Daily Business Report-Oct. 29, 2013
San Diego City Hall
Council Approves Plan to Streamline City Government
The San Diego City Council on Monday approved a plan that will streamline the city’s government, making it more efficient and accountable and helping the 10,000-employee operation run as smoothly as possible. The plan, brought forward by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, will cost roughly $1 million a year. It will create three new executive management positions, bringing the city’s total to six — on par with cities such as San Jose and Dallas. As is stands, San Diego has only three such managers to oversee its sprawling operations — every imaginable public service from water treatment to library operations to development permitting to street repairs to managing the city’s finances.
The plan will also create a new Department of Planning, Neighborhoods and Economic Development, which Gloria said would enable the city to think and act on a broader and longer-range scale about issues of development and growth. The department will include several new features, including a Civic Innovation Lab charged with identifying and road-testing innovative ideas about urban design and civic engagement.
The plan calls for hiring a national expert — Stephen Goldsmith — to study the entire city operation, looking for was ways to run things better and to save money.
“The end result will be a government that runs more smoothly, responds more quickly to the public and spends taxpayer money as wisely as possible,” Gloria said. “This isn’t a radical overhaul but rather a series of strategic, common-sense tweaks.”
Living Coast Discovery Center Meets Funding Goal
Closure of the zoo and aquarium averted
The Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista said it has successfully filled the $200,000 funding gap that threatened its closure. As a result of an outpouring of community support, the center has received a total of $401,064 in donations, nearly twice its goal, from private donors, foundations and local businesses over the last several weeks.
“The community’s response to our financial situation has been completely overwhelming,” said Chief Operating Officer Ben Vallejos. “So many people and organizations have stepped up to say that this is a resource that is vitally important to the San Diego community and is worth supporting.”
With the funds that have now been raised, the center has canceled its phased closing plan, effective immediately. There will be no disruption in access to the center, which will continue to be open to the public seven days a week, 363 days a year.
New Policy Would Change How Infrastructure Money is Prioritized
Downtown San Diego and beach communities saw the most money for parks last year, and that’s not including funds for Balboa Park and Mission Bay. Now, the City Council is taking up a measure that could spread the money more equitably, KPBS reports. The measure changes the grading system planners use to prioritize projects like parks, fire stations and libraries. It adds weight to those projects that advance social equity and are in underserved communities.
Center on Policy Initiatives program and policy director Christie Hill said the new policy is encouraging for older communities south of the Interstate 8. But she said funding remains an issue. “If a project doesn’t have the funds available but has a high score, then yeah, that project might not make it into the budget, but it’s important that we start somewhere,” Hill said. “This policy is a beginning. It’s a longer conversation that we expect to have in the coming months and years.”
The grading rubric for city project fast tracks those that have identified funding. Older communities typically have lower development fees to fuel economic growth, but the lower fees mean there is less money for community improvements.
Women’s Chorus Hires First Assistant Artistic Director
The San Diego Women’s Chorus announced the appointment of Kathleen Hansen as its first assistant artistic director. Hansen will work alongside Artistic Director Christopher Allen, and will make her debut with the chorus at its winter concert, “Light Up the World,” on Dec. 7-8. Hansen has been working in the field of music education since 1998 with students of all ages. She holds a bachelor’s degreee and a master’s degree in music. As a performer, she has had the opportunity play and sing on a diverse array of stages: from street courtyards and concert halls in Italy to San Diego’s Symphony Hall. Hansen currently serves as the director of the Sun Harbor Chorus, the North County Tremble Clefs and is the associate director of the San Diego Chorus of Sweet Adelines Intl.
Aztec Student Union Scheduled to Open in January
San Diego State University will “Welcome Home” the Aztec community with the grand opening of Aztec Student Union. The 206,000 square-foot “campus living room” will open in January 2014. The Associated Students of SDSU and university leaders are working together to welcome students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community to the new Union.
The spring 2014 grand opening semester will highlight several amenities, including a fitness center, state-of-the-art bowling and games center, Center for Leadership and Service, Center for Intercultural Relations, Commuter Resource Center and workspace for SDSU student organizations.
A variety of dining and retail options include Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, The Habit Burger Grill, Oggi’s Pizza Express, Aztec Market and STA Travel.
“Welcome Home” events will take place throughout the spring semester with student-focused events and tours during the first week of class in January. The Grand Dedication Week will be March 3-8 featuring daily themed celebrations including a Taste of the Union Day, Recreation and Wellness Day and Arts and Culture Day. Sustainability Day will be dedicated to highlighting the Union’s LEED Platinum design and sustainable living. The week will culminate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the community at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 7, followed by an open house and ticketed alumni dinner. The public is welcome to participate and tour the building.
Funding for the $104 million Student Union project comes entirely from SDSU student-approved fees. The new four-story Aztec Student Union is twice the size of the former Aztec Center, which was built in 1968 as the first permanent student union in the California State University system. The Union will serve as the campus hub for student life. Features of the Union include dining, retail space, lounges, meeting rooms, a multi-purpose ballroom, 300-seat theatre, outdoor courtyards, recreation activities and entertainment.
SDSU’s McMillin Center Names New Board Member
The College of Business Administration at San Diego State University announced today that Russ Sande, a managing principal of the San Diego office of Cresa, an international tenant representation firm, has accepted an invitation to become an advisory board member for the college’s Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate. “We are excited to have such a highly respected and accomplished commercial real estate professional join our organization,” said Dawn Eisenberg, director of the center. “As a native San Diegan, Russ has deep ties to the city, to San Diego State and to the local commercial real estate community. He is particularly interested in The Corky McMillin Center’s mentoring program.” Sande’s tenure on the board began on Oct. 15.