Daily Business Report-Jan. 23, 2014
San Diego ‘Jobs Tax’ Referendum Supporters
Submit 53,000 Signatures to Registrar of Voters
Opponents of the San Diego City Council’s increase of fees on commercial construction in San Diego said they turned in more than 53,000 signatures Wednesday to the county Registrar of Voters in a bid to get the action overturned, City News Service reports.
The 53,107 signatures were collected over 26 days in a campaign led by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Nearly 34,000 signatures need to be valid, after which the City Council would have to decide whether to repeal the hike or put the issue before voters. The action passed late last year on a pair of party-line 5-4 votes.
The fee, which provides funding for affordable housing projects, had been halved in 1996. The council voted to double the levy to where it had been, 1.5 percent of construction costs.
While the city’s overall fee on the total construction cost is doubling, opponents say some types of businesses would be charged increases of more than 700 percent, while making only a minimal impact on San Diego’s affordable housing shortage.
The city calls the fee a “Workforce Housing Offset,” while opponents label the increases a “jobs tax.”
The registrar has 30 days to count the signatures.
Toni Atkins Elected Speaker of the Assembly
Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins of San Diego has been chosen by her Assembly Democratic colleagues to succeed John A. Pérez as the
next Speaker of the Assembly. It will be the first time that a lawmaker from San Diego has held the speaker’s gavel. “I am humbled, grateful, and ready to get to work,” says Atkins, the first lesbian to hold the office. She becomes just the third female Speaker.
“From the drought we are experiencing to ensuring a healthy business climate and a world class educational system, California is facing important issues in the near future,” said Atkins. “ I look forward to leading the state Assembly in working with the Senate and the governor to meet our challenges and to move our great state forward.”
Atkins was elected to the Assembly in 2010 following eight years on the San Diego City Council.
Tourism Officials Unveil Costly Marketing Campaign
Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and the San Diego Tourism Authority unveiled the tourism group’s largest-ever marketing campaign on Wednesday. The campaign features a national television ad that will begin to air during this weekend’s Farmer’s Insurance Open golf tournament at the Torrey Pines Golf Course. The campaign also includes print and online ads.
San Diego Tourism Authority President Joe Terzi said the campaign will last six months. “We will be spending over $12 million in a six-month period of time, which is the largest amount of money we’ve ever spent,” Terzi said.
The funds for the campaign were put on hold under disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner, and subsequently released by Gloria. Gloria said attracting more tourist dollars helps the city pay for other needed services.
“More tourism money means more money flowing into our local economy, more tax revenues flowing into our city coffers to help pay for neighborhood improvements we all want. We all want more freshly paved roads, we want to hire more police officers, we want more library hours. Tourism is one of the ways we can accomplish that,” Gloria said.
The television ad running this weekend features Sea World, the USS Midway Museum and the San Diego Zoo.
— Reported by KPBS
Shire Sells Dermagraft to Organogenesis
Abandoning operations it purchased less than three years ago — and its ambitions of building a regenerative medicine powerhouse — Shire has sold its Dermagraft manufacturing plant in La Jolla, the U-T San Diego reports.
Purchaser Organogenesis, based in Canton, Mass., said it will continue making the wound-healing product in La Jolla, and retain an undetermined number of the plant’s nearly 600 employees.
Under terms of the deal, announced Friday, Organogenesis agreed to pay Shire up to $300 million if Dermagraft sales meet certain goals by 2018. It will not pay any money upfront. Shire, based in Dublin, Ireland, said it will record a loss of $650 million for the sale.
Dermagraft, made of living human cells, is approved to treat diabetic foot ulcers. Organogenesis sells a similar product, Apligraf, approved to treat venous ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers.
The sale puts Dermagraft into the hands of its fifth owner since the product was approved in 2001. Dermagraft was developed by now-defunct Advanced Tissue Sciences, whose main competitor was Organogenesis. Both companies went bankrupt, but Organogenesis reorganized and today operates as a privately held company.
Former U-T Newspaper Carriers Awarded $10 Million
A judge awarded more than $6 million in attorneys’ fees in a class-action lawsuit against the San Diego Union-Tribune, after previously finding that a group of newspaper carriers were employees of the U-T and not independent contractors as the company had asserted. Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled Tuesday that the reasonable amount of attorneys’ fees to be awarded to the class counsel was $6.1 million, of which $1.25 million will be paid to the class, with the balance paid by the U-T, said plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel J. Callahan. The attorneys’ fees, coupled with $4.9 million the court awarded to the class last month as compensation for unreimbursed expenses, bring the total judgment to $10 million, he said.
— City News Service
New Partnership Gives High School Students
Career Opportunities in Health Care Field
High school students in underserved areas in San Diego County will have unprecedented access to the latest advancements and career opportunities in the medical field through a new partnership of UC San Diego Health Sciences and local high schools.
The program, High School Health Academies, will provide students in Southeast San Diego and South Bay with education and workforce development courses, providing them with invaluable insights into the ever-changing health care landscape.
As part of the partnership, UC San Diego Health Sciences will provide each school participating in the program with $10,000 annually in financial support. Students and teachers will benefit from presentations by UC San Diego Health Sciences and Health System staff, including researchers, physicians, pharmacists, nurses and health care technical positions, as well as hospital facility and business management professionals. Students will be able to explore areas of interest while gaining professional experience through tours of UC San Diego Health Sciences’ facilities, hands-on activities and internships.
City Eases Parking Enforcement in Downtown Zone
Residents and visitors to one area of Downtown San Diego will soon see changes to local parking meter enforcement designed to improve the parking management and increase turnover for local businesses. Meters in the Hospitality Zone — the area bounded by Broadway on the north, Seventh Avenue to the east, Harbor Drive to the south and 1st Avenue to th west — will be enforced between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., rather than from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The changes were proposed by Civic San Diego in its role as the advisory board for the Downtown Community Parking District.
The city of San Diego is posting notices of the enforcement changes this week, and a grace period is in effect as the transition occurs. People in violation of the new regulations through Feb. 28 will receive warning notices; fines will be issued to violators starting March 3.
New Child Development Center to Benefit Military Families
Naval Base San Diego officials held groundbreaking ceremonies Wednesday for an additional child development center at Santo and Patriot roads in the Murphy Canyon area. When completed, the 13,000-square-foot center will provide more child care opportunities for military families. The center will have six classrooms that will support 114 children, a playground, drop-off parking, pedestrian walkways and service access. K.O.O. Construction was awarded a $5.6 million contract for the construction. Capt. Curt Jones, commanding officer of Naval Base San Diego, and Keith Odister, COO of K.O.O. Construction, were among officials at the ceremony.
Water Conservation Garden Hires New Director
The Water Conservation Garden has hired a new director of horticulture and exhibits who will begin his new role on Feb. 17. Clayton Tschudy assumes the position with a blend of skills in botanical and environmental biology; design and delivery of water-wise and native landscaping education; and over 10 years of experience as a landscape designer/contractor. Having studied biology at Humboldt State University with an emphasis in California botany, Tschudy is particularly knowledgeable about California’s plant diversity and the unique characteristics of southern California’s ecology.
Airport Authority to Present Art & Culture Symposium
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority will present an art and culture symposium called “Aesthetics & Authenticity” March 7–9 at the New Central Library in Downtown San Diego. The symposium will present different perspectives on the authenticity of place and how art, design and culture play a significant role in the infrastructure of cities and regions. The symposium will include seven sessions addressing how intentional planning and implementation of art and culture on a civic scale positively impacts how we live and how we experience our communities.
On Friday, March 7, the event will open with a pre-symposium art and architecture tour of the airport’s newly expanded Terminal 2, followed by a reception. On Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9, the symposium will present informative sessions with emerging and international visual artists, civic leaders and cultural enthusiasts.
The cost to attend the symposium is $65.
Energy-Efficient Home Open For Tours
San Diegans can visit a 1960s tract house in Clairemont Mesa that demonstrates the benefits of installing energy upgrades on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. during a free home tour. arranged by the San Diego-based Center for Sustainable Energy. The demonstration house, located at 3143 Via Arcilla, shows how energy improvements can make homes more comfortable, safer and energy efficient through the Energy Upgrade California™ Home Upgrade program. Visitors can meet the owner to hear about the advantages of installing upgrades and speak with energy efficiency experts about opportunities for their homes.
Homeowner Mark Remy is very pleased with how the upgrades transformed his house. “When I moved in, it was like camping out. In the winter, I could see my breath in the morning,” Remy said. “I felt an immediate difference the day the air sealing was done and insulation was installed. Now, temperatures in my house are much more consistent.”
Energy-efficiency upgrades at the featured home include whole-house air sealing and insulation of the attic, crawlspace and walls; dual-pane sliding doors and windows; lighting upgrades; and Energy Star appliances. The homeowner also installed drought-resistant landscaping.
The Home Upgrade program involves a “whole house” approach to test, diagnose and fix health and safety issue and deficiencies in building leakage, insulation, heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters, appliances and lighting that waste energy. The program provides rebates to help pay for the upgrades.
For more information, contact Bob Coleman at CCSE at (858) 737-1583 or visit www.energycenter.org/homeupgrade.