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Daily Business Report-May 13, 2014

Daily Business Report-May 13, 2014

Toni Atkins is sworn in as Speaker of the Assembly. To her right is her spouse, Jennifer LeSar. At far right is Gov. Jerry Brown. (Photo courtesy of the Assembly Democratic Caucus) 

Atkins Becomes Speaker of the Assembly

In an historic transfer of power, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins on Monday became the first openly gay woman to ascend to the head of the California Assembly.

The inauguration filled the California Assembly chambers with an audience that included a roster of past legislative leaders, statewide officials and Gov. Jerry Brown. Former speaker Karen Bass, now a member of Congress, administered the oath to Atkins.

In her first remarks as speaker, Atkins praised California’s gradual return to fiscal stability, urged more investment in education and pledged to bolster California’s business climate. She won applause for lauding the enrollment success of Covered California, the state’s new health insurance exchange, and reiterated her commitment to two longtime goals.

“If I have a personal priority, it is ending homelessness and making sure we have affordable housing, not just to house the homeless but for wall working Californians,” Atkins said.

And with budget talks set to get under way, she touched on fiscal restraint but also talked about the need to assist California’s teeming ranks of low-income residents.

“We are all here to do the people’s business,” Atkins (D-San Diego) said. “We must work to ensure stability, and that includes an adequate reserve for those rainy days when the economy again takes a downward dive. And at the same time we must expand opportunity and lift up the most vulnerable who have suffered a great deal and need us not to forget them now.”

In her swearing-in remarks Speaker Atkins emphasized the need to help California’s economy improve, including passing a Rainy Day Fund, increasing investment and access at UC and CSU, developing a strong water policy in the face of the drought, creating more affordable housing and ending veterans homelessness.

Atkins lives in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego with her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, and their dogs, Haley and Joey.

 San Diego Set to Pay $355,000 to

End SOHO Balboa Park Lawsuit

The city of San Diego will pay $355,000 to a preservationist group that sued to stop a plan that would have resulted in construction of a bridge in the west side of Balboa Park, according to city documents.

The settlement reimburses the Save Our Heritage Organisation for attorney’s fees incurred during a court battle.

The City Council approved the deal in closed session last month and is scheduled to give final approval in open session on Tuesday.

SOHO disputed a plan by ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders and Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs to remove vehicle traffic from the heart of Balboa Park in the Plaza de Panama.

The Sanders-Jacobs plan called for the addition of a bypass bridge that would have carried cars away from the plaza, along with construction of a parking garage. SOHO contended the bridge would be unsightly and take away from the historical character of the park.

In February 2013, a Superior Court judge ruled that the council members had no evidence to support a finding that the project area would have no reasonable beneficial use if the plan wasn’t approved. The finding was necessary because of the park’s historic status.

The court’s ruling effectively killed the plan. The mayor at the time, Bob Filner, subsequently ordered parking in the plaza to be removed.

Traffic in the plaza has been reduced this year by a seismic retrofit project on the Cabrillo Bridge.

— City News Service

San Diego’s Lumena Sold to Shire for $260 Million

Portfolio company Lumena Pharmaceuticals of San Diego has been sold to Dublin-based Shire Plc., in a transaction with an upfront payment of $260 million in cash, plus a payment for net cash at closing, and near-term contingent milestone payments related to ongoing clinical trials.

In the three years since it received initial seed funding from life sciences venture capital firm RiverVest, Lumena has developed two transformative drugs to provide better treatment options for adults and children who suffer from rare and debilitating liver diseases and serious metabolic disorders.

In addition to its financial commitment, RiverVest provided hands-on support to accelerate Lumena’s clinical programs and orphan drug designations. Niall O’Donnell, RiverVest managing director, acted as Lumena’s interim chief medical officer for 18 months. Bradley Keller, RiverVest’s entrepreneur-in-residence, served as Lumena’s vice president of research. John McKearn, RiverVest managing director, served as chairman of Lumena’s board of directors.

“Lumena is another example of our strategy working effectively,” said McKearn. “We identify promising early-stage companies with the goal of exiting them within five years, and we provide the guidance and expertise to speed them towards commercialization, making them attractive for sale.”

Lumena is the sixth company to exit from RiverVest’s Fund II (2006), which had total commitments of $75 million.

Reactivation of the “Desert Line” Given Boost

The South County Economic Development Council has voted to support the reactivation of the San Diego Arizona Eastern Railway. Support of the “Desert Line” followed a presentation by Karen Landers, general counsel for San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, owner of the right of way, and Donald Stoecklein, CEO of Pacific Imperial Railroad Inc., the operator of the Desert Line.

The geographic location of the Desert Line impacts the northwest part of Mexico (primarily Mexicali and Tijuana) and Southern California, including South County, which sits in the heart of the California-Baja California bi-national region. This border region and the border crossings associated is considered the busiest border crossing in the world by some experts.

The re-opening of the Desert Line should assist in the elimination of some of the inefficiencies at the border crossing, which, according to the recently published Global San Diego Export Plan, result in “an annual loss of more than $1.3 billion.

Institute Gets Gates Foundation Grant

The California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr) has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an Integrated Drug Discovery Platform for Diseases of the Developing World. The goal will be to identify innovative new therapeutics for the treatment of diseases of the developing world. The program will leverage ongoing research efforts and infrastructure at Calibr, as well as draw upon expertise in academia and industry by establishing collaborations.

County Literacy Rates Continue to Lag

About 20 percent of San Diego County residents are either illiterate or functionally illiterate, according to the San Diego Council on Literacy’s assessment of U.S. Census figures. Those rates are in line with national numbers.

Experts say illiteracy increases the chances that a young person will end up in jail, or that a family will live in poverty.

For 30 years, the council has been working to improve literacy rates in the county through its 26 affiliated programs.

This week, the organization will hold its annual Eat.Drink.Read fundraising event, where local chefs will serve unique dishes inspired by their favorite book.

“Our $60 ticket price is accessible to a wide audience. Besides wonderful cuisine, folks have great fun with our lively setup and theme,” said Jose Cruz, CEO of the literacy council.

KPBS will also announce the winner of this year’s One Book, One San Diego community reading program, at Wednesday’s event.


ResMed Launches Platform of

Portable Life Support Ventilators

ResMed introduced a new platform of portable, lightweight, and user-friendly life support ventilators, Astral 100 and Astral 150, in select European and Asia-Pacific markets. Astral 100 and Astral 150 life support ventilators offer unparalleled mobility with an optional 24-hour run time battery, large easy-to-use touch screen, and a clean graphic user interface. The life ventilators help patients suffering from neuromuscular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other adult and childhood breathing disorders monitor their well-being.

Point Loma Nazarene Breaks

Ground on Science Complex

Point Loma Nazarene University broke ground last week on the long awaited science complex addition to the Point Loma campus. University President Bob Brower was joined by the PLNU Board of Trustees, faculty, students, alumni, donors and community leaders to celebrate the new building. Twenty years in the making, the new facility will accommodate the growing number of undergraduate students wishing to study science at PLNU. The PLNU science program can now reach new heights with modern technology and collaborative research opportunities.

Regent Properties Buys Atlas at Carlsbad

Los Angeles-based Regent Properties has purchased Atlas at Carlsbad, a 246,668-square-foot building located at 5909 Sea Otter Place in Carlsbad, for $16 million. Cassidy Turley’s Aric Starck, a managing director, said the company plans to reposition the property “to serve growing tenant demand in the market, which has a scarce supply of large blocks of contiguous space.” Starck said the building is the former headquarters of the Upper Deck trading card company and considered a single tenant corporate headquarters building.

“Regent has begun redeveloping the building to allow for a single tenant  or multiple office and R&D tenants,” said Starck.

Improvements under way by Regent Properties include interior renovation and modernization, new exterior glazing, new landscaping, additional parking and site work. The purchase brings Regent Properties’ recent office and industrial acquisitions in Carlsbad to more than 650,000 square feet.

Starck, along with Cassidy Turley managing director Dennis Visser represented the seller in the transaction, WP Carey. Starck also represented Regent Properties.


Colliers International Adds  Vice Presidents

Chris Holder and Mark Lewkowitz have joined Colliers International San Diego specializing in industrial sales and leasing from Otay Mesa north to Interstate 8. Both Chris and Mark were most recently affiliated with Cushman & Wakefield.

Holder will join Colliers as senior vice president. A 25-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, he has worked with IRE Development, LBA, TA Realty, First Industrial, Prologis, Sanyo, Sony, Continental Maritime, and Olli Salumeria. Holder is a member of the Otay Mesa Planning Group, Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce, and the South County EDC. He is a graduate of San Diego State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business.

Lewkowitz joins the company as associate vice president, with more than seven years of experience. His notable clients include Westside Building Materials, Amee Bay, Tecnio, IRE Development and Frasers Boiler. Lewkowitz is involved with National City Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of San Diego County, and Junior Achievement. He graduated from UC San Diego where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics.

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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: