Daily Business Report-April 9, 2014
San Diego County Water Authority
Protests MWD’s Water Rate Hike
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) on Tuesday raised rates for 2015 and 2016 despite protests from the San Diego County Water Authority. The Water Authority said MWD has projected cash reserves of $840 million — an amount that is $352 million above its maximum reserve limit.
Officials from the San Diego County Water Authority and several of its 24 member agencies attended Tuesday’s hearing in Los Angeles to defend the region’s ratepayers and urge no water rate increases be adopted. The MWD board adopted 1.5 percent increases for each of the next two years.
The Water Authority’s delegates to MWD voted against the rate increases not only because they are unnecessary, but also because they are based on the same flawed methodology that a judge in San Francisco Superior Court recently ruled violates the California Constitution, the California Government Code and the common law, Water Authority officials said.
“MWD had a chance to help ratepayers and water agencies by providing rate relief,” said Thomas V. Wornham, chair of the Water Authority’s board of directors. “Instead, it’s continuing to charge more in an era when other public agencies are struggling to make do with less.”
Qualcomm Program Drives Global Entrepreneurship
Like many women around the world, Erin Radzi of Malaysia stopped working when she became pregnant and subsequently found it very difficult to get back into work. Her family went through economic hardship and then Erin’s husband left her. She couldn’t hold a job outside of the home and take care of her children. She needed to work from home.
An entrepreneur at heart, Erin started a baking business and soon realized that she had a passion for cake decorating.
Through Qualcomm Wireless Reach’s Mentoring Women in Business program, Erin utilized her mentor and her access to the Internet to teach herself how to make and decorate wedding cakes through online videos as well as promote her business through a website and social media. Her business, Bread and Butter, now allows her to provide for herself and her children.
While accessing the Internet and using wireless devices might be commonplace for us here in the U.S., there are millions of people around the world who don’t have access to basic communication or to all that the Internet provides. However, mobile is the largest technology platform in the world and the emerging capability of 3G and 4G technology is creating incredible opportunities for people globally.
Orca Show Ban Legislation Killed for This Year
SACRAMENTO — Avoiding a vote on a contentious bill, an Assembly committee on Tuesday deferred until a tleast next year legislation that would ban captive orca breeding and shows involving the whales. One of the ripple effects of the provocative documentary Blackfish, which explores the deaths of SeaWorld trainers and concludes they stemmed in part from the park’s orca management practices, was Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, introducing Assembly Bill 2140.
Noting the massive interest his bill has attracted and conceding that committee members seemed “unprepared” to cast a fully informed vote, Bloom agreed on Tuesday to hold the bill for an interim study. That process could take more than a year.
— Sacramento Bee
San Diego Real Estate Regains Some Ground
Real estate in San Diego regained some ground in March, with the median price of a single-family home rising 4.3 percent to $490,000, according to the San Diego Association of Realtors. In a report issued Monday, the local real estate group said the price of a house sold in March was 4.3 percent higher than in February and up 13.4 percent compared with March 2013.
Sales were up 32.5 percent, with nearly 1,800 homes sold last month. But compared with sales in March 2013, sales were down 15.4 percent, according to the association.
Condominium and townhouse prices were up 1.7 percent month-to-month, with the median price at $305,000. Compared with last March, prices were up 7 percent. Sales were up 14.7 percent, with 827 units sold in March.
Compared to last year, sales of condominiums and townhomes were down 17.3 percent.
Year-to-date figures reflect a wintertime slowdown in the market, according to the association. In the first quarter of the year, nearly 4,500 single-family homes sold, down 18.7 percent from same quarter in 2013. Quarter-to-quarter condominium and townhome sales — 2,300 — were down 9.6 percent. — City News Service
City Offers Free Recycling of Old Tax Files
San Diegans can recycle their outdated tax files for free during Tax File Recycling, which runs today through April 18 at the Miramar Recycling Center, 5165 Convoy Street San Diego. The twelfth annual event is sponsored by the city of San Diego and Allan Company. Allan Company will provide secure containers at the Miramar Recycling Center for residents to drop off old files, which are securely stored and shredded before being recycled.
“Recyclable paper continues to be a large percentage of all waste buried in the Miramar Landfill,” said Chris Gonaver, director of the Environmental Services Department. “The city now accepts bagged, shredded paper through our curbside recycling program. For those residents without curbside collection or home paper shredders, this confidential recycling service ensures that all San Diego residents have a safe alternative for recycling their tax files.”
Scripps, UC San Diego Algae Biofuel
Programs Rated Top in the Country
Fossil fuel use, even with the environmental and economic security challenges it poses, remains the dominant source of energy in the United States. But its 80 percent share of the energy supply could be diminished in as little as five years. Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC San Diego are taking the lead in developing an energy source that has the potential to be both cheaper and cleaner than fossil fuels: algae biofuels.
A new report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy ranked algal biofuels research programs at UC San Diego as the two best in the country. A program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography was rated the best in the nation.
Mark Hildebrand and his team in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography received the top honor from among 28 algae technology groups for criteria that included technical progress, project relevance, and potential commercial applications. The report specifically cited the lab’s “outstanding research” in the genetic manipulation of algae to improve the yield of key components for biofuel production. Another UC San Diego research group, the UC San Diego Consortium for Algae Biofuel Commercialization (CAB-Comm), led by UC San Diego molecular biologist Stephen Mayfield, was recognized by the DOE as the number two-ranked research program.
Carlsbad and San Marcos Get Biggest Breaks on Car Insurance
Carlsbad and San Marcos residents have some of the lowest automobile insurance premiums in California, according to a report by the personal finance social network WalletHub. The report says Carlsbad is the eighth least expensive and San Marcos is ninth, both more than 10 percent below the state average. Santa Maria is the least expensive, more than 21 percent less than the state average. The most expensive is Glendale, nearly 44 percent higher than the norm.
WalletHub reported that the average premium in San Diego County was $1,194, ranking 35th of the state’s 58 counties. The cheapest was San Luis Obispo County at $1,013. The most expensive was Los Angeles at $1,584.
Among the San Diego County cities in the report were Chula Vista, 11th least expensive; Oceanside, 15th; Vista, 17th; and Escondido, 20th. The city of San Diego ranked 27th, the most expensive of the area cities that were studied. — City News Service
2-1-1 San Diego Receives $100,000 Grant
2-1-1 San Diego has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation to improve its program of connecting people with community, health and disaster support services through a toll free hotline and searchable online database. The organization said the funding will
improve the efficiency and quality of 2-1-1 service, establish a credible base of aggregated, geographically-based, community needs data, and attract new funding partnerships to sustain 2-1-1 operations in the future.
“This grant will help us to continue to break down barriers for San Diegans so they can get the help they need,” said John Ohanian, CEO of the organization. . “And it will help us continue to develop robust data sets to share with our community’s decision makers so they can make informed choices related to what the regional needs are.”
The S. Mark Taper Foundation has been a funding partner of 2-1-1 San Diego since 2008 when the foundation first funded 2-1-1 San Diego’s Disaster Response Team volunteer program.
Northrop Grumman to Build Five More
Unmanned Helicopters for the Navy
Northrop Grumman Corp. will build five additional U.S. Navy MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, which allow ship commanders to extend their intelligence-gathering capabilities. The MQ-8C is based on a larger helicopter airframe that provides greater range, endurance and payload capacity over the currently fielded MQ-8B Fire Scout variant, the company said.
“Land-based flight tests of the system are progressing well and we’re working with the Navy to conduct our first ship-based flights this summer,” said George Vardoulakis, a Northrop Grumman vice president. “We expect the MQ-8C Fire Scout will be ready for operations by year end.”
Final assembly of the aircraft will take place at the company’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.
S.D. Foundation Names Director of Charitable Giving
The San Diego Foundation has appointed Kari Breitweiser as director of charitable giving, a new Center for Charitable Giving position. In her new role, Breitweiser will work with the professional adviser community and charitably minded individuals to establish new family foundations, donor advised funds, endowments, legacy funds, and planned gifts.
Breitweiser previously held a similar position at the foundation for five years before she departed to work for her family’s real estate business. Prior to that, she served as a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch. Breitweiser graduated from the University of the Pacific and holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business administration.
IPA Adds Senior Director to San Diego Office
Institutional Property Advisors (IPA), a division of Marcus & Millichap, has expanded its national team of senior advisers with the addition of Christopher J. Zorbas, a senior director overseeing IPA San Diego. Zorbas has been a broker of major multifamily properties with Marcus & Millichap for nearly 13 years, completing over $433 million in transactions in the last two years. His clients include some of the nation’s largest institutional and major private multifamily investors.
Zorbas joined Marcus & Millichap in 2001 as an associate in the firm’s San Diego office. He was promoted to vice president investments in 2008. Zorbas received a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University.