August and up 5.1 percent from 20,497 a year earlier. September marked the 15th month in a row with a year-over-year sales gain, although last month’s was the smallest of those increases. Sales for the month of September have averaged 24,873, ranging from a low of 12,455 in September 2007 to a high of 37,771 in 2003, based on DataQuick’s statistics, which go back to 1988. Last month’s sales were the highest for a September since 2006, when 24,195 sold.

The median price paid for a Southland home was $275,000 last month, the same as in August but down 10.9 percent from $308,500 in September 2008. It was the median’s smallest year-over-year decline for any month since November 2007, when it dipped 10.3 percent from a year earlier.

Three Southland counties saw small year-over-year gains last month in the median price paid for resale single-family detached houses. Orange County also posted a small annual gain – 0.9 percent – in its overall median price, the first for any month since August 2007, when it rose 1.9 percent. Orange County’s 4.2 percent year-over-year increase in its resale house median last month was also the first for any month since August 2007, when that median rose 3.6 percent.

San Diego County’s median price paid last month for resale houses rose 1.5 percent from a year ago, the first annual gain since August 2007, when it rose 0.9 percent. Ventura County’s September resale house median rose 2.2 percent – the first year-over-year increase since October 2006, when it climbed 1.3 percent.

Foreclosure resales — houses and condos sold in September that had been foreclosed on at some point in the prior 12 months — made up 40.4 percent of all Southland homes resold last month. That was down slightly from a revised 41.7 percent foreclosure resales in August and down from a high of 56.7 percent in February this year.

San Diego City Council moves on civic center study

The San Diego City Council has taken an early step in a possible move to build a new Civic Center. It voted to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) with Oregon-based Gerding Edlen Development to evaluate whether a new civic center is economically feasible. An ENA doesn’t approve any project, but stipulates the terms on which the two parties could move forward with the project. The ENA period is designed to identify the best solution for a new civic center complex and take advantage of opportunities that didn’t exist when the original proposal was presented — such as construction cost savings and financing incentive programs. The City Council allowed up to 12 months for the ENA.

According to studies by Jones Lang LaSalle and Ernst & Young, the civic center proposal by Gerding Edlen  would save significant taxpayer dollars short- and long-term. It is estimated that building a new City Hall would save San Diego between $16.7 and $77.8 million in the first 15 years; it will save as much as $235.6 million over 50 years by consolidating city workers into one efficient structure — versus leasing Downtown office space. The city currently leases 550,000 square feet of office space, spending $13 million a year in rent to five separate Downtown landlords. Short-term repair and maintenance on the current civic center complex buildings is estimated to cost more than $40 million over the next 10 years.

Supporters of the project say it would create 4,250 jobs. When fully completed, supporters add, the civic center would have a $5.8 billion economic impact on the region through sales and property tax reveues and job wages.

Supporters of the ENA include the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Downtown San Diego Partnership and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. and Mayor Jerry Sanders. The mayor said the project would only move forward if it saves the city money.

Councilmembers Ben Hueso, Kevin Faulconer, Todd Gloria, Tony Young and Marti Emerald voted for the ENA with GED. Donna Frye, Sherri Lightner and Carl DeMaio voted against it.

Workshop scheduled on how to avoid foreclosure

A homeownership preservation workshop, sponsored by the HOPE NOW Alliance, the Obama administration’s Making Home Affordable program and NeighborWorks America, will be held in San Diego on Oct. 22 for all area homeowners who may be at risk of foreclosure. The workshop is free and open to the public, and provides a chance for homeowners to meet face-to-face with their mortgage company and a HUD-approved counseling agency to work on a solution to help them stay in their home. The workshop will be from 2 to 8 p.m. in Ballroom 5A of the San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Drive, in Downtown.

HOPE NOW is an alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, counselors and other mortgage market participants that has developed and is implementing a coordinated plan to help as many homeowners as possible prevent foreclosure and stay in their homes. For more information go to www.HopeNow.com or call the free hotline at (888) 995-HOPE.

The Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program was created to help millions of homeowners refinance or modify their mortgage payments to a level that is affordable now and in the future. For more information, go to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.

NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. For more information, go to www.nw.org.

San Diego Trust Bank reports 20th consecutive quarterly profit

San Diego Trust Bank has reported its 20th consecutive quarterly profit with third quarter earnings up 48 percent from the comparable period of a year ago. Net earnings after tax totaled $166 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2009, compared to $112 million for the same period last year. The bank reported year-to-date net income of $434 million compared to $412 million last year despite having to absorb more than a three-fold increase in FDIC insurance premiums and a special assessment that was levied against the entire industry earlier this year. The Bank’s FDIC insurance premium expense was $136 million for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2009, compared to just $43 million for the comparable period last year.

“The bank’s ability to report increased earnings despite the significant increase in deposit insurance premiums this past year is a testament to the strength of our core earnings and the efforts of our entire team,” said Michael Perry, chairman, president and CEO. “We continue to be on track for one of our best years ever as individuals and businesses alike recognize the strength and stability of our institution and seek a ‘safe-haven’ in the continued turmoil in the banking industry.”

Total assets stood at a record $130.8 million, up 22 percent from the prior year’s figures. Total deposits also reached a new all-time high of $109 million as of Sept. 30, 2009, compared to $88 million a year ago.

Two state buildings in San Diego get green certifications

The Caltrans District 11 building and the Mission Valley State Office Building in in San Diego are among 25 state office buildings awarded LEED certifications by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. “By ‘greening’ our buildings, we reduce state government’s impact on climate change and the environment, while also operating healthier facilities within which to conduct state business,” said Ron Diedrich, acting director of the Department of General Services. “General Services is implementing building operations and maintenance procedures across its building portfolio to improve operational efficiency, reduce waste, cut water use, and utilize environmentally-friendly cleaning products.” The state’s green building database is available online at www.greenbuilding.dgs.ca.gov.

Allied Health Building opens at Mesa College

Mesa College today opens its new Allied Health Building, a state-of-the-art, three-story, 50,000-square-foot facility that provides training, laboratory and classroom space for degree and certificate programs for five health care fields — Dental Assisting; Health Information Technology, Medical Assisting, Physical Therapy Assistant and Radiologic Technology. A 10 a.m. ceremony is scheduled. The facility will train students as well as incumbent work force professionals.  The $28.9 million facility is funded by the district’s $1.55 Propositions S and N construction bonds. A 10 a.m. ceremony has been scheduled at 7250 Mesa College Drive.

The architectural firm for Allied Health was Architects Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker, a San Diego-based firm which also designed the adjacent parking structure and police substation, and is completing the design for  Mesa’s future Math & Science Building. The builder was McCarthy Construction, which also worked on the east campus entrance and which will return to Mesa to manage construction of the Math & Science Building. The project began construction in May 2008.

Hamann gets LEED Gold certification for Otay Mesa building

Hamann Construction in El Cajon has achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council on a 134,946-square-foot build-to-suit cold storage facility occupied by Innovative Cold Storage Enterprises Inc. The property is at 7350 Britannia Court in Otay Mesa. Used as a refrigerated warehousing and storage facility for pre-packaged food items which are stored at -10 degrees Fahrenheit, the facility has a clear height of 60 feet, can hold 29,000 pallets and has a storage capacity of 7.5 million cubic feet. The interior of the freezer was designed with extremely narrow aisle racking to maximize the use of space. Efficient goods storage and retrieval is achieved through the use of radio frequency technology and electric forklifts that recharge their batteries with energy generated by the weight of the product being lowered from the racks. Some other energy efficient features include day-lighting and high-efficiency controllable lighting, a cool roof, increased ventilation, carbon dioxide monitors, reflective concrete, and water re-use and conservation measures, among others. There is also 5,000 square feet of office space.

Hamann and San Diego Gas & Electric jointly developed a one megawatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof.  The 504 kilowatt Hamann-owned system will produce 883,008 kilowatt-hours per year, directly providing 36 percent of the facility’s energy requirements. The other 504 kilowatt system is owned by SDG&E and will provide clean, locally generated power to the community. The systems will reduce demand on the grid during peak energy times.  SDG&E awarded a $150,000 Savings by Design incentive as well as an Emerging Technologies incentive of $94,773 to offset the cost of light-emitting diode light fixtures that are activated by motion sensors and a complex refrigeration controls energy management system.

FreightScan LLC names director of system engineering

FreightScan LLC, a company that develops technology for the freight and logistics industry, has promoted Patrick Klacka from senior software engineer to the new position as the director of system engineering. He joined FreightScan in June 2008. In his new role, his primary responsibilities are to develop and maintain the necessary systems engineering processes and training for all FreightScan products, including system architecture, development, testing and maintenance. Klacka has 10 years of professional experience in software development and programming since graduating from UCSD with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.

Planned Parenthood takes part in cultural exchange program

Planned Parenthood of San Diego & Riverside Counties recently participated in a cultural exchange aimed at fostering greater understanding among nations. A delegation of nine women obstetrician gynecologists (three from India, three from Pakistan, and three from Afghanistan) visited Planned Parenthood clinics as part of a month-long examination of the structure and administration of the health care system in the United States, paying particular attention to programs for women.  “The visiting doctors were fascinated to see how we approach reproductive health,” said Katharine Sheehan, medical director of Planned Parenthood. “But we also learned a lot from them.”

“It was a great opportunity to exchange of information,” said Angela Reed, vice president of patient services for Planned Parenthood.  “They were very interested in the variety of birth control methods available to women, education and outreach programs, as well as our cervical cancer screening protocols. They shared information about an educational program for adolescent girls in India called ‘Growing Up.’  This program takes a holistic approach to educating adolescent girls about reproductive and sexual health but also includes nutrition, positive image, and physical exercise.”

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs funds and administers the International Visitor Leadership Program, one of its premiere professional exchange programs.  More than 190,000 international visitors have participated in the program since its inception in 1940.

About Us

The Daily Business Report is a product of REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan magazine and the North Park News. Our offices 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.

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