Daily Business Report-Sept. 11, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and restaurant workers as he signed a bill the guarantees three paid sick leave for California workers. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Brown Press Office)
‘Putting Workers First,’ Governor
Signs Paid Sick Leave Legislation
A bill authored by a San Diego legislator to provide three annual paid sick days to workers in California was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Brown signed AB 1522, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) at the state building in Los Angeles.
“Whether you’re a dishwasher in San Diego or a store clerk in Oakland, this bill frees you of having to choose between your family’s health and your job,” Brown said. “Make no mistake, California is putting its workers first.”
The governor said 40 percent of workers in the state don’t accrue paid sick leave. California is just the second state in the nation to have such a requirement for workers who would not otherwise be granted sick time, according to the governor’s office. Connecticut has a similar law, but Gonzalez said California’s is more expansive.
“We become the first state in the nation to guarantee paid sick days for every single private-sector worker in the state — no matter what industry they work in, no matter if they are part-time or seasonal, and regardless of the size of their employer,” she said. “This means more than 6.5 million more workers in this state will be able to take up to three days off when they or their child is sick without fearing the loss of income, hours or their job.”
The law, which will take effect July 1, requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work 30 or more days within a year from the start of their employment. Workers will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
Over the objections of union leaders, the bill was amended to provide exemptions for health care aides who work with disabled or elderly residents through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program.
The bill was strongly opposed by Republicans and business groups, who said the requirement will create a burden for employers. Assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine) called it “ill-considered” and “heavy-handed.”
Supporters say employees who do not receive paid leave have to come to work while ill, even in jobs that involve public contact or food preparation. Many workers also have to choose between going to work or caring for a sick loved one, they say.
In San Diego, meanwhile, a new ordinance that will raise the minimum wage to a level above the state standard provides five paid sick days.
Opponents are gathering signatures to overturn the San Diego ordinance, primarily because of the minimum wage increase.
— City News Service
Disney Wonder to Kick Off 2014-2015 Cruise Season
Disney Cruise Line will kick off the 2014-2015 cruise season on Friday with the arrival of the year’s first ship, the Disney Wonder, at Broadway Pier. The vessel, carrying more than 2,100 passengers, will set sail from San Diego on Friday on a 15-day Panama Canal voyage that will stop in Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After traveling through the Panama Canal, the vessel will stop in Cartagena, Colombia and Cozumel, Mexico before ending the cruise at Port Canaveral, Fla.
The Disney Wonder will return with three more cruises leaving from San Diego in Spring 2015, followed by seven calls in fall 2015. Itineraries include a three-day weekend getaway, a six-day Baja California, Mexico cruise and a 15-day Panama Canal cruise. The 2015 Disney sailings are on sale now.
The Port of San Diego’s cruise season runs from September through May. Currently 76 vessels are scheduled to arrive. Other cruise lines scheduled to visit San Diego in the 2014-2015 season include Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania and Crystal Cruises.
Oceanside Council Approves Big Resort Project
OCEANSIDE — A $150 million resort development being planned in downtown Oceanside includes what would be that city’s first full-service hotel, as it seeks its share of a growing influx of North County coastal visitors and related economic benefits.
The Oceanside City Council on Wednesday approved an agreement with developer S.D. Malkin Properties to build a two-hotel destination resort
with a total of at least 360 guest rooms, spanning two contiguous blocks of downtown Oceanside. The project would include commercial space, a large ballroom and underground parking.
Poway Walmart to Hire 85 Workers for Supercenter
POWAY — Walmart will hire about 85 people to work at the Walmart Supercenter expansion that will open this fall. The Supercenter is an expansion of the current Walmart store to add fresh groceries. The expansion was approved by the Poway City Council in 2011 and is under construction.
A temporary hiring kiosk has opened at the store located at 13425 Community Road.
Applications will be accepted seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight. Interested applicants may also apply online at http://careers.walmart.com.
Through its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, the company will offer a job to any qualified veteran who has been honorably discharged within the past 12 months. Interested veterans may find out more at http://walmartcareerswithamission.com.
Walmart provides a benefits program to eligible full- and part-time employees. The majority of new hires will begin work this month to help prepare the store for the grand opening.
USD Hires Group of Female Professors in STEM
The University of San Diego announced the hiring of an interdisciplinary group of eight new female science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) professors as part of an effort to become a model for undergraduate institutions striving to increase diversity and the number of women in those fields.
The formation of the group of eight professors in the College of Arts and Sciences and Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering was supported by a five-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation designed to increase the participation and advancement of female faculty in the STEM and social science fields.
Joan Schellinger, one of the new hires, is a native of the Philippines and a chemistry professor who does research on peptides, promising molecules that have versatile applications in therapeutics and biomaterials. She said she is excited to begin partnering with her new colleagues. “I see great potential” in collaboration involving biology, neuroscience and engineering, said Schellinger.
In addition to Schellinger, the group includes: Jessica Bell, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Molly Burke, Department of Biology; Odesma Dalrymple, Industrial Engineering; Imane Khalil, Mechanical Engineering; Jennifer Prairie, Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences; and Amanda Ruiz, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.
Scripps Launches Test of AirStrip System
Software delivers clinical patient data to physicians’ mobile devices
Scripps Health has launched a pilot study of AirStrip ONE, a software system that delivers data from multiple hospital-based patient monitoring systems to mobile devices used by physicians both within and outside the hospital.
“This system gives doctors near real-time access to a wide range of patient vital signs from wherever they happen to be,” said Scripps Chief Medical Officer James LaBelle. “AirStrip ONE has the potential to enhance patient outcomes by speeding the delivery of care.”
The system is being used in Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla’s first-floor critical care unit on post-open heart surgery patients, trauma patients, surgical intensive care patients and others who are critically ill and require close monitoring. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants who work with these patients are also using the mobile data delivery system.
The 60-day pilot is expected to end in early October. Once completed, Scripps physicians and other clinical leaders will consider broadening the use of the AirStrip ONE system more widely and determining how it can be used to further enhance patient care.
AirStrip ONE is made by AirStrip Technologies,Inc.
SmartDrive Systems Relocates HQ
SmartDrive Systems has relocated its corporate headquarters to 9450 Carroll Park Drive in San Diego;s Sorrento Valley. The 25,000-square-foot facility offers a 35 percent increase in space, supporting the company’s continued growth, and housing cross-functional teams, including executive leadership, operations, marketing and sales divisions, and the previously-offsite warehouse, which processes inventory and handles customer deliveries and customer on-boarding.
“Our business has grown significantly over the past three years and the additional space is a key component for ongoing expansion,” said Steve Mitgang, CEO of SmartDrive.
SmartDrive delivers a video-based safety program that is focused on identifying unsafe driving and preventing it from happening in the future.
Customers who use SmartDrive see up to 70 percent reduction in collision frequency and costs in the first year, according to the company.
POGO Gets Marine Corps Contract
For Staffing at Camp Pendleton
Personnel on the Go Inc. (POGO) has been awarded a 5 1/2 year, multi-million-dollar contract to providing staffing on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, which services the U.S. Marine Corps in California, Nevada, and Arizona. POGO will be providing transportation support, commercial drivers, dispatchers, forklift operators, and clerical support.
“We are honored to be providing service to the U.S Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton,” says Debby Munoz, President of POGO. “After many years of pursuing government certifications the partnership has finally come to fruition.”
POGO is an SBA HUBZone certified, woman-owned small business serving government and corporate clients. POGO offers workforce management services, including recruiting and screening professional job candidates, payroll and time attendance management, on-site supervision, and specialty staffing solutions.
UC San Diego Professor Honored
For Role in Eye Disease Therapy
Napoleone Ferrara, professor of pathology and adjunct professor of ophthalmology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, was named as one of seven recipients of the António Champalimaud Vision Award in Lisbon, Portugal. The 2014 António Champalimaud Vision Award was bestowed for the development of anti-angiogenic therapy for retinal disease. The therapy is used to treat age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, which are the leading causes of blindness in high- and middle-income countries.
Ferrara shared the award with six researchers from Harvard Medical School.
Personnel Moves …
Parsons Brinckerhoff Hires Planning Manager
Seth Torma has been named senior planning manager in the San Diego office of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a consulting, engineering and construction management organization. Torma will lead the firm’s planning practice in the San Diego region, focusing on integrating transportation and land use planning to create sustainable cities. He will also serve as project adviser for the California Border Bicycle and Pedestrian Study.
Torma has 17 years of transportation planning and engineering experience with a focus on active transportation and complete streets. He has managed projects involving various aspects of transportation on both regional and neighborhood scales. Prior to joining Parsons Brinckerhoff, he managed transportation planning, traffic engineering, and civil design practices for a San Diego engineering firm.
J. Craig Venter Institute Hires COO
The J. Craig Venter Institute, a nonprofit genomic research organization, has hired Nicole DeBerg as chief operating officer. Previously, DeBerg served as chief financial officer and vice president of financial services at the San Diego Housing Commission. In her new role, she will be responsible for a variety of operational functions, including finance and sponsored projects.
UCSD’s to Present Dinner in the Library
UCSD’s 11th annual Dinner in the Library will take place Friday in the Geisel Library building, with proceeds benefiting the UC San Diego Library’s collections and services, which support student and faculty research and teaching. The evening’s festivities will include dinner and cocktails, a silent auction, and a keynote talk from internationally recognized biographer Noël Riley Fitch on “Sharing Julia Child’s Appetite for Life.”
Fitch wrote the first authorized biography of Julia Child, titled “Appetite for Life.” As part of the evening, Fitch will give attendees a look at Child’s incredible life.
As part of the evening, Dorothy Gregor will be honored with the 2014 Geisel Citation for Library Philanthropy for playing an integral role in the growth and success of the UC San Diego Library. She served as university librarian from 1985 to 1992.
Tickets for Dinner in the Library are available for $225 per person or $1,800 per table. Cocktails and the silent auction begin at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and Fitch’s talk following at 7 p.m. For more information or to register for the dinner, visit: library.ucsd.edu/about/dinner.
Southland Home Sales Sputter;
Median Sale Price Hits 80-Month High
Southern California home sales slipped to a four-year low for August as would-be buyers faced inventory and affordability challenges and investor purchases held at the lowest level in several years. The median sale price climbed to a post-recession high, a real estate information service reported.
A total of 18,796 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 7.7 percent from 20,369 sales in July, and down 18.5 percent from 23,057 sales in August 2013, according to CoreLogic DataQuick data.
On average, sales have risen 3.7 percent between July and August since 1988, when CoreLogic DataQuick statistics begin. Southland sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis for 11 consecutive months. Sales during the month of August have ranged from a low of 16,379 in 1992 to a high of 39,562 in 2003. Last month’s sales were 28.2 percent below the August average of 26,169 sales.
The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the six-county region last month was $420,000, up 1.7 percent from $413,000 in July and up 9.1 percent from $385,000 in August 2013. Last month’s median was the highest for any month since December 2007, when it was $425,000. The median’s 9.1 percent year-over-year gain in August was the highest in three months. But it also marked the third consecutive month with a single-digit annual increase following 22 months of double-digit year-over-year gains as high as 28.3 percent.
“There was certainly pressure on home values this summer but some of that jump in the August median sale price appears to reflect a shift in market mix. A slightly higher share of sales occurred in the more expensive coastal markets, and that can nudge up the median. Nevertheless, prices are high enough to be a hurdle for a lot of potential buyers, even though mortgage rates have fallen in recent months. And price isn’t the only impediment. Some still struggle to qualify for a loan or to mend their household finances in the wake of the Great Recession. Others are simply waiting for price appreciation to give them enough equity in their homes to make a move up,” said Andrew LePage, an analyst with Irvine-based CoreLogic DataQuick.
Last month three counties – San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange – logged single-digit, year-over-year gains in their median sale prices, while Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties saw double-digit increases. Orange County’s $590,000 August median was the closest – within 8.5 percent – to its all-time peak of $645,000 in June 2007.
For the Southland overall the August median stood 16.8 percent below the peak $505,000 median in spring/summer 2007.
Home prices have been rising at different rates depending on price segment. In August, the lowest-cost third of the region’s housing stock saw a 13.1 percent year-over-year increase in the median price paid per square foot for resale houses. The annual gain was 7.9 percent for the middle third of the market and 4.3 percent for the top, most-expensive third.
The number of homes that sold for $500,000 or more last month fell 0.6 percent compared with a year earlier. But sales below $500,000 fell 16.3 percent year-over-year. Sales below $200,000 dropped 35.6 percent. Sales in the lower price ranges are hampered by, among other things, the drop in affordability over the last year, a fussy mortgage market and a relatively low inventory of homes for sale.
In August, 37.2 percent of all Southland home sales were for $500,000 or more, up from 37.1 percent in July and up from 33.3 percent in August 2013. The $500,000-plus level peaked for this year in June at 38.1 percent.
Distressed property sales continued to fade as a market force.
Foreclosure resales – homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – represented 5.0 percent of the Southland resale market last month. That was down from 5.2 percent the prior month and down from 7.0 percent a year earlier. In recent months the foreclosure resale rate has been the lowest since early 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009.
Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 5.9 percent of Southland resales last month. That was up slightly from 5.8 percent the prior month and down from 11.5 percent a year earlier.
Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 23.5 percent of the Southland homes sold last month. That tied the July level as the lowest absentee share since December 2010, when 23.4 percent of homes sold to absentee buyers. Last month’s figure was down from 26.7 percent a year earlier. The peak was 32.4 percent in January 2013, while the monthly average since 2000, when the CoreLogic DataQuick absentee data begin, is about 19 percent.
Cash purchases hovered near a 5.5-year low last month. Buyers paying cash accounted for 24.4 percent of August home sales, up a hair from a revised 24.1 percent in July and down from 28.4 percent in August last year. The July 2014 figure was the lowest since January 2009, when 22.0 percent of Southland homes were bought with cash. The peak was 36.9 percent in February 2013, and since 1988 the monthly average is 16.6 percent.
In August, Southern California home buyers committed a total of $4.57 billion of their own money in the form of down payments or cash purchases. That was up from a revised $4.49 billion in July. The out-of-pocket total peaked in May 2013 at $5.41 billion.
Although credit conditions remain fairly tight, the use of larger “jumbo” home loans and adjustable-rate mortgages has generally trended higher this year compared with last, edging toward more normal levels.
Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 32.3 percent of last month’s Southland purchase lending, which is unchanged from July and the highest level since the credit crunch struck in August 2007. Last month’s figure was up from 27.0 percent a year earlier. Prior to August 2007 jumbos accounted for around 40 percent of the home loan market. The jumbo level dropped to as low as 9.3 percent in January 2009.
In August, 13.3 percent of Southland home purchase loans were adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), down slightly from 13.6 percent in July and up from 11.7 percent a year ago. ARM use dropped to as low as 1.9 percent of all purchase loans in May 2009. Since 2000, a monthly average of about 31 percent of Southland purchase loans have been ARMs.
All lenders combined provided a total of $6.36 billion in mortgage money to Southern California home buyers in August, down from a revised $6.51 billion in July and down from $6.51 billion in August last year.
The typical monthly mortgage payment Southland buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $1,624, up from a revised $1,602 the month before and up from $1,553 a year earlier. Adjusted for inflation, last month’s typical payment was 33.6 percent below the typical payment in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 45.6 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007.