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Daily Business Report — Feb. 5, 2013

Balboa Park today. Plaza de Panama is at far left.

Preservationists Declare Victory in Battle
Against Parking Plan for Balboa Park

Judge rules that city violated its municipal code

City News Service — In a victory for preservationists, a judge on Monday affirmed his earlier tentative ruling that the San Diego City Council violated the city’s municipal code when it approved a bitterly contested plan to remove cars from the center of Balboa Park. San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor decided there was no evidence to support a finding by the council that the project area would have no reasonable beneficial use if the plan wasn’t approved. The finding was necessary because of the park’s historic status. He had found in favor of Plaza de Panama plan supporters on two other issues raised in the Save Our Heritage Organisation’s suit, but his decision on the third point effectively derails the project for the moment.

In an updated ruling following oral arguments on Friday, the judge said he couldn’t find in favor of the plan even after he adopted the city’s interpretation of the municipal code. He said the fact that the park is heavily used shows there is a beneficial use even without the plan. SOHO primarily objects to a proposed bridge on the west side of the park that would carry traffic around the Plaza de Panama and Plaza de California, and toward a mostly underground parking structure that would be built behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The organization contends the bridge would be unsightly and place the park’s historic status in jeopardy.

Bruce Coons

SOHO otherwise agrees with the basic concept of removing vehicles from the park’s core. Bruce Coons, the executive director of the organization, said he is “extremely gratified” by the ruling. “Balboa Park is a rare and extraordinary site, filled with history, culture and beauty,” Coons said. “It would have been nothing short of a travesty to lose this treasure to a remodel better suited for an industrial park.” He said the Plaza de Panama plan would have cleared vehicles from one small area of the park while subjecting the rest of the area to “a sea” of traffic.

The judge’s ruling sets aside the City Council’s approval of the project, but he conceded the issue would probably be appealed. He also said he was reluctant to make the ruling, since it could cost millions of dollars of funding put forth by Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith put a positive spin on the development, saying the ruling upheld the city’s process under the California Environmental Quality Act and the vetting of the project’s environmental impact report. “We are carefully reviewing the judge’s interpretation of the city’s ordinance at issue and will be discussing options with our client,” Goldsmith said, referring to the mayor and City Council. “At this point, we are not prepared to announce a course of action, but we expect to do so in the near future.” The plan’s supporters had hoped to complete the project within two years, in time for a planned yearlong celebration of Balboa Park’s 100th anniversary.

Postal Connections Offers 50 Percent Discount
From its Franchise Fee to Military Veterans

Postal Connections of America is offering a 50 percent discount from its franchise fee for military veterans. “The discount is $12,450 off the standard $24,900 franchise fee, making our initial investment to own a new, turnkey store as low as $100,000,” said Fred Morache, PCA franchisor and owner.  Morache said the company has veterans from various parts of the country who are operating top-performing stores. Ann Marie Marvin, a former Navy lieutenant commander with six years active duty and four years in the reserves, was deployed to the Gulf twice. Together with her husband Darin, a former Navy commander, they have operated a top-performing PCA franchise on Clairemont Drive in San Diego for nearly three years.  “From our military background, we are used to being in command and good at managing people,” said Ann Marvin.

Gabriel Technologies Ordered to Pay $12.4 Million
In Attorneys’ Fees in Legal Action Against Qualcomm Inc.

A federal district judge has ordered Gabriel Technologies Inc. to pay more than $12.4 million in attorneys’ fees for pursuing objectively baseless claims against Qualcomm Inc. in bad faith. The complaint, filed in October 2008, claimed 11 causes of action against Qualcomm and focused on allegations that Gabriel had ownership rights to numerous Qualcomm patents relating to GPS technologies. Gabriel sought $1 billion in damages. Several of Gabriel’s claims were dismissed early in the litigation, and the court recently granted Qualcomm summary judgment on the remaining claims. According to a statement by Qualcomm, the court noted in its order that it warned Gabriel early on in the proceedings that the claims lacked merit, but Gabriel pursued the litigation for an extended period of time without being able to remedy basic deficiencies, such as the inability to name alleged inventors to support claims of inventorship or identify trade secrets to support claims of misappropriation.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman to
Speak at Feb. 28 Seminar in San Diego

Deborah Hersman

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman will speak at the Employer Cell Phone Policy Seminar on Feb. 28 at the San Diego Convention Center. More than 150 employers from a variety of industries across California are expected to attend the free seminar to learn how cell phone policies keep employees and the driving public safe and decrease employers’ risk of liability. Hersman implemented a complete ban of cell phone use while driving – handheld and hands-free – for all NTSB employees upon being named chairman in 2009. “NTSB has made curbing distracted driving one of its top priorities, and Chairman Hersman has led the charge,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO at NSC. “Under her direction, NTSB has investigated several cell phone-related crashes, including some cases where employers were held liable.”

Cal State San Marcos Professor Receives
$25,000 Grant for the DREAM Institute

Merryl Goldberg

Merryl Goldberg, professor of music and chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at California State University San Marcos, has been awarded a $25,000 grant as a finalist for the 2012 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. The Leadership Award aims to uncover and spotlight breakthrough solutions that have the potential to better the lives of more Californians if policymakers and others replicate and expand these approaches. Goldberg was the project artistic director of DREAM a four-year arts integration program funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Proceeds from the grant will go toward supporting another three-day DREAM Institute for third and fourth-grade teachers this June.

Best Best & Krieger Appoints Law Enforcement Specialist

Paul Cappitelli

Paul Cappitelli, the former head of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training and a retired captain of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, has joined Best Best & Krieger as a law enforcement specialist. A 29-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, Cappitelli will work with a team of attorneys from the firm’s nine offices across California and in Washington, D.C., who focus on law enforcement issues. Cappitelli will be based in the firm’s San Diego office. He retired from the state commission in December after five years at the agency.

San Diego Foundation Names Chief Financial Officer

Leslie Levinson has joined The San Diego Foundation as vice president, chief financial officer. Levinson previously was executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for six years at Pierce Education Properties, a real estate investment and development firm serving educational institutions and communities. She also served as chief financial officer for nine years at the San Diego State University Research Foundation. She also was chief financial officer and senior vice president at Flagship Bank FSB.


ID Studios Inc. Selects Associate Principal

Steven Davis has been promoted to associate principal at ID Studios Inc. in Solana Beach. Davis will have a newly added responsibility as the firm’s technical director.  He has been at ID Studios for five years and brings over 25 years experience on a variety of corporate interiors and retail architecture projects. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University.

Michael Stepner to Receive Crystal Globe Award

Michael Stepner at Horton Plaza

Michael Stepner, faculty member of NewSchool of Architecture and Design, is receiving the Crystal Globe Award from the San Diego chapter of Lambda Alpha International, an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. Stepner is being recognized for his more than 30 years of leading, managing and participating in comprehensive planning programs and the development of public policy in San Diego, and for his role as an educator. The award will be formally presented to Stepner at the LAI installation dinner and Crystal Globe Award event Feb. 7. Stepner has taught at NSAD since the mid-1980s, and he served as dean from 1998 to 2001.

Scripps Research Institute Scientists
Find A Key Element of Lupus Disease

Argyrios Theofilopoulos

A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute has identified specific cellular events that appear key to lupus, a debilitating autoimmune disease that afflicts tens of millions of people worldwide. The findings suggest that blocking this pathway in lupus-triggering cells could be a potent weapon against the disease. In the new study, described in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers determined that the absence of a certain type of immune cell, or of a key signaling molecule within the cell, greatly reduces the development of autoimmunity in mouse models of lupus. Mice with these protective changes showed little impairment of their normal immune functions. “We are excited about the potential of such an inhibitor as a new kind of treatment for lupus, as well as other autoimmune conditions,” said Argyrios N. Theofilopoulos, chair of the institute’s Department of Immunology and Microbial Science and a senior author of the new study.

Second Chance Seeks $40,000 for New Computers

Second Chance, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization that provides job readiness training programs, is asking the community for $40,000 in donations for the purchase of 68 new computers that will serve both clients and staff in the Second Chance offices. The new computers will enable Second Chance clients to improve computer skills, find employment opportunities and submit resumes, and enable Second Chance staff to correspond with the community, submit grant applications and advocate on behalf of those in need, including low-income and at-risk youth and adults. Second Chance Executive Director Robert Coleman said current computers are slow, outdated and lack the technology clients and staff need. To makea donation, call (619) 839-0950.


The Daily Business Report is produced by SD METRO. 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: