Daily Business Report — Aug. 27, 2014
The San Diego Convention Center. (Photo/Chris Stone)
Convention Center Expansion
Financing Now ‘Up in the Air’
The City Council declined Tuesday to appeal an adverse ruling on the financing plan for the San Diego Convention Center expansion project to the state Supreme Court.Earlier this month, a three-justice panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal struck down a levy on area hotels, which was designed to pay the bulk of the project’s $520 million cost. The justices sided with civic watchdog Melvin Shapiro, who called it a tax that should have been approved in a public vote. San Diegans for Open Government (SanDOG) was also part of the lawsuit against the city over the financing plan.
The owners of the hotel properties had agreed to assess themselves to pay the lion’s share of the cost, because they’d be the ones to benefit from the projected increase in business.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had said that the city was venturing into an untested area of the law with the funding mechanism, which was previously upheld by San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager.
The City Council deliberated for about a half-hour before voting unanimously against proceeding with an appeal, with members Myrtle Cole and Ed Harris absent.
The financing for the project is now “up in the air,” council President Todd Gloria told City News Service.
“It means we’re going to have to spend some time figuring out a way to pay for this project or find a new one,” Gloria said.
The city’s options include putting the funding mechanism before voters, or trying to come up with a new plan to pay for the project. If it goes to a citywide vote, the delay could be two years.
“We’re glad that city is going to look at other alternatives,” said Cory Briggs, attorney representing SanDOG. “It’s the right move and SanDOG is looking to be a part of that conversation.”
— Times of San Diego/City News Service
Scripps to Hold Panel on San Diego
Efforts to Respond to Ebola Virus
The Scripps Research Institute will hold a panel discussion at 4 p.m. today on efforts in San Diego to respond to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa. Among the scheduled panelists is Kevin Whaley, CEO of Mapp Biopharmaceutical, a Sorrento Valley firm that produced an experimental treatment administered to two American health workers who were sickened by the virus and subsequently recovered. A British man was also given the medication, called ZMapp, as was a Liberian physician who died of the disease.
Other scheduled panelists are Scripps Research Institute professor Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, who heads an international effort to find antibodies to fight the Ebola virus, and Mark O’Donnell, chief operating officer of Project Concern International.
O’Donnell’s organization is involved in humanitarian assistance efforts in Liberia to prevent the spread of Ebola. PCI also trains health care workers and delivers emergency medical supplies.
The panel discussion is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in the Beckman Building at TSRI, 10650 North Torrey Pines Road.
While the event is free and open to the public, reservations are required. People interested in attending are asked to contact Chelsea Luedeke by calling (858) 784-7083, or via email at email@example.com.
— City News Service
BAE Systems San Diego Gets Navy Contract
BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair has received a Navy ship repair contract potentially worth as much as $78 million for dry-dock work to the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Lake Erie. The work will be done in San Diego with an anticipated completion date of June 2015. The Southwest Regional Maintenance Center of San Diego awarded the contract.
Qubitekk to Receive Federal Funding
Qubitekk, a San Diego startup, will receive a $3 million grant from the Department of Energy to speed the development of unhackable quantum encryption technology to protect the country’s power grid from cyber attack.
Under the DOE’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems program, the nation’s to program for grid security, Qubitekk will be working in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of Texas at Austin, Sandia National Laboratory and Pacific Gas & Electric to prepare for threats to critical infrastructure.
With cyber attacks on the rise and advances in code-breaking quantum computers, there is a growing need to defend the U.S. Power Grid, according to the DOE.
Organovo Named 2015 Tech Pioneer
Organovo Holdings Inc. of San Diego has been selected as a 2015 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Organovo is one of 24 companies recognized for the ability to harness creativity to design and create transformative solutions.
Organovo’s commercial 3D bioprinting technology produces three-dimensional human tissues for medical research, drug testing, and therapeutic applications. Organovo and the 2015 Technology Pioneers will be honored at the eighth annual meeting of New Champions, the foremost gathering in Asia on science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Researchers See Poor Sleep Hampering
Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The effectiveness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment may hinge significantly upon sleep quality, report researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System in a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
“I think these findings help us understand why sleep disturbances and nightmares are such important symptoms in PTSD,” said Sean P.A. Drummond, professor of psychiatry and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. “Our study suggests the physiological mechanism whereby sleep difficulties can help maintain PTSD. It also strongly implies a mechanism by which poor sleep may impair the ability of an individual to fully benefit from exposure-based PTSD treatments, which are the gold standard of interventions.
“The implication is that we should try treating sleep before treating the daytime symptoms of PTSD and see if those who are sleeping better when they start exposure therapy derive more benefit.”
Drummond said the findings do encourage further investigation, eventually into human PTSD populations where fear, safety and sleep are on-going and paramount concerns among military veterans and others.
City Council Embraces ‘One Dig’
Philosophy on Street Repairs
A major overhaul of an Old Town roadway began Tuesday, with city officials taking a new approach so that the pavement won’t have to be repeatedly ripped up.
The $8 million project, on Juan Street between Taylor Street and Sunset Road, will result in a new roadway surface, plus new sidewalks, curb and gutters, curb ramps, water mains and storm drains.
“This is a perfect example of the city’s new ‘One Dig’ philosophy in which we try to consolidate all of the upgrades at once — street resurfacing, sidewalk installation, new water lines — so the city doesn’t tear up the street again and again,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.
“This smarter approach saves the city time and money that it can use on other repair projects and reduces the impacts on neighborhood residents and businesses,” he said.
The project on the 85-year-old street involves replacing the water pipes underneath the road and creating a reinforced concrete storm drain conveyance system. The upgrades are expected to minimize flooding issues that have been a problem there in the past.
“Old Town is known as the birthplace of California, but its infrastructure shouldn’t be considered historic,” City Council President Todd Gloria said. “The improvements to Juan Street and to the water and storm water systems underneath are worthy investments that will serve Old Town’s many businesses and visitors.”
Since Juan Street is in an area known to contain historical and archaeological resources, the project includes an environmental assessment and monitoring in order to preserve the integrity and archaeological history of Old Town, according to the city.
— City News Service
San Diego Home Prices Have
More Than Doubled Since 2000
Home prices in San Diego increased 0.7 percent between May and June, and were up 10.4 percent from June of last year, according to new numbers from the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.
While the prices continued to rise in San Diego and the nation as a whole, the rate of increase continued to slow.
The indices take home prices in 20 large cities as of January of 2000, assign them a value of 100, and track their subsequent rise and fall.
San Diego’s index number in June was 203.32, representing a doubling of home values in 15 years. The rate of climb is the third-fastest in the U.S. during that period, trailing only Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Composite indices of 10 and 20 cities climbed 1 percent from the previous month and 8.1 percent over the past year. The 10-city index stood at 187.19, and the 20 city index was at 172.33.
“Home price gains continue to ease as they have since last fall,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “For the first time since February 2008, all cities showed lower annual rates than the previous month. Other housing indicators — starts, existing home sales and builders’ sentiment — are positive. Taken together, these point to a more normal housing sector.”
San Diego was one of only five cities in the U.S. with double-digit percentage gains in housing prices since June 2013.
— City News Service
Only 10 Percent of S.D. Homes Still ‘Underwater’
Rising home prices mean fewer homes in San Diego are “underwater” than the national average, with only 10 percent of local homeowners having negative equity in the second quarter, according to a report Wednesday by the online real estate firm Zillow.
Nationally 17 percent of U.S. homeowners with mortgages — a total of 8.7 million — were still underwater on their mortgage in the second quarter of 2014, Zillow said. The national housing market is still recovering from the recession that began in 2008.
Here are the metropolitan areas with the lowest percentage of homes underwater:
San Jose — 4.6 percent
Austin — 8.3 percent
Houston — 8.4 percent
Los Angeles — 9.3 percent
Denver — 9.7 percent
San Diego — 10.0 percent
Of the 35 largest metros covered by Zillow, more than one-fourth of homeowners in Atlanta (28.9 percent), Las Vegas (27.4 percent) and Chicago (27.1 percent) were still underwater on their homes at the end of the second quarter.
Nationally, millennial homeowners held 19.6 percent of all underwater mortgages while Generation X held 18.7 percent and Baby Boomers held 10.9 percent, Zillow reported.
— Times of San Diego
Sundt Construction Adds Team Members
Sundt Construction, Inc. has added Kris Mehta, a senior project superintendent, and Ron Price, a project engineer, to its San Diego office. Both join the San Diego State University South Campus Plaza Phase I project, which is scheduled to be completed in August 2016.
Mehta comes to Sundt with over 25 years of experience in the Southern California construction industry. He has worked on many notable projects, including the $750 million SOKA University of America in Aliso Viejo. As senior project superintendent, Mehta is responsible for managing all field operations, as well as overseeing quality control and subcontractor relationships.
Price, a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, brings more than six years of experience working as a project engineer for one of the nation’s leading contracting companies. In his role, Price oversees procurement, forecasting, contracts, scheduling and estimating.
Dowling & Yahnke Adds Portfolio Manager
Gregory J. Richardson has joined Dowling & Yahnke LLC, a wealth advisory firm, as a portfolio manager. Richardson has worked in the wealth advisory field for more than 12 years. He was previously a partner and adviser with fee-only firms in San Diego and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Girl Scouts’ Whimsical Adventure Set for Sept. 12
To help keep Girl Scouting available and affordable for 30,000 local girls, 500 San Diegans will go down the rabbit hole in Balboa Park on Friday, Sept. 12. Urban Campout: Adventures in Wonderland will begin at 6 p.m. at Girl Scouts San Diego’s Balboa Campus (1231 Upas St.).
Patti Roscoe and Jim Tiffany co-chair the 17th annual “fun fundraiser for grown-ups,” while San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria heads the honorary committee. Wells Fargo is presenting sponsor for the Alice in Wonderland-themed event.
Dressed in costume or casual TGIF attire, partygoers will play flamingo croquet in the Queen’s Court and create fanciful chapeaux with the Mad Hatter. They’ll savor gourmet fare, sample scrumptious sweets at a tea party, enjoy adult beverages (guaranteed not to shrink them!) and dance to the music of The Heroes.
Urban Campout auction items will include a cruise on Holland America Line, jewelry from Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers and Southwest Airlines tickets.
Joining Wells Fargo as event sponsors are Qualcomm, Chevron, Cubic Corporation, Delphi Private Wealth Management, KPBS, the San Diego Chargers, Sycuan Casino, Tipton Honda, Barbara and David Groce, and Nadine and Carlo Daleo.
For additional information, visit www.sdgirlscouts.org/uc or call (619) 610-0807.
King Tut Exhibition
Tickets Go on Sale
The San Diego Natural History Museum announced that tickets are now on sale for the special, limited-engagement exhibition “The Discovery of King Tut,” coming to the Balboa Park museum on Oct. 11. The exhibition, which theatrically tells the story of Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, will be on display through April 26, 2015.
In celebration of the San Diego Museum Council’s Kids Free in October, theNAT and Premier Exhibitions Inc. are offering the first 500 kids tickets (ages 3-12) free when purchased with full-price adult ticket. The special offer is available on tickets purchased in advance and will remain available while supplies last. Tickets may be pre-purchased at www.sdnat.org/kingtut or by calling (877) 946.7797.
Seen by more than five million people in two dozen international host cities, Premier Exhibitions, a presenter of museum-quality exhibitions throughout the world, brings “The Discovery of King Tut” to North America in partnership with Semmel Concerts GmbH. San Diego will be the second U.S. market to host the exhibition once it leaves Kansas City’s Union Station, making this run its West Coast premiere.
Featuring more than 1,000 scientifically produced replicas hand crafted by Egyptian artisans, “The Discovery of King Tut” will give visitors to theNAT a glimpse into one of the greatest archeological finds of the 20th century: the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The exhibition allows the public to enjoy the splendor of these priceless Egyptian treasures without ever harming the fragile, sensitive originals — which can only now be exhibited separately and are no longer permitted to tour outside of Egypt.
amazed at what they’ve seen and learned about the iconic boy king.”
Admission: $27 adults; $24 seniors (62+); $21 students and military (with ID); $17 youth (7-17). Children (3-6) and under are included with paid general admission ($11). Children 2 and under are free.