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Daily Business Report-March 5, 2014

Daily Business Report-March 5, 2014

Titan Aerospace’s Solara UAV is solar-powered and could remain in ‘atmospheric orbit’ for years at a time. Courtesy of Titan Aerospace.

Report: Facebook Looking into

Buying Drone Maker Titan Aerospace

Facebook, one of the primary backers of the initiative, which aims to bring affordable Internet access to the 5 billion people in the world who still lack connectivity, is in talks with a company that could help further that agenda, according to TechCrunch, a technology media company. It reports hearing that Facebook is buying Titan Aerospace, makers of near-orbital, solar-powered drones which can fly for five years without needing to land. According to a source with access to information about the deal, the price for this acquisition is $60 million, according to TechCrunch.

“From our understanding, Facebook is interested in using these high-flying drones to blanket parts of the world without Internet access, beginning with Africa,” TechCrunch said. “The company would start by building 11,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), specifically the “Solara 60” model.

These drones are “atmospheric satellites” that can conduct most of the operations of an orbital satellite, but are cheaper and more versatile. The drones could potentially have many uses, including weather monitoring, disaster recovery, Earth imaging, or communications, the company has said, but clearly Facebook would be interested in that latter part.

The Solara 50 and 60 models can be launched at night using power from internal battery packs, then when the sun rises, they can store enough energy to ascend to 20KM above sea level where they can remain for five years without needing to land or refuel. Such capabilities make them ideal for regional Internet systems, like those that would be focused on.

Titan Aerospace is a privately held venture with R&D facilities in New Mexico. The company has raised an undisclosed amount of funding.

Titan is currently led by CEO Vern Raburn, previously founder and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. The company was founded in 2012 by Max Yaney, in order to produce what it refers to as “atmosats,” new types of UAVs that do the work of near-Earth satellites at a fraction of the cost.


Celebration group bust

Celebration group bust

Balboa Park’s Centennial Group to Disband

They spent millions of public dollars on promoters and public relations and even traveled to Panama as part of their planning for a celebration in 2015 to mark the centennial of the exposition that put San Diego on the world map.

In the end, none of it worked.

Balboa Park Celebration Inc., the nonprofit formed in 2011 to organize a yearlong celebration of the Panama-California Exposition, voted Tuesday to close and return all responsibility for the event to the city, the U-T San Diego reports.

The decision to disband was reached by the board of directors hours after U-T Watchdog reported that the nonprofit was refusing to release records related to the spending of $2.8 million authorized so far.

Starting in January, the U-T Watchdog reported that the nonprofit 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.

“For reasons too varied and complex to enumerate, sponsorships have not materialized and, after discussions with and mutual agreement by the city of San Diego, at its meeting this morning the BPCI board of directors voted to return to the city, authority for organizing the 2015 Centennial Celebration in Balboa Park,” board member Patricia McQuarter announced Tuesday afternoon. “It is anticipated that the transition process will take place over the next 30 days and BPCI (the corporation) will be dissolved at the end of its fiscal year on July 31, 2014.”

Read more…

Linkage Fee Rescinded by San Diego City Council

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday unanimously rescinded a previously approved increase in a construction fee that goes toward paying for affordable housing. Opponents from the business community collected more than enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the ballot, forcing the council to choose between a repeal or placing the issue to a public vote.

Councilman David Alvarez, a supporter of the hike, made the motion to rescind after several business leaders — including former Mayor Jerry Sanders, who now leads the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce — promised to help craft a plan to tackle the lack of affordable housing in the city.

“I don’t know if it took (the increase) for you to be serious about saying that you want to come forward with a solution — work collaboratively … I can only take you at your word,” Alvarez said.

The fee was first established 24 years ago at 1.5 percent of construction costs. In 1996, the council halved the levy as an economic stimulus. An audit five years ago found that the city had not been following a requirement to review the fee on an annual basis.

In 5-4 votes in November and December, the City Council restored the fee to 1.5 percent. However, opponents said 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.

Rescinding the ordinance was a top priority and campaign theme for Kevin Faulconer, who was sworn in as mayor on Monday.

“This repeal of a massive increase to the linkage fee is a victory for jobs and the local economy,” Faulconer said. “The City Council made the right decision, avoiding a costly election battle and creating an opportunity to reach a bipartisan compromise to address affordable housing that doesn’t negatively impact San Diego’s economic development.”

— Reported by KPBS

Mayor Faulconer Reverses Email Deletion Policy

On his first full day in office, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer reversed a newly announced policy of deleting all city emails older than a year. Former interim Mayor Todd Gloria said last week that the city would begin deleting year-old emails on March 28 as a  cost-saving measure. Gloria’s announcement immediately caused an outcry among journalists and open government advocates. That’s because emails keep a record of what city officials and staff are doing, and by law those records are meant to be public.

But Faulconer, who took office officially Monday, quickly reversed the plan. His communications director Matt Awbrey announced on Twitter that Faulconer is putting the email deletion policy on hold “pending further review.”

“All city emails will continue to be stored,” he wrote.

Mollenkopf Takes the Reins at Qualcomm Inc.

Steve Mollenkopf was formally introduced Tuesday as the new chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc. at the company’s 2014 annual meeting.

Mollenkopf succeeds Paul E. Jacobs, who becomes executive chairman of the board of directors.

Steve Mollenkopf

Steve Mollenkopf

Mollenkopf has been with Qualcomm for more than 20 years in a variety of leadership positions. He was serving as president and chief operating officer when he was tapped to become CEO. In his previous position, he oversaw a

number of Qualcomm’s investments in technologies that have propelled smartphones into the mainstream. During his tenure, Qualcomm led in a range of mobile technologies, including computing, graphics, multimedia chipsets, and 3G and 4G modems.

Mollenkopf led the company’s chipset business, overseeing the launch of 4G technology and making Qualcomm the world’s largest mobile chipset supplier and a global leader in LTE technology. Mollenkopf also spearheaded the company’s $3.1 billion acquisition of Atheros,  its largest acquisition to date.

Mollenkopf serves as chairman of the Global Semiconductor Alliance and a member of the board of directors for the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Sunterra Apartment Homes Sells for $38.3 Million

Sunterra Apartment Homes

Sunterra Apartment Homes

OCEANSIDE — The Sunterra Apartment Homes, a 240-unit garden-style multifamily complex, has sold for $38.25 million — or $160,000 per unit. The buyer is Benedict Canyon Equities. The seller, Legacy Sunterra Apartments Partners LP.

Built in 1974 on 14.2 acres at 3851 Sherbourne Drive, the complex is just off College Boulevard, between State Route 78 and Oceanside Boulevard.

Sunterra Apartment Homes consists of 13 residential buildings containing 218,944 square feet of net rentable area. Community amenities include controlled-access entry, a fitness center, a resort-style pool, a sand volleyball court, playground area, extra storage space, on-site laundry facilities and a picnic area with barbecue grills. Apartment interiors feature private patios or balconies, walk-in closets, stackable washers and dryers in select units, linen closets and fully equipped kitchens with dishwashers and breakfast bar.

The sale was arranged by Institutional Property Advisors, a division of Marcus & Millichap.

Construction Starts on Scripps Clinic Medical Office Building

Rendering of the Scripps Clinic John R. Anderson V Medical Pavilion

Rendering of the Scripps Clinic John R. Anderson V Medical Pavilion

Construction starts today on the Scripps Clinic John R. Anderson V Medical Pavilion, a $175 million medical office building. The building and the adjacent prebys Cardiovascular Institute are part of a master plan for the Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla campus.

Once completed, the six-story medical office building/ambulatory care facility will house a variety of specialty services, including cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, neurology, nephrology and endocrinology. The building will also include four cardiac catheterization labs that will allow physicians to perform certain cardiac procedures in an outpatient setting.

Eileen and John “Jack” R. Anderson IV, longtime supporters of Scripps Health, previously donated $25 million toward construction of a new Scripps Clinic facility on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. In honor of the couple’s generosity, the 175,000-square-foot facility will be named the John R. Anderson V Medical Pavilion as a tribute to their son, who died from cancer in 2004. Construction on the building is projected to be completed in 2016.

Connect Names New Chief Executive Officer

Greg McKee

Greg McKee

Greg McKee, a 30-year veteran of the health care and investment management industries has been anmed chief executive officer of Connect, succeeding Duane Roth, who died on Aug. 3, 2013, from injuries suffered in a bicycling accident.

McKee was co-founder of Global Bio Link, a global specialty pharma company focused on the commercialization of novel and niche compounds in markets outside the United States. Prior to Global Bio Link, he was chairman and CEO of Akela Pharma,Inc., and its predecessor company, Nventa Biopharmaceuticals. Previously, McKee held roles as head corporate development, Valentis Inc., and senior management roles with Genzyme Corporation in the U.S. and Asia. McKee lived and worked in Japan and Singapore for nine years and speaks fluent Japanese.


Parking Meter Enforcement Hours Changed in Downtown Area

Parking meters in what is being called the “Hospitality Zone” in Downtown San Diego are having their hours changed, 10News reports. A  one-year pilot program took effect Monday, moving the meter enforcement times back two hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The change applies to the area bounded by Broadway to the north, Harbor Drive to the south and between First and Seventh avenues. It is designed to increase turnover for local businesses.

Restaurant owners are split on the new parking enforcement hours. Sam Kambo, the co-owner of the Royal India Restaurant, told 10News, “We were already all losing a lot of customers because of meters. I don’t think this is really good for downtown.”

Athens Market Taverna owner Mary Pappas disagreed.

“I don’t think it would hurt at all,” she said. “I think it’s better for them.”

Turnover is key, she said, especially when the Padres are playing. “I would rather pay to come down to have dinner in a restaurant, $3 for two hours and park across the street than to drive around for an hour trying to find a space which is not available when people park and walk 10 blocks to go to the baseball game,” she said.

Matt Frey Joins Dempsey Construction

Matt Frey

Matt Frey

CARLSBAD —  Matt Frey has joined Dempsey Construction as project manager. Frey previously was a project manager for BNBuilders, Turner Construction Co. and Rudolph and Sletten.

Frey graduated from California State University, Chico with a bachelor’s degree in construction management. A resident of La Mesa, he has been involved with AC Mentoring, Rebuilding America and the San Diego Food Bank. Frey holds the LEED AP Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.


High School Students Take Part

In Regional Robotics Competition

The San Dieguito High School Academy team works on its robot.

The San Dieguito High School Academy team works on its robot.

More than 60 high school robotics competition teams will compete at the eighth annual San Diego Regional FIRST Robotics event Friday and Saturday at the Valley View Casino Center, the former Sports Arena, in Point Loma.

FIRST( For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a worldwide organization that gives elementary, middle and high school students an opportunity to be both educated and excited about technology fields through friendly competition modeled after sports games.

Attendees watch as high schoolers drive teams of three 120-pound robots up and down a 25-by-54-foot field, each team passing, throwing and launching a 2-foot diameter ball between robots, over obstacles and into goals to score in this year’s game, called Aerial Assist. Off the field, teams and individual students will be judged and win awards for safety, spirit and personal commitment to the core values of FIRST.

One of the teams competing is the FIRST Team Paradox 2102 from San Dieguito High School Academy in Encinitas, now in its eighth year of competition. “It’s passion FIRST for Team Paradox,” said Romy Beigel, marketing president for Team Paradox. “Our robot this year is a team player ready to pass, catch, throw the ball and score lots of points.”


The robot

The robot

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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: