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Daily Business Report — July 10, 2012

City Council Votes to Approve $45.3 Million
Balboa Park Plan After Marathon Session

The San Diego City Council voted 6-1 Monday to approve a $45.3 million plan to remove vehicles from the center of Balboa Park following a lengthy showdown between its supporters and opponents. The vote came after the council heard about 140 speakers both for and against the plan funded to this point by Irwin Jacobs, a co-founder of Qualcomm, and pushed by Mayor Jerry Sanders, who called it a once in a lifetime opportunity. “We have to plan for the future,” said Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer. “Because if we get into a situation where we don’t do that, we’re shirking our responsibility to our children and future generations of San Diegans.”

Jacobs said the project would fully achieve the goal of removing cars from the Plaza de Panama, accommodating visitors to the institutions and add more than 6.3 acres of car-free parkland. Councilman Todd Gloria, whose District 3 includes the park, said the plan’s benefits outweighed its costs. “It does achieve a number of things that are important, specifically, eliminating what I think is a scar down the middle of the heart of Balboa Park, mainly the road and the parking lots in the Plaza de Panama,” Gloria said. “It takes an asphalt parking lot and turns it into a public park, which is what it should be.”

Preservationists have no problem with the idea of making the Plaza de Panama and Plaza de California pedestrian friendly. However, they strongly oppose some of the details, including construction of a 405-foot bypass bridge to carry traffic around the center of the park and building a 797-space underground parking garage in which drivers would have to pay $5 to stash their vehicles for five hours. Councilwoman Sherri Lightner cast the dissenting vote, stating that she opposed paid parking and the bypass bridge was intrusive and expensive. “We all want to transform the heart of Balboa Park into a pedestrian friendly plaza. It’s the how that has divided us,” Lightner said.

Some opponents believe the so-called Centennial Bridge, near the western entrance to the park, will be an eyesore and destroy the historical significance of the area. “We’re going to take one of the most magnificent journeys that we hafe and offer visitors, and we’re going to turn it into one of the worst possible journeys,” said Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organisation.

Jacobs said the Centennial Bridge would allow the restoration of the Plaza de Panama to its historic appearance. “The Centennial Bridge does impact the view of the side of the Museum of Man, but it is a view that is mostly hidden for the last 95 years due to the presence of a historic eucalyptus grove,” Jacobs said.

Centennial Bridge

Opponents also believe the parking structure is financially risky because drivers will probably seek out free parking elsewhere. Their argument was bolstered by a report issued Friday by the city’s Independent Budget Analyst, which said financial projections might not materialize. Supporters reject these contentions and hope to have the improvements in place in time for celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park in 2015. A nonprofit group is attempting to raise about $31 million to pay for the project, while the city would contribute an additional $14 million with a bond to pay for the parking structure.

Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego), who is running against Councilman Carl DeMaio to be the city’s next mayor, said any delays could cause the park’s centennial celebration to be marked with a hole behind the Spreckels Pavilion. “Let’s not destroy the historical integrity of Balboa Park under a promise that somehow something’s going to happen before the centennial,” Filner said.

Mission Valley Office Building Sold for $6 Million

A Mission Valley office building at 1843 Hotel Circle South has been sold for $6.01 million to NBTK Holdings LP. The three-story, single-tenant office building is leased by TASC, a defense contractor. The seller was Marcopoulos Venture Fund III. The transaction was handled by Colliers International, CFI and Ryan Real Estate Advisory.

Hughes Marino Opens Office in Newport Beach

Hughes Marino, a tenant-only commercial real estate services firm, has opened a new office in Newport Beach to serve the Orange County business community. The Hughes Marino office, located at 4000 MacArthur Blvd. Suite 900, will offer a range of services including tenant and buyer representation, enterprise zone tax credit services, lease audit services and construction management. Jason Hughes, the firm’s president, along with Brendan Foote, senior vice president of its tax credit services, and Jessica LeBlanc, a firm associate, will head the Newport Beach office.

Otay Mesa Chamber to Host
Cross-Border Business Program

The Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a July 11 program on what cross-border businesses need to know to avoid fines and criminal sanctions and how it applies to Mexican carriers. Featured speakers will be Virginia Price and Mary Robberson, partners with Higgs Fletcher & Mack. The program will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Comfort Suites, 2351 Otay Center Drive, San Diego. Members are free. Nonmembers are $15.

PERSONNEL

San Diego — Claire Long, former chief financial officer of U-T San Diego, has joined Covario Inc., a search marketing firm, as both its chief financial and its chief operating officer. The dual role encompasses executive oversight of finance, accounting and risk management, as well as human resources, legal, information technology and marketing. Long has more than 20 years of financial leadership experience, including senior positions in the publishing, software, analytics, semiconductor, digital media, specialty retail, resort and telecommunications industries. Before she joined the U-T, Long served as the CFO of Visual Sciences (formerly WebSideStory).


The Daily Business Report is produced by SD METRO. Contact: Manny Cruz (619) 287-1865. manny@sandiegometro.com.


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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: info@probolskyresearch.com