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Daily Business Report — Dec. 13, 2011

METRO Movers to Watch

SD Metro is soliciting nominations for our annual Metro Movers to Watch awards, which will be published in January. Send your nominations to Rebeca Page at Nominate a man or woman you believe will make outstanding contributions in San Diego County during the new year. Nominations will close on Dec. 22.

United Airlines to Offer Daily Flights to Mammoth

United Airlines on Thursday will begin new nonstop daily service between Lindbergh Field and Mammoth. The service will operate through the winter season. The first flight will depart at 7:40 a.m. on Thursday.

San Diego County Home Sales Rise

November home sales in San Diego County topped out at 2,754 — a 7.3 percent increase from the same month of last year and a slight drop from the 2,759 homes sold in October, according to a report today by DataQuick. The median home price in November was $315,000 — down by 6.0 percent from $335,000 recorded in November 2010. The median was unchanged from October to November.

Southern California Report:

Homes sold in Southern California rose modestly last month from both October and a year earlier. Investors and first-time buyers targeted homes priced below $400,000. Sales above $500,000 fell nearly 16 percent from a year earlier amid a troubled market for larger home loans, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 16,884 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in November. That was up 0.3 percent from 16,829 in October and up 4.2 percent from 16,208 in November 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. “’Tis still the season to go bargain hunting – or at least that’s what the November home sales data suggest,” said DataQuick President John Walsh. “The portion of homes sold to investors continued to hover near an all-time high. Lower prices and amazingly low mortgage rates tempted those with the confidence to buy and the ability to qualify for a loan, or to pay cash.”

Last month the median price paid for all new and resale Southland houses and condos sold was $275,000, up 1.9 percent from $270,000 in October but down 4.2 percent from $287,000 in November 2010.

SOHO Fights Caliente Sign Removal

Photo by Pamela Schreckengost

By Angela Carone — Reporting on KPBS

The faded 40×80 foot yellow sign is on the western side of the California Theater. It reads “Caliente! in Old Mexico” and includes an image of a jockey racing his horse. The sign is a reminder of the days when San Diegans and Hollywood celebrities would cross the border to the Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana, where drinking and gambling were legal during prohibition.

Last month, the city approved a proposal to paint over the sign with a beer advertisement. Cathy Winterrowd is a senior planner in the city of San Diego’s historic resources department. She reviews modifications to historic buildings to make sure they comply with standards for the treatment of historic properties. Winterrowd and her staff approved the proposal to paint over the Caliente sign. She explained why in a written statement: “The existing Caliente sign has no association with the historic California Theater and does not itself have historical significance…I found that painting the new sign over the existing painted surface would not damage historic fabric or otherwise adversely impact the building and therefore was consistent with the regulations.”

Bruce Coons disagrees. He’s the executive director of the Save Our Heritage Organisation. Said Coons:“We believe that (the proposal) should have gone through the 45-year review, which anything that’s 45 years or older is reviewed to see if it’s historic. I think there’s a good case to be made that the sign itself is historic in its own right and important to the cultural history of San Diego.”

Chula Vista-based Valerio Resources Inc. drafted the proposal to advertise on the wall space currently occupied by the Caliente sign. Company president Edward Valerio says he’s leasing the space from the current owners of the theater, Sloan Capital LLC. Valerio says he initially proposed a vinyl sign to drop over the side of the theater, leaving the Caliente sign intact, but the vinyl was considered a modification to the historic building and therefore failed to pass. Valerio says negotiations are currently underway with Newcastle Brown Ale to advertise on the theater wall. He would not reveal how much he’s charging for the ad space.

Sloan Capital is the latest in a string of private owners of the now derelict California Theater, which closed around 1990. The theater was built in 1927 and was San Diego’s premiere movie palace in its heyday.

SBA Loan Financing Shows Increase

Small Business Administration loan financing approved for commercial real estate purchases in San Diego increased slightly in November from October, according to CDC Small Business Finance. CDC reported that nine Small Business Administration SBA-504 loans were approved in San Diego in November, providing small businesses with $9.8 million in financing to purchase commercial/industrial buildings. In October, four SBA-504 loans were approved for a total of $5.9 million in capital. Of the 13 SBA-504 loans approved in October/November, CDC Small Business Finance transacted seven of them. CDC also reported increasing interest in the new SBA-504 refinance loan program, which allows small businesses to refinance commercial property and restructure existing debt. The current interest rate is 5.14 percent. “For small businesses with devalued commercial property that are facing a balloon payment on a mortgage or an interest rate increase, this refinance program is a huge opportunity,” said Kurt Chilcott, president/CEO of CDC Small Business Finance. The 504 loan program was created by the SBA for the specific purpose of financing long-term fixed assets such as commercial real estate and equipment with economic life of 10 years or greater.

San Diego Press Club Announces New Officers and Directors

The San Diego Press Club has named its new officers and board of directors for the 2011-2012. President is Nicole Sours Larson, writer; first vice president is Jill Esterbrooks, Office of San Diego Council President; second vice-president is Ed Joyce, KPBS; treasurer continues to be Reid Carroll, retired radio newsman; secretary is Pauline Repard, a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune; and immediate past president is Lee Swanson, San Diego Fire Rescue Department. Board members are travel writer Maggie Espinosa, Kris Eitland of, Gayle Lynn Falkenthal of the Falcon Valley Group, Sally Hixson of Sal Marketing, Karolen Linderman of Del Mar Community Connections, Barbara Metz of Metz Public Relations, Dennis Morgigno of Channel 4, Lisa Petrillo of, Laura Walcher of J. Walcher Communications and Tom York of the San Diego Business Journal. Directors Emeritus are KPBS’ Gloria Penner and retired Union-Tribune reporter Frank Sandana.

Small Business Workshops

SCORE San Diego continues its series of small business workshops. For more information, call (619) 557-7272 or visit

Upcoming SCORE San Diego Workshops:

• Dec. 15 – QuickBooks Basic – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at National University – Kearny Mesa (9388 Lightwave Ave., San Diego 92123; pre-paid registration $69, $79 at the door).

• Dec. 15 – Financing Your Business – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at National University – Carlsbad (705 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad 92011; pre-paid registration $29, $39 at the door).

• Dec. 16 – Business Plan 201: How to Write a Winning Business Plan – 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at National University – Kearny Mesa (9388 Lightwave Ave., San Diego 92123; pre-paid registration $99, $109 at the door).

The Daily Business Report is produced by REP Publishing Inc., publisher of SD METRO, the North Park News and the West Coast Craftsman. Contact: Manny Cruz (619) 287-1865.

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Voice Your Opinion

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: