Daily Business Report — Aug. 4, 2014
Above: Bay View walkway of the proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion.
Will Court Ruling Put Comic-Con in Jeopardy?
Just a week after Comic-Con International, San Diego’s bid to keep the huge annual trade show in town was dealt a severe setback Friday when a state appellate court struck down the mechanism being used to fund a $520 million expansion of the convention center.
The justices ruled that a levy on hotel property owners that they themselves approved violates the state Constitution and the city charter, which call for a public vote and a two-thirds majority for a special tax to take effect. The money raised by the levy was going to pay for most, but not all, of the construction costs.
City officials had contended the vote was only required by the people who own the land on which lodging facilities sit, since it only affects them.
“The convention center expansion is critically important for our regional economy,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “It would create thousands of good jobs and ensure that we continue to attract large conventions like Comic-Con. We will be working with the City Attorney’s Office to review all options in moving forward.”
About 130,000 people attended this year’s Comic-Con. Organizers of the annual event have been courted by other cities hoping to lure it away through the prospect of larger facilities.
The show filled the convention center, and events also were held at nearby hotels.
The addition of 740,000 square feet would give San Diego’s convention center the largest amount of contiguous floor space on the West Coast. Tourism officials contend that having the floor space all together is a top priority for trade show planners.
However, the appellate ruling likely means the expansion won’t happen anytime soon. Comic-Con is committed to San Diego only through 2016.
Appellate Justices Cynthia Aaron, Judith McConnell and Terry O’Rourke said they understood the city’s desire to make the convention center bigger, but were duty-bound to uphold the Constitution and charter.
They returned the case to Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager, who issued an initial ruling upholding the funding plan.
Jerry Sanders, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, call the appeals court’s ruling “a great loss for our city.”
“It is unfortunate that this project will now be delayed even further, increasing the strain on our city’s ability to attract convention business that bolsters the economy and creates thousands of jobs for San Diegans,” Sanders said.
He added that chamber officials were “hopeful that the city can work to put together a new plan that will meet the necessary legal requirements and allow the expansion project to move forward.”
— City News Service
National University Announces New School Dean
National University has appointed Steven Lorenzet as the new dean of the School of Business and Management, effective today. Lorenzet was previously with Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., where he served as dean of the College of Business Administration.
During his tenure at Rider, Lorenzet was instrumental in securing academic-industry collaborations such as an MBA program for Bank of America employees and an Executive MBA (EMBA) program for Waste Management employees, as well as increasing international study opportunities for students in coordination with higher education institutions in China, Taiwan and France.
Lorenzet also was dean of the Nathan Weiss Graduate College at Kean University.
Local Advisors Purchases Office Property
Locale Advisors Inc. a new real estate investment firm, has completed its second San Diego property acquisition in less than 30 days with the purchase of 5015 Shoreham Place in San Diego for $3.9 million. The seller was Cliffwood California LLC. The Shoreham Place transaction follows the company’s purchase of the Torrey Reserve West campus in July for $39.2 million.
Locale Advisors said it will begin immediate renovations. Improvements will include high exposed ceilings, glass roll-up doors, and new outdoor amenity space.
Cushman & Wakefield was the broker.
San Diego Planning Director to Depart for Rice University
City Planning Director Bill Fulton has resigned to take a position at Rice University. Fulton, who was hired last year by ex-Mayor Bob Filner, considered a visionary in his field, was once vice president of policy for Smart Grown America. He was leading a new division that was recently broken off from the city’s Development Services Department.
In a memo to members of the City Council, Deputy Chief Operating Officer David Graham lauded Fulton for bringing forward long-stalled updates to community plans for some neighborhoods. Those plans deal with zoning, density and community character issues.
Fulton, whose resignation becomes effective at the end of this month, will become the director of the Kinder Institute of Urban Research at Rice. It will not be his first foray into academia. He also served as a fellow at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Fulton has published several books, including “Guide to California Planning,” that has been issued in multiple printings. He had a best seller in “The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles,” and also was a co-author of “The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl.”
— Times of San Diego/City News Service
San Diego Leaders Want New System
To Test Water Quality at Local Beaches
San Diego’s civic and environmental leaders are urging passage of legislation that will allow use of a new system that tests water quality at local beaches and provides much faster results than the current method.
Senate Bill 1395, authored by Sen. Marty Block (D-Lemon Grove), would authorize local health officers to use a polymerase chain reaction testing method, a fast and inexpensive technique used to copy small segments of DNA but that can also be applied for water quality testing.
Block and other supporters of the new method say results would be available in around four hours, instead of the current 24-48 hours.
“SB 1395 safeguards the public and protects local economies,” Block said at a news conference. “We want the public alerted to any health danger as quickly as possible. We also want beaches reopened as soon as possible for visitors to enjoy once safety is assured.”
Local officials for years have focused on testing of beach water quality as not just a health issue, but an economic one since San Diego’s coastline is a major draw for tourists. At the same time, water along the shoreline can be fouled by runoff following rainstorms or sewage discharged from the Tijuana River.
Swimming, surfing or participating in other activities in polluted water can result in stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis and hepatitis, according to Block.
Symposium Spotlights Craft Beer Industry
With craft breweries sprouting in North County and bringing revenue and tourists to the region, the San Diego North Economic Development Council on Wednesday will host the first North County Craft Brew Symposium Currently there are 10 breweries and two wineries in Vista alone, according to the Vista Brewers Guild, and many breweries in Carlsbad, San Marcos and Escondido.
The event will explore the economic impact of the craft beer industry in North County, how the region can support and grow this industry, as well as the ancillary services that serve craft breweries.
National University’s Institute for Police Researchwill keynote the conference with a special report on the industry in North County, and Melissa Ryan of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will answer questions about licensing.
Four panel discussions will explore such topics as “Best Practices and Barriers to Craft Brew” and “Regulation and Distribution.”
The symposium takes place Wednesday, Aug. 6, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Vista Civic Center.