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Daily Business Report-June 4, 2013

Daily Business Report-June 4, 2013

Plaza de Panama is at far left

Plaza de Panama Remodel Would Come After 2015 if Appeal Works

By Kelly Bennett | Voice of San Diego

The impetus for a plan to remake Balboa Park’s western entrance was the impending centennial celebration in 2015.

A judge’s ruling this year seemed to doom that plan: Even if proponents appealed, there’d be no way to construct the new features in the park in time for the expected celebrations.

But today, one of the chief consultants on the Plaza de Panama plan, Gordon Kovtun, said the committee’s decision to appeal (announced this weekend) is not connected to the 2015 timing.

“Right now our focus is on the appeal and we’re not anticipating to start the Plaza de Panama project prior to the Centennial,” Kovtun said.

The plan, led and largely bankrolled by philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, would rid park plazas of cars and parking and build a new parking garage behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. In February, Judge Tim Taylor ruled that the city erred in approving the project last July.

We had a few questions about the announcement and the news in the U-T, so we asked Kovtun of KCM Group, a construction management company.

What would be your ideal timeline for this process?

I understand that appeals take between one to two years but clearly the hope is for a prompt resolution.

When the judge announced his decision, city sentiment seemed to be that any appeal would be too complicated because of the 2015 deadline. How would constructing the plan affect planned 2015 celebrations?

The Plaza de Panama project is not dependent on the 2015 Centennial Celebration.

When did you decide to appeal?

The Plaza de Panama Committee and its supporters have always disagreed with the ruling but the appeal was filed on May 24.

What will Irwin Jacobs’ involvement (financial or otherwise) be going forward?

I cannot speak for Irwin Jacobs involvement but perhaps that is a question best asked after the outcome of the appeal is known.

Should you win your appeal, how do you plan to deal with any opposition from SOHO, the mayor or others?

The appeal should remove the last roadblock from a project like this.


In response to the Plaza de Panama Committee’s filing of an appeal, SOHO announced that it filed a cross-appeal. It said that it supports Mayor Bob Filner’s previously announced plans to remove parking from the Plaza de Panama.

City Attorney: Mayor Acted Beyond Powers

Mayor Bob Filner acted beyond his legal powers in March when he ordered a halt to work on an apartment complex in the College area, according to a legal opinion on Monday by the City Attorney’s Office, the U-T San Diego reports. The opinion noted the project had already received the necessary city approvals. The mixed-use project, being built by Centrepoint at 63rd Street and El Cajon Boulevard, calls for 332 units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space. After it was approved, neighbors complained to Filner and City Councilwoman Marti Emerald that the building was going to be used as a dormitory rather than an apartment complex, with rents paid by the bed rather than by the unit. Read more….


Myrtle Cole Sworn In as Newest Member of the San Diego City Council

Myrtle Cole

Myrtle Cole

Myrtle Cole was sworn into office Monday, filling a five-month vacancy on the nine-member San Diego City Council. Cole, a labor coordinator and former community college police lieutenant, defeated longtime community activist Dwayne Crenshaw in a special runoff election last month, earning 54 percent of the vote. She filled the seat once held by Tony Young, who resigned at the beginning of the year to become CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties chapter of the American Red Cross. Cole is expected to provide Mayor Bob Filner with an ally in the city’s legislative branch and give Democrats a 5-4 majority on the technically nonpartisan body.  Council President Todd Gloria proposed to appoint her to the panel’s Infrastructure, Land Use and Housing, and Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committees.

Grossmont College Instructor Leads California Community Colleges Academic Senate

Beth Smith

Beth Smith

Beth Smith, a mathematics instructor at Grossmont College, is the incoming president of the California Community Colleges Academic Senate, a position in which she will represent 50,000 faculty members in 112 community colleges serving 2.5 million students. Smith is on paid leave from Grossmont College as she helps her colleagues initiate or respond to legislation and policy dealing with the community colleges.  Supportive of her efforts, Grossmont College pays her full salary, even though her constant duties in Sacramento preclude teaching in the classroom. Out of a separate budget, the statewide Academic Senate reimburses Grossmont College the cost of part-time instructors to teach Smith’s mathematics courses.

 “Beth has been actively engaged in working with Academic Senate issues at the state level since 200,” said Grossmont College President Sunita V. Cooke. “She is an excellent communicator and has been conveying information to and from our college throughout those years.”

George Chandler Leadership Award to be Presented to Gunnar Schalin

The U.S. Small Business Administration-San Diego District Office will present Gunnar Schalin, director of the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center since 1998, with the George Chandler Leadership Award on June 12 at the Scottish Rite Event Center during its Small Business Week Awards celebration. Schalin is being recognized for his commitment and leadership to the small business community. The award was created to honor the memory of long-time SBA District Director George Chandler, who is deceased. Before his association with the Contracting Opportunities Center, Schalin served in executive capacities for small businesses in both the software and bio-technology industries. The Small Business Awards Luncheon & Conference is sponsored by SBA and the San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Centers Regional Network.

Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of GROW Elect and the former head of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, will be given the SBA Community Service Award.

Researchers Develop New Technique to Dampen Harmful Immune Responses

A team from Scripps Research Institute has demonstrated a new technique that may lead to a better way to selectively repress unwanted human immune reactions without disabling the immune system as a whole. The human immune system is remarkably efficient, but sometimes its attack is misdirected, leading to allergies, autoimmune diseases and rejection of transplant organs and therapeutic drugs. The team, led by James Paulson, chair of  the institute’s Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, developed the new method.

Federal Contracts

BAE Systems

BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair Inc. of San Diego was awarded an $8,970,338 federal contract modification by the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, San Diego, for planning and execution of depot-level maintenance, alterations and modifications that will update and improve the ship’s military and technical capabilities.


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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: