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Daily Business Report-June 28, 2013

Daily Business Report-June 28, 2013

Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama has a new surface — and no cars — in a pedestrian-only experiment completed this week. A city photographer captured this aerial view from a police helicopter.

Car-Free Plaza de Panama

Ready for Strolling

The overhead photo snapped from a police helicopter looks like an architect’s model. But the cream-colored surface in Balboa Park’s central Plaza de Panama — free of cars, parking spaces, traffic cones and signs — is the real thing, thanks to an instant makeover ordered earlier this month by Mayor Bob Filner, U-T San Diego reports.

The idea, a dream for decades, was to turn the 1.5-acre square into a pedestrian-only place. Numerous plans had called for this makeover, most recently a $45 million grander vision by Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs. But when a court vetoed the Jacobs plan and Filner was elected, a simpler, $300,000 scheme was cobbled together and the first phase was completed this week. City spokesman Bill Harris said the last action was painting cross walks across a new traffic loop linking El Prado to Pan American Road. “In the next few weeks we’re going to watch and see how the public uses the space,” he said.

Read more …

Assembly Sends Jerry Brown Enterprise Zone Revamp

Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to restructure an enterprise zone program of hiring tax credits that has been criticized as wasteful and ineffective passed Thursday with a 54-17 approval in the Assembly, the Sacramento Bee reports. The lower house sent the Democratic governor Assembly Bill 93, which cleared the Senate late Tuesday night. “This is a big bipartisan win for California businesses and working people,” Brown said in a statement. “AB 93 will help grow our economy and create good manufacturing jobs.”

Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

AB 93 targets an economic development program that Brown initially tried to kill in 2011. Lobbying has been intense over enterprise zones, supported by business groups and local communities. Meant to stimulate job creation in areas of high poverty and unemployment, the enterprise zone program has been criticized for, among other things, giving tax breaks to strip clubs and allowing firms to claim tax credits for hiring decisions made years earlier. AB 93 would overhaul the enterprise zone program and redirect about $750 million in business tax breaks.

The measure largely would retain the geographic boundaries of existing enterprise zones but significantly tighten and scale back hiring credits.

Hiring credits would be available only to employers paying at least 150 percent of the state’s minimum wage. Temporary worker agencies, bars, retailers and restaurants would be excluded — with the exception of qualified small businesses.

New programs proposed by AB 93 include a sales tax exemption for manufacturing and bioresearch companies, and a program of tax credits next year negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the state — totaling up to $30 million next year and rising to $200 million in 2015-16.

San Diego County Property Values Up 3 Percent

Del Mar had the highest growth with an increase of 6.82 percent

San Diego County Assessor Ernie Dronenburg announced Thursday that the 2013 assessed value of all taxable property has increased by more than 3 percent (or $13.6 billion) from last year. The property was valued as of Jan. 1, 2013. This year’s total assessed value is $408.8 billion. After deducting tax exempt properties (charitable, homeowners, disabled etc.) the net assessed value is $393 billion and based on a 1 percent tax rate it would produce approximately $3.9 billion in property taxes.

“The residential real estate market improved in the last six months of 2012,” Dronenburg said. “The improved residential market required our office to partially or totally restore temporarily reduced values as the market value on many properties exceeded the values calculated pursuant to Prop 13. In addition, we experienced positive change in ownership and new construction activity.”

Del Mar had the highest growth with an increase of 6.82 percent. See chart at the bottom for valuations of each city in the county.

Highway 101 work

Highway 101 West Side Improvements Near Completion in Solana Beach

Nasland Engineering has completed civil engineering design services for the Highway 101 West Side Improvements in the city of Solana Beach. The one-mile long, $7 million project is 95 percent complete and includes widened sidewalks, landscaping medians, angular parking and a sharrow for bicycle riding. Drought‐tolerant, native landscaping was planted in the newly designed medians and pedestrian nodes. Eleven public gathering spaces have been created along the corridor with a variety of furniture, art, lighting to create a more walkable corridor. The number of trees has more than doubled to 77 along the mile‐long streetscape. Nasland’s design team is led by Larry Thornburgh as project manager. The general contractor is Dick Miller Inc.

Water Authority Board Adopts Two-Year Budget and Approves 2014 Rates

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday approved wholesale water rates for calendar year 2014 and adopted a $1.5 billion budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The new two-year budget is 5.2 percent larger than the current budget, mostly to cover higher costs for the purchase and treatment of imported water. Wholesale rates that the Water Authority charges its 24 member agencies next year will increase by 2.6 percent for untreated supplies and 3.5 percent for treated supplies. Next year, the Water Authority will charge its member agencies an “all-in” rate of $1,029 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $26 more than they currently pay, and $1,303 per acre-foot for treated water, or $44 more than in 2013.  An acre-foot is about 325,900 gallons, enough to serve two typical four-person households in San Diego County for a year.

Scripps Research Institute Professor Awarded $3.75 Million Grant from Russian Government

Valery Fokin

Valery Fokin

Valery Fokin, professor in the Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute, has been awarded a three-year, $3.75 million grant from the Russian government to establish a laboratory at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Fokin will assemble a team of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff scientists to work at the newly established laboratory on the development of new chemical transformations and their use in studies of biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of inflammation, cancer and immune diseases.

“With the support of this grant and administrations of both institutes, I am hoping that our work will benefit from synergies and will result in mutually beneficial collaborations between Scripps and Russian scientists and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, leading to new technologies and products in both nations,” said Fokin.

USD Names New College of Arts and Sciences Dean

Noelle Norton

Noelle Norton

The University of San Diego has announced the appointment of Noelle Norton as the new College of Arts and Sciences Dean. Norton, who is taking over for Mary Boyd, is a political science and international relations professor and has served in numerous other roles since joining the university in 1994. Some of those roles include previously serving as associate dean for faculty, as the co-director of the Living Learning Communities program, and as USD Honors Program director. Mary Boyd commented on her successor, saying that “Noelle has proven her ability to lead, inspire and collaborate with the USD community. I am confident that she is going to be a wonderful advocate and steward for the College of Arts and Sciences.”

Volunteer Lawyer Program Announces 2013 Award Winners

The San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program announced the winners of its 2013 awards program.

• Pro Bono Publico Award: Ben Wagner. The award honors a San Diego attorney who has selflessly provided legal services on behalf of SDVLP.  Wagner is a litigation associate with Mintz Levin who dedicates his time and pro bono services to domestic violence victims.

• Sustaining Justice Award: DLA Piper LLP. The award honors a San Diego law firm that has provided on-going extensive support to SDVLP over the years through its provision of pro bono legal services and financial support.

• Exemplary Service Award: Melissa Blackburn-Joniaux. Honors an individual who has volunteered extensively with SDVLP. Blackburn-Joniaux, of the Law Offices of Melissa Blackburn-Joniaux, has helped organize SDVLP’s Women’s Resource Fair every year since its inception 24 years ago, in a variety of roles.

• Access to Justice Awards: Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge; Cohelan, Khoury & Singer; and Hanson Law Firm. The award honors law firms that have directed significant, special financial support to SDVLP.

The recipients will be honored at SDVLP’s annual Justice For All Celebration on Sept. 19 at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. Doors open at 5:45 p.m., with the award program beginning at 7 p.m.


Cities’ Assessed Valuations

Cities Assessed Value


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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: