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Daily Business Report — Aug. 1, 2014

Daily Business Report — Aug. 1, 2014

The Del Mar beach house was listed at $22.9 million.

Million-Dollar Home Sales Up Again in California

The number of California homes that sold for a million dollars or more rose to its highest level in seven years last quarter, the result of rising home prices and an improving economy, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. The luxury market’s high end continues to do best, with record sales above the $2 million mark. (San Diego-based DataQuick was acquired in March by Irvine-based CoreLogic, a property information, analytics and data services provider.)

A total of 12,826 homes sold for a million dollars or more during the April-through-June period. That was up 60.4 percent from 7,994 during this year’s first quarter, and up 9.1 percent from 11,758 in second-quarter 2013. Last quarter’s $1 million-plus sales were the highest for any quarter since 13,681 homes sold for $1 million or more in second-quarter 2007, according to CoreLogic DataQuick.

According to the report’s rankings, Del Mar had $1 million-plus sales of 128 in the second quarter of 2013 compared with 136 in the second quarter of this year, with the most expensive home selling for $6 million.

La Jolla also was listed as having $1 million-plus sales of 149 in the second quarter of last year compared with 110 sales in the second quarter of this year, with the most expensive home selling for $13 million.

“It’s always fascinating to watch this part of the real estate market. It behaves differently, responds to its own set of criteria. These buyers, especially those in the multi-million-dollar market, are less likely to agonize over credit scores, income and job security, down payments and mortgage interest rates,” said Andrew LePage, CoreLogic DataQuick analyst.

Administrator Named for Chula Vista Veterans Home

Lael Hepworth

Lael Hepworth

Lael Hepworth, 39, of Orting, Wash., has been appointed administrator at the Veterans Home of California, Chula Vista by Gov. Jerry Brown. Hepworth has served as superintendent at the Washington Soldiers Home since 2013. He was an administrator at Meadow Park-Extendicare from 2011 to 2013, at Nehalem Valley Care Center in 2011, at Prestige Care from 2010 to 2011 and at Avamere Rehab of Salem from 2006 to 2010. Hepworth was senior business and application analyst at Boise Cascade from 2001 to 2005 and served in the U.S. Army National Guard from 1993-2002. The position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $125,000. Hepworth is a Republican.

Auto Auction

Auto Auction

Bidding to Open Monday  for County’s Online Auction

Bidding opens Monday for the county of San Diego’s auction of  hundreds of surplus vehicles, including automobiles and heavy equipment, and surplus government property. Among the vehicles are a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid sedan, a 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid, family vans, Ford Taurus sedans, Explorers and Expeditions.

Register to bid for the auction online starting at 8 a.m. on Monday. Bidding ends at noon on Aug. 11. For more information, an auction catalog and photos of many of the items up for auction, visit TNT Public Auction

The vehicles will go on display from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, and 8 a.m. to noon on Aug. 11 at 369 Main St. in Ramona.

UC San Diego Raises Nearly $1.1 Billion for Research

UC San Diego raised almost $1.1 billion for research during the last fiscal year, increasing its funding from the previous year by more than $72 million, the university announced.  The school uses the research funds to search for new ways to treat cancer and diabetes, monitor earthquakes across Southern California, develop new methods of forecasting wildfires, as well as a variety of other research initiatives. The total research funding of $1.1 billion is the second-highest annual figure in UC San Diego history, maintaining the school’s standing as one of the nation’s top 10 largest centers for science, engineering, and medicine.

San Diego Symphony Selects New CEO 

Martha Gilmer

Martha Gilmer

The San Diego Symphony announced Thursday that Martha Gilmer will become its new CEO. Gilmer will take over from Ward Gill, who has been the symphony’s chief executive for more than 10 years. Gilmer comes to San Diego following a 35-year career at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Most recently she has been the Mary L. Gray chair of artistic planning and audience development with the Chicago symphony.

Gill will resign as Gilmer begins work on Sept. 24. She is coming to San Diego on a three-year contract.



New Generation of Rare Turtles

Released into San Diego Reserve

Turtle release

Turtle release

Five juvenile western pond turtles were released into the Sycuan Peak Ecological Reserve on Thursday by a team of federal, state and zoo scientists. The released turtles are part of the “headstart” program, which involves raising hatchlings at the San Diego Zoo to a large enough size and then releasing them into the wild, giving them a better chance of surviving and fending off natural predators.

The western pond turtles are California’s only native freshwater turtle species, a species that was once widespread in California, Oregon and Washington. They are now uncommon, especially in Southern California, due to habitat loss and invasive, nonnative predators like bullfrogs and largemouth bass, which eat up the tiny hatchling turtles that are no larger than a quarter.

“Along with USGS we’re able to monitor these turtles with their radio transmitters and check on them periodically to see how they’re doing,” said Tommy Owens, senior keeper with the San Diego Zoo’s Department of Herpetology. “It’s really important here at the beginning of the release, because the turtles might not stay put and we want to be able to find them easily. Through radio tracking we can see the use of habitat, their behaviors and check on their overall well being.”

The five turtles were each fitted with a miniature radio transmitter prior to the release so researchers can regularly check on the turtles’ growth, physical health and behavior.

Connections between neurons could one help researchers understand conditions such as autism. Image courtesy of UCSD Neurosciences

Connections between neurons could help researchers understand conditions such as autism. Image courtesy of UCSD Neurosciences

Researcher Findings Could Give Insights into Autism

Researchers at UC San Diego reported Thursday their findings on how neurons in the brain make connections, which could provide greater insight into conditions like autism. In studying the pathways from the retina to the brain in mice, which create sight, the scientists found that neurons have an orderly process of establishing connections.

Their findings appear in the online edition of the journal Cell Reports.

A healthy, mature brain has billions of interconnected neurons. The researchers looked at developing brains, when division takes place to create as many as 250,000 neurons per minute.

The neurons are paying attention to when they were born and reading out which choices they should make based on their birth date,” said Jessica Osterhout, a UC San Diego doctoral student in biology and the study’s lead author. Sometimes mistakes are made in forming connections in developing brains, but those are corrected, the scientists said. Few such errors take place in mature brains.

According to UCSD, some researchers believe that autism and other disorders linked to brain development may be caused, in part, by a failure of neurons to properly reposition when mistakes in target selection occur.

“We want to know if (in) diseases such as autism, neurons are made out of order and as a result get confused about which connections to make,” said Andrew Huberman, an assistant professor in the Department of.

Southwest Strategies Adds 3 to Management Team

Ben Boyce

Ben Boyce

Lacey Watson

Lacey Watson

Lidiya Kravchuk

Lidiya Kravchuk

Public affairs firm Southwest Strategies has added Ben Boyce, Lacey Watson and Lidiya Kravchuk to its management team. Boyce and Watson have been given manager of public affairs titles and Kravchuk was hired as an account executive.

Boyce worked in land development outreach programs in both Northern and Southern California. His outreach programs are credited with helping water and wastewater providers communicate with more than 6 million Southern California ratepayers.

Watson served as in-house corporate and regulatory counsel for private wind energy developer Cielo Wind Services Inc. Prior to working as a corporate attorney, she served in an outreach capacity as the industry liaison for the Texas Wind Energy Institute.

Kravchuk has worked in governmental affairs and public relations, most recently as a staff member of County Supervisor Greg Cox assisting with constituent correspondence, speech writing, grant processing, public outreach and social media management.

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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.

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