Daily Business Report — Sept. 9, 2010
Convention Center Expansion and Hotel Proposal Moves Forward
The proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion and hotel development project was moved along this week when the Board of Port Commissioners directed its staff to begin the environmental review process for the project. The selection of a consultant to conduct an environmental impact report on the construction project is expected to be made in December. That report will take 12 to 18 months to complete. If ultimately approved, the expansion would add 200,000 to 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, 100,000 square feet of meeting rooms and 80,000 square feet of multi-purpose ballrooms. The proposed hotel would have 250 to 500 guest rooms, ballroom/meeting space, retail shops and parking.
An amendment to the port district’s master plan is necessary because of the land use changes required for the expansion. Both the amendment and the environmental impact report must be approved by the California Coastal Commission, which could render a decision in winter 2012.
Next month, the port district expects to select a design team for the expansion out of five architectural teams that are competing for the work. The winning design team’s design for the expansion may be presented at the Nov. 2 meeting of the Board of Port Commissioners.
Expansion proponents say the project would generate $698 million annually in economic benefits to the city. The Convention Center today generates $1.3 billion in economic benefits.
The cost of expanding the Convention Center — including building a new pedestrian bridge and a 500-rooom hotel — would exceed $1 billion, according to an analysis given to Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Citizens Task Force on the San Diego Convention Center in June 2009. The analysis was prepared by investment banking firm PiperJaffray. The center expansion would cost $783.4 million, but would increase to $821.9 million if the pedestrian bridge was built, according to the analysis. It said the hotel would add $200 million to the total cost. If just the Convention Center expansion and pedestrian bridge moves forward, it would cost the city $56.2 million annually to finance the project. That number would drop to $52.5 million if the hotel is built, according to the analysis.
North Park Resident to Head San Diego Housing Federation
Susan Riggs Tinsky of North Park has been selected by the San Diego Housing Federation board of directors as the organization’s new executive director. She replaces Tom Scott who is retiring on Oct. 31. Tinsky has been an attorney with the San Diego law firm of Best, Best & Kreiger LLP since 2008. She specializes in affordable housing and redevelopment law. She worked for the San Diego Housing Commission from 2001-2004. In her last assignment there, she served as chief policy adviser working on public policy issues such as San Diego’s linkage fee, which is again under study.
Tinsky served previously as vice president of government affairs for the San Diego Association of Realtors and on the adjunct faculty of San Diego State University and Southwestern College where she taught housing policy and real estate economics, respectively. Tinsky is active in a number of community and civic organizations. She is president-elect of Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, former co-chair of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Housing Policy Committee, and serves on the board of Walk San Diego. She is also participating in Sustainable San Diego’s Steering Committee.
Tinsky has been active in the redevelopment of North Park. She was vice president of the North Park Community Association from 2003 to 2006 and served on the North Park Redevelopment Project Area Committee from 2005 to 2007.
She received her JD magna cum laude from Thomas Jefferson Law School in 2008. She holds a master’s degree in city planning from San Diego State where she was outstanding graduate of the year in 2002. Her bachelor’s degree in Spanish is from the University of Georgia-Athens.
Scott has been the Federation’s executive director since 2002. During his tenure the Federation has grown its membership, increased participation in SDHF activities, and improved its financial position. He served as president of Housing California in 2008. He is currently president of the San Diego Association of Non-Profits.
County Attorney to Retire to Teach Law at USD
John Sansone, who has served mored than 25 years as an attorney in the Office of County Counsel — including 15 years as county counsel — will retired in January to teach law at the University of San Diego School of Law. Sansone will serve as professor-in-residence and will teach state and local government law for the spring semester, which begins in mid-January. He also will assist in supervising USD law students participating in legal internships with local government agencies.
Sanson was appointed county counsel in January 1996 by the Board of Supervisors. Board Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price said the Office of County Counsel has logged significant achievements under his leadership. “It has become one of the preeminent local government law offices in the state of California,” Slater-Price said. “Most striking is the office’s rock-solid litigation record.” Over the past 10 years, Sansone and his team of 70 attorneys have won more than 94 percent of the 898 completed court cases filed against the county, for a record of 850 wins and 48 losses.
Sansone said he is proud of this achievement which he attributed to fighting most lawsuits in court, rather than settling cases. Of 1,228 total lawsuits filed against the county that were completed during this period, the county decided to fight 73 percent (898) of the cases in court, and settled only 27 percent (330).
Prior to joining the County Counsel’s Office in 1985, he served as the assistant director of financial aid at USD for 10 years from 1975 to 1985.
Port District Offers Early Retirement to Employees
The Port of San Diego will offer early retirements to more than 100 port employees to save the district an estimated $3.3 million in the first year, a figure that could go higher depending on the number of workers who enroll in the program. The Board of Port Commissioners approved the program on Tuesday. Commissioners Stephen Cushman and Michael Bixler voted against the plan. They questioned the projected cost savings and said the plan could cost the district more if training and other costs associated with replacing employees are taken into account. The district has identified 114 employees who are qualified for the retirement incentives. Additionally, 39 employees enrolled in the (Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) are eligible for a cash incentive. If one-third of the employees qualified for early retirement opt to leave the district, there would be about $3.3 million in savings, according to the district. The estimated cost to the district would be $420,000 a year when amortized over 15 years. Employees considering enrolling in the early retirement program must submit a letter of intent by Oct. 1. The enrollment period will run from Oct. 1 through Dec. 15. Employees retiring early cannot be rehired by the district, nor can they be hired as consultants by the district for one year after retirement.
The Board of Port Commissioners also approved a new salary schedule that includes a previously negotiated 4 percent salary increase for members of the Teamsters Union, which includes general services personnel, dispatchers, wharfingers and traffic enforcement officers. In addition, the salary schedule includes a previously negotiated 2.5 percent increase for members of the San Diego Harbor Police Officers Association.
Lighting Team Approved for S.D.-Coronado Bay Bridge
A European and North American artist-led design team has been chosen to artistically light the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. The Board of Port Commissioners accepted the recommendation of the team by a selection panel. The team is to be led by London-based artist Peter Fink of FoRM Associates in collaboration with Speirs and Major Associates and Buro Happold. The team was selected over two other finalists, the Bideau Company and the team of Ned Kahn/ Patrick McInerney/Arup. The estimated cost for lighting the bridge is between $4 million and $5 million. The funding is anticipated to be obtained through private sources, grants and fundraising. A feasibility study must be conducted.
Electronic Music and Technology Experts Unite
The San Diego Music & Technology Conference (SDMTC), which celebrates the convergence of music producers, enthusiast and technology innovators, will be held Sept. 16-17 at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego. “SDMTC is an open innovation platform for the advancement of electronic music by bringing the music industry and leading technology companies together,” said SDMTC co-founder Roland Ligtenberg. “We wanted to bridge the gap between music and technology experts, between successful and amateur artists, in a setting that will inspire conversation and advance the industry as a whole.”
SDMTC will consist of panels, workshops and showcases of the latest trends in music and technology from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Simultaneously, poolside music events will be taking place from noon to 6 p.m. at Float, just outside the conference rooms at the Hard Rock Hotel. The evening will be comprised of networking events from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
LGBT Film Festival Director Appointed
Kaleb James has been appointed festival director of FilmOut San Diego’s 13th annual LGBT Film Festival next year. The festival will be staged Aug. 19-21 and Aug. 26-28 in 2011. More than 60 films will be screened throughout the festival at the Birch North Park Theatre. Kaleb has been FilmOut’s volunteer coordinator since 2004. Board Member Rick Goldenstein has taken the position of festival board president. Michael McQuiggan, festival programmer, Darius Perez and Frank Lechner will all remain on as board members. For more information, visit filmoutsandiego.com.
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