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Daily Business Report-March 12, 2014

Daily Business Report-March 12, 2014

Lighting up the walls of the museums lining El Prado in Balboa Park, as shown in this rendering, had been under consideration for the 2015 centennial celebration.

Documents Show Balboa Park Centennial

Planning Committee Spent $2.6 Million

The group, according to other reports, accomplished virtually nothing

The disbanding organization that sought to put on a yearlong extravaganza to celebrate next year’s 100th birthday of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park released financial documents Monday showing it received more than $3 million in revenue and spent $2.6 million, City News Service reports.

Balboa Park Centennial Inc. posted the documents on its website,, in response to numerous requests for information on how public funds were dispersed. The organization went through several CEOs and event producers before turning the reins of the celebration back to the city last week.

BPCI retained consultant Gerry Braun to wind down its activities and compile reports.

“BPCI asked its accountants to prepare this document so San Diegans have accurate and current information regarding BPCI’s financial activities and expenses,” Braun said. “This is the beginning of a comprehensive disclosure process.”

Last week, co-chairs Ben and Nikki Clay said there is no adequate private funding needed” to have “the yearlong celebration of global significance that had been envisioned.”

According to news reports, BPCI missed key deadlines, brushed off community groups that wanted to be involved and exaggerated in funding applications about having “key partnerships” that didn’t exist.

According to the financial documents, the organization received $1.26 million from the city of San Diego’s Major Events Revolving Fund; nearly $910,000 from the Tourism Marketing District — a quasi-independent corporation that distributes funds to promote San Diego as a tourist destination; $375,000 from the city’s Arts & Culture Commission; and $40,000 from the county of San Diego. In addition, nearly $488,000 was received from nine private donors — individuals and organizations — that were not named.

The largest chunks of money were spent to pay programming producers and consultants, and BPCI leaders. Among them, according to the report:

• More than $467,000 to Autonomy Inc.

• Nearly $464,000 to Loma Media Partners,which handled marketing efforts.

• More than $131,500 to J&S Silverman Consulting.

• Nearly $182,000 to Mike McDowell.

• More than $135,700 to Julie Dubick.

• More than $123,500 to Mark Germyn.


home sales

San Diego County Home Sales Drop

San Diego County home sales dropped to the lowest level for a February in six years as many would-be buyers struggled with inventory constraints, credit hurdles and reduced affordability, DataQuick reported today.

Home sales in February in the county totaled 2,541 — down 8.6 percent from 2,779 recorded in February 2013.

The median home price in the county for February was $410,000 — up from $359,000 in February 2013.

Southland Totals:

A total of 14,027 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 3.1 percent from 14,471 in January, and down 12.0 percent from 15,945 sales in February 2013, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

On average, sales have increased 0.7 percent between January and February since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin. February sales have ranged from a low of 10,777 in 2008 to a high of 26,587 in 2004.

Last month’s Southland sales were 20.1 percent below the average number of sales – 17,560 – for February since 1988. Sales haven’t been above average for any particular month in more than seven years.

“February was another month with lackluster home sales, and the fifth in a row where sales fell short of the same month a year earlier,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president. “The March-through-May data will give us a better sense of what’s been holding back activity the most — supply constraints or the double-whammy of higher prices and higher mortgage rates. The drop in housing affordability is enough to nudge some out of the market. Other would-be buyers have no doubt called ‘time out’ while re-evaluating their housing priorities, or watching for signs the market has overshot a sustainable price level.”

“But there’s still reason to expect significant pressure on the market,” Walsh added. “The economy is growing, creating jobs. People who lost homes to a short sale or foreclosure over the last eight years will be looking to buy again. On the supply side, inventory is increasing, as it normally does this time of year, but so far there hasn’t been an explosion of new listings, and new-home construction is still well below average.”

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the six-county region last month was $383,000, up 0.8 percent from $380,000 in January and up 19.7 percent from $320,000 in February 2013.

The Southland’s median price held at or near $385,000 between last June and November, then rose to $395,000 in December, which was the peak for 2013 and the highest for any month since February 2008, when it was $408,000.

The median sale price has risen on a year-over-year basis for 23 consecutive months. Those gains have been double-digit – between 10.8 percent and 28.3 percent – over the past 19 months. The February median stood 24.2 percent below the peak $505,000 median in spring/summer 2007.

Foreclosure resales — homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months –accounted for 6.8 percent of the Southland resale market in February. That was up slightly from 6.6 percent the prior month and was down from 16.2 percent a year earlier. In recent months the foreclosure resale rate has been the lowest since early 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009.

Short sales — transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property — made up an estimated 9.4 percent of Southland resales last month. That was down from a revised 11.0 percent the prior month and down from 22.4 percent a year earlier.


AT&T Invests $725 Million Over Three Years to Enhance San Diego Networks

AT&T is making improvements to its San Diego network. From 2011 to 2013 the company has invested more than $725 million, which includes upgrades to its local wired and wireless networks. This is part of a statewide effort to upgrade service for customers. So far, the company said it has made 178 network upgrades throughout San Diego, including new cell sites, additional wireless and wired networks, and new broadband network connections. The company competes with seven other major competitors in the wired and wireless space in San Diego County.

Notable San Diego network enhancements in 2013 included:

• Activation of new 4G LTE cell sites throughout San Diego County to enhance coverage for area residents and businesses and which is capable of providing speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G.

• Major capacity expansion in Downtown San Diego to improve the wireless experience for local residents and thousands of special event attendees.


Rendering of planned Golden Hill row homes

Rendering of planned Golden Hill row homes

$24 Million Row Home Project Slated for Golden Hill

LIV Capital Group announced Tuesday that it is ready to build the first phase of a $24 million, 33-unit row home project in Golden Hill. The initial phase includes the construction of the first 20 units to be completed in the fall of this year. The remaining 13 units will be completed in the spring of 2015.

Another view

Another view

The homes will include triple pane windows and range from 1,587 to 2,293 square feet. The development is located between 28th and 29th Streets and B and C Streets in Golden Hill.

Using the “crowdfunding” method, LIV Capital Group empowers individuals to pool their money with other like-minded people to invest in a local real estate project, the company said. “We believe that people at every income level should have the ability to invest in real estate, and have the option of selecting their individual opportunities to own local properties,” said Richard Montaño, chief executive officer for LIV Capital Group.

Information on the Golden Hill project is available online at

• Developer: LIV Capital Group

• Architecture firm: Hawkins and Hawkins Architecture

• Lender: Presidio Capital

• General Contractor: Mihos Construction

County Boosting Oversight of Elder Care Homes

San Diego County officials acted Tuesday to improve the level of care and oversight at nursing homes and other elder care facilities in the wake of troubling reports of poor supervision and treatment. The Board of Supervisors voted to back a package of initiatives that include the expansion of a patient advocacy program, creation of a special prosecution unit and the development of a seal or grading system for residential care homes.

“While many assisted living homes and skilled nursing facilities do right by our elderly, others are a source of shame,” said board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob. “The conditions at some homes are deplorable. There’s not enough staff training. There’s not enough supervision. There’s not enough state oversight. And when the state does act, the penalties lack punch.”

A series of watchdog reports in U-T San Diego and other media outlets documented disturbing gaps in treatment and supervision, leading in some cases to serious illness and even death.

“We can’t wait for the state to take action, not when vulnerable people are at risk,” said Supervisor Greg Cox. “We need to take action at the local government level, right here, right now!”

Waterscape Creations Inc.’s work at the Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens

Waterscape Creations Inc.’s work at the Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens

Waterscape Creations Wins Statewide Award

FALLBROOK — Waterscape Creations Inc.’s work at the Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens has been judged the best water feature in California by the California Landscape Contractors Association. The award was for the Compass Garden and honors the best fountain, waterfall and/or pond. The judges said they were most impressed with the project’s placement of boulders.

“We used real boulders with some up to six feet in diameter to create a completely natural looking water feature. The end result was beautiful and I am glad that the judges agreed,” said Bob Jorgensen, owner of Waterscape Creations.

Waterscape Creations also was honored locally by the San Diego chapter of the CLCA with a first place award for the best water feature/commercial for the same project.

Addicts Stealing Prescription Drugs at Open Houses

prescription drugs

prescription drugs

Addicts have taken to targeting real estate open houses, pilfering through people’s medicine cabinets and night stands looking for prescription drugs, especially painkillers, county officials report. To curb the problem, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office, Mental Health Systems Inc., the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force and the Safe Homes Coalition launched a campaign Tuesday to help stop prescription drug misuse and abuse.

The Safe Homes Coalition– comprised of real estate agents, businesses, and nonprofit organizations — produced a public service announcement  that will air on local radio and television stations. The goal is to inform the public and the Realtor Association’s 24,000 members about prescription drug thefts at open houses and the need to use, secure and dispose of prescription drugs properly.

Real estate agents will also make plastic bags available to their clients and ask them to remove unneeded prescription drugs before an open house.

UC San Diego Professor Awarded $1.2 Million Grant

UC San Diego professor William Perry was awarded a $1.2 million grant by the University of California to help fund his team’s program focused on reducing the length and frequency of emergency room visits by psychiatric patients. The Patient-Centered Recovery Program was first started at UCSD Medical Center, and lowered the average emergency department length of stay of psychiatric patients by 12 percent and reduced return visits within one month by 15 percent. The grant funds will be used to setup the program at the four other UC-run hospitals.

UC San Diego Ranked Best in Nation for Neuroscience

The Geisel Library

The Geisel Library

UC San Diego was rated best in the nation for its graduate program in behavioral neurosciences, second in neuroscience and neurobiology, and third in cognitive psychology, biomedical engineering, and discrete mathematics and combinatorics, according to U.S. News &
World Report’s annual evaluation of the best graduate schools, released Tuesday. The latter discipline encompasses the structures of integers, graphs, and statements in logic, and the way they can be combined.

San Diego State University’s top graduate rankings were ninth in rehabilitation counseling, 25th in speech-language pathology, 26th in clinical psychology and 27th in audiology.

The University of San Diego ranked eighth in tax law and its part-time law school program was 17th.

UC San Diego’s graduate school specialty programs received some of the top scores from the publication across a wide variety of disciplines. The rankings included fourth in econometrics, fifth in international politics, seventh in plasma physics and multimedia/visual communications, eighth in alcohol/drug abuse and political science, and ninth in public finance.

Among business schools, UC San Diego ranked 60th and its part-time MBA program was 53rd; San Diego State’s was 87th with a 101st ranking for its part-time MBA. The University of San Diego’s business school was unranked overall, but the part-time MBA program was 94th.

In education, San Diego State was 74th, USD 86th and UC San Diego 98th. The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering ranked 14th overall, while San Diego State’s was 140th. — City News Service report

San Diego Has Second Lowest Vote-By-Mail Rate

Vote by Mail

Vote by Mail

While 56 percent of voters in the San Diego region voted by mail in the November 2012 general election, San Diego still has the second lowest vote-by-mail rate in California, a new UC Davis study found. According to the study, San Diego was behind only Los Angeles in its vote-by-mail rate.

The UC Davis data was released soon after Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez proposed a new bill, the “Voting Ought To Be Easy Act,” or VOTE Act, that would allow counties in California to conduct special elections entirely by mail. Mindy Romero, the study’s author, said she has no opinion on Gonzalez’s proposed law change, but cautioned that any new laws impacting how votes are cast should take data into consideration.

Read more…

GreatCall CEO to Receive Innovation Award

David Inns

David Inns

David Inns, CEO of GreatCall Inc., a San Diego-based company that creates a suite of health, safety and medical apps, will be honored at Thursday’s What’s Next Boomer Business Summit with an award for Innovation Leadership and Technology. The award will be given to Inns for the creation and development of a platform that “truly meets the needs of boomers, aging consumers and caregivers,” said Mary Furlong, CEO of Mary Furlong and Associates, the Summit’s organizers.

“David Inns and the platform he and his team have developed will support tomorrow’s model of health care delivery: the technology that enables aging consumers to live more independently,” said Furlong.

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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: