Daily Business Report-Sept. 23, 2013
A rendering of the plan for a temporary urban park in the East Village.
Students’ Dream for Temporary
Urban Park is Moving Forward
One day last March, a group of architecture students told Mayor Bob Filner about their idea to turn a vacant parking lot in the East Village into an urban park. The team, now recent graduates from NewSchool of Architecture and Design, want to build an urban park at Market Street and Park Boulevard with a beer garden, farmers markets, event space and a dog run. Instead of buying the land for their park, they want to temporarily lease it from the city. They took their idea to Mayor Bob Filner’s Meet the Mayor sessions, and Filner liked it. He introduced the team to Civic San Diego, the nonprofit created to replace the city’s dissolved redevelopment agency.
Philip Auchettl, one member of the team, says that was enough to keep the project going after Filner resigned. He says they’re now working with Interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s office, and that Civic San Diego and the city attorney are writing a two-year lease (with a one-year extension) for the space. Once the lease is ready, Auchettl says the restaurant and event management company Best Beverage Catering wants to become a tenant, and would set up a beer garden and bring events to the space.
“Instead of just having these empty lots Downtown, how can we actually do something with them and make them pedestrian friendly and inviting to the public,” said Auchettl.
Right now, the team is trying to raise $60,000 through the website Kickstarter to pay for permits and site improvements. Auchettl said that won’t pay for the whole project, but they have lined up an investor to help cover the rest. “We see it as an opportunity for the East Village to actually get involved, be a part of something that can be much for exciting than a vacant, blighted, empty piece of land,” he said.
The team hopes to start construction on the park in November, and wants a grand opening in December.
— Reported by Claire Tageser, KPBS
New San Diego Hires Expected to Help
Clear Veterans’ Backlogged Claim
The California Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday that it is hiring a dozen staffers for its San Diego office to help reduce a backlog of claims that have kept some veterans waiting nearly two years, City News Service reports.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, nearly 23,000 San Diego veterans are waiting for their disability claims to be processed. The new hires were authorized by Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 budget.
Claims representatives will review claims pending for 125 days or longer and work to make them fully developed and ready for VA rating. Once a claim has been adjudicated and a disability rating has been assigned, compensation or pension payments can be properly calculated and sent out to the veteran, according to the VA.
CalVet Secretary Peter J. Gravett said that by immediately reviewing claims that have been pending the longest and working forward, “we will reduce the waiting time veterans have had to face.”
To date, 14 of 36 positions authorized statewide, including a dozen in Los Angeles, have been filled, according to the VA.
The Department of Veterans Affairs said the backlog nationally has reached 584,308 claims that have been pending for 125 days or more. About 873,680 veterans have filed claims and that number continues to grow.
Court Denies Metropolitan Water District Motion
A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Friday rejected an attempt by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to exempt its water rates from a voter-approved measure designed to protect ratepayers from hidden taxes. Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow ruled that MWD’s rates for 2013 and 2014 may be subject to Proposition 26, passed by voters in November 2010. It requires government agencies to show that the rates they charge do not exceed the cost of the services being provided. In his order denying MWD’s motion to kick Proposition 26 out of the case, Karnow said he will decide whether MWD’s rates must comply with Proposition 26 when the case goes to trial on Dec. 17.
Solar Modules Built in San Diego to be Used
In Demonstration Plant in the Mojave Desert
Soitec, a French semiconductor manufacturer, has contracted with the U.S. Defense Department to build a solar demonstration project at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert using solar modules from its San Diego plant. The demonstration power plant will provide power to the Ft. Irwin military facility, which is home to the National Training Center and has a daily population of nearly 25,000. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2014. The company said the photovoltaic solar power plant will offset the emission of almost 1,850 tons of carbon dioxide each year. “This project will allow the Department of Defense to showcase Soitec’s CPV technology, demonstrating future government applications consistent with the goals of improving energy security and expanding the development of renewable energy,” said Clark Crawford, a Soitec vice president. “Our technology is perfectly suited for desert locations as it shows almost no degradation even under very harsh environmental conditions.”
UC San Diego Receives $6 Million Bequest From
Cubic Corp. Founder Walter Zable and Betty Zable
The UC San Diego Foundation has received a $6.05 million bequest from the late Cubic Corp. founder Walter J. Zable and his wife, Betty C. Zable. The gift is to support endowed faculty chairs at the Rady School of Management and the Jacobs School of Engineering, create a scholarship and fellowship for students and to provide funds for the Shiley Eye Center. Walter Zable, who died in June 2012 at the age of 97, founded Cubic Corp. in 1951 and served until his death as chief executive, chairman and president of the public corporation that provides military defense equipment and automated fare collection equipment. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, in 2007.
“The Zable family has been great supporters of the San Diego community, and especially of UC San Diego,” said Robert Sullivan, dean of the Rady School of Management. “This endowed chair will enable the Rady School to attract the very best faculty — especially those who excel at innovation and technology management, which were topics of great interest to Walter J. Zable.”