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Daily Business Report — Sept. 2 2014

Daily Business Report — Sept. 2 2014

 The Boardroom, one of the finalists in the mobile ‘parklet’ competition to be decided today.

Downtown San Diego Partnership

To Announce Mobile ‘Parklet’ Winner Today

A contest to design a mini-park that can move from place to place in Downtown San Diego is down to three finalists. Downtown San Diego Partnership, the downtown-advocacy nonprofit organizing the contest, will pick the winner based on a poll on its Facebook page.

The Contoured Curve entry.

The Contoured Curve entry.

The winner will be announced today. The finished project will then be unveiled on Sept. 19. The city of San Diego will give $5,000 to fund construction of the winning design.

The three finalists are

• The Boardroom, which has a series of benches surrounding an elevated stage.

• The Urban Nook, a garden space that can be wrapped up into a box and moved.

• Contoured Curves has a wave-like design of wooden planks that can be rolled to new locations.

Kris Michell, CEO of Downtown San Diego Partnership, said all three “parklets,” or mini-parks, could bring new life to unused spaces in Downtown because they’re easy to set up and move. “Parklets are great, but now they’ve gone to moving parklets, because we get to try these out in different spaces,” she said. “And so every community in Downtown is going to experience this parklet.”

Urban Nook entry

Urban Nook entry

Her organization backs a strategy called “tactical urbanism,” which means creating quick, cheap and sometimes temporary projects that draw foot traffice to Downtown spaces. In June, they helped install a temporary pocket park in a vacant lot at 13th Avenue and J Street.

In this contest, Michell said more than 20 design entries were received, 11 of which were valid.





San Diego County Special Elections

Could Become Vote-By-Mail Only

A vote by mail ballot

A vote by mail ballot

The next special election held in San Diego County could be handled completely by mail if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill headed to his desk.

The bill by state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) was passed by the Assembly 44-24 and the state Senate 24-8 last week. If signed by the governor, it would let any special election to fill an open legislative or congressional seat held in San Diego County be done completely by mail.

The bill would make San Diego County a pilot program for other counties, Gonzalez said. Under the program, if the county Registrar of Voters opted to hold a special election by mail, every registered voter would be mailed a ballot with a return stamp already on it. Voters could also vote in person on the weekend before an election, or on Election Day at a few polls across the county.

Gonzalez said vote-by-mail elections would increase turnout and save money. “We know more and more voters are voting by mail, we want to make it easier to vote by mail, and we want to provide access to everybody, and we want to save the county’s money,” she said.

Gonzalez said the bill also has no opposition from voter access groups, so she’s hopeful the governor will sign it into law.


New Data Center Inaugurated at San Diego State

San Diego State University on Friday inaugurated a new center that will use data mining and advanced visual techniques to help industry, government agencies and emergency responders.

An example of one of the data visualizations from San Diego State University’s Center for Information Convergence and Strategy.

An example of one of the data visualizations from San Diego State University’s Center for Information Convergence and Strategy.

Andre Skupin and Akshay Pottathil, co-directors of the Center for Information Converence and Strategy, showed how base maps overlaid with data can reveal “hidden patterns and relationships” that can guide decision makers.

The directors showed how information as varied as musical styles, the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, cell phone use and medical research trends could be laid out in map form.

Skupin said the center uses geographic concepts to visualize data and trends that don’t involve geography.

“What we have here is very diverse data turned into visualization for practical use,” he said.

Peters said it is appropriate for San Diego to lead the way with a collaborative approach to visualizing information, noting that it could help in Washington.

“People ask me what is the most surprising thing about Washington, DC. It’s the culture. San Diego has a collaborative culture. We are very comfortable sitting around the table and addressing solutions,” he said.

Officials expect that when a natural disaster strikes, agencies can call upon the center for help in quickly visualizing the extent of a problem.

— Times of San Diego

Main Lobby of the hotel

Main Lobby of the hotel

Hilton San Diego Del Mar

Finishes Major Overhaul

coastalKITCHEN restaurant

coastalKITCHEN restaurant

Hilton San Diego Del Mar has completed a major renovation of the hotel that includes the lobby, business center, fitness center, restaurant, meeting spaces and all 257 guest rooms. The multimillion-dollar improvements were funded by Wheelock Street Capital and Sage Hospitality.

Guest rooms were given all new furniture, carpet and lighting fixtures. New flooring, modern furniture and contemporary magenta accents run throughout the property including the meeting and event space. The Hilton San Diego Del Mar features seven meeting rooms and a 6,000-square-foot ballroom, upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment for weddings and major events.

Improvements included hotel’s signature coastalKITCHEN restaurant.


$350 Million in Bonds Sold to Finance

Key Transportation Improvements

Mid-Coast Trolley extension from Old Town to University City is one of the projects to be funded.

Mid-Coast Trolley extension from Old Town to University City is one of the projects to be funded.

Capitalizing on favorable market conditions and strong investor demand, SANDAG has sold $350 million in tax-exempt, fixed-rate bonds at an exceptionally low 3.85 percent interest rate to finance key transportation improvements in the region.

With investors willing to pay a premium for the bonds, the bond issuance generated proceeds totaling $404 million — $54 million more than the face value of the bonds. The low interest rate at which the bonds were sold means that more taxpayer money will go toward project construction, rather than debt service.

“We will use the money strategically to accelerate the completion of a host of infrastructure improvements that will benefit the region’s economy and quality of life,” SANDAG Chair and Santee Councilmember Jack Dale said. “Over the next few years, we will break ground on the Mid-Coast Trolley extension from Old Town to University City and the North Coast Corridor rail, highway, and bike projects.”

Ahead of the bond issuance, SANDAG was given AAA ratings in July by both Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, in recognition of its financial strength and stability.

The newly-issued debt will be repaid with tax receipts from TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation projects. TransNet was first approved by county voters in 1987 for 20 years and was extended for another 40 years in 2004.

San Diego Bike Sharing Program Delayed Yet Again

San Diego’s bike sharing program was supposed to start between January and March of this year. Then it was delayed to May, then delayed again to the end of summer. Now it’s been delayed yet again. Bill Harris, a spokesman for the city, said bike stations will be installed this month, and the program will be up and running by the end of October.

The program lets people rent a bike from a checkout station, ride it wherever they please and then return it to any other station. Costs range from $7 an hour or $15 a day for a bike, to between $20 and $30 a month for an unlimited membership.

Harris said it took longer than expected to work with communities on where to put the bike rental stations.

“There’s a lot of community input, fine tuning, really,” he said. “Really no problems, just they had druthers about some of the spaces rather than the ones that were proposed.”

In July 2013, the City Council approved a 10-year partnership with the private company DecoBike to supply bikes and set up checkout stations. DecoBike will pay $7.2 million for the bikes and stations and will give the city a chunk of its profits — between $1 million and $2.6 million over 10 years.


Nominations Open for Landscape

Architects 2014 Design Awards

The San Diego chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects is inviting nominations for the 2014 Design Awards Program, which recognizes professional excellence for outstanding works of landscape architecture and environmental planning.

Entry form and payments are due by Sept. 12, and entry submittals are due Sept. 26 to the San Diego chapter office, 1050 Rosecrans St. Suite B, San Diego, CA 92106. The entry fee is $120 for ASLA members and $200 for other ASLA chapters and non-ASLA member. The entry form can be found at

USS Lake Erie. (Photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul D. Honnick/U.S. Navy)

USS Lake Erie. (Photo/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul D. Honnick/U.S. Navy)

Pearl Harbor Gives Up Ship to San Diego

The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie left its longtime home port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Friday for its new base in San Diego, according to the Navy.

The 567-foot vessel is scheduled to receive an overhaul after it arrives here and then join the rotation of ships that deploy to the Western Pacific for ballistic missile defense assignments.

The Lake Erie was replaced in the islands by the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, which had been based in San Diego. The destroyer will be used for missile interception tests.

Commissioned at Pearl Harbor 21 years ago, the Lake Erie is named for a naval battle in the War of 1812 that became famous for the motto, “Don’t give up the ship!”

The cruiser, with its crew of 400, returned to Hawaii in June from its most recent deployment, which lasted four months. The Navy has not announced when it will arrive in San Diego.

— City News Service

Preuss Named Nation’s Top Change-Making School

The Preuss School at UC San Diego

The Preuss School at UC San Diego

The Preuss School at UC San Diego was named the top change-making high school in the country in The Daily Beast’s annual ranking of the nation’s public high schools.

Preuss is No. 1 in the “25 Doing the Most With Least” category, which acknowledges the impact of low income levels on education, and recognizes successful schools with high poverty levels.

A charter middle and high school on the UC San Diego campus, Preuss enrolls students from low-income backgrounds who will be the first in their families to graduate from college.

Preuss was ranked 195th overall in The Daily Beast’s listing, and further recognized as the top school for free or reduced lunches, as well as in the top 100 of “College Bound” schools. The overall rankings were developed from school surveys and used six criteria- graduation and college acceptance rates, college-level courses and exams, percentage of students with free or reduced lunch, as well as SAT and ACT scores- to determine place.

This year, Preuss was also named the top high school in San Diego County, and the 5th best school in California by US World & News.

Omnitracs Acquires XRS Corporation

San Diego-based Omnitracs LLC, a provider of fleet management services, has agreed to acquire XRS Corporation, which provides fleet optimization software, for $178 million. XRS delivers software services that help trucking companies manage their fleets, comply with regulations, and reduce operating costs.

“This agreement to purchase XRS represents another milestone in the renewed growth of Omnitracs and further demonstrates our continued commitment to retaining and advancing our position as the leading software provider within the transportation and logistics industry,” said John Graham, CEO of Omnitracs.

In December 2013, Omnitracs acquired Roadnet Technologies, a provider of fleet management software solutions to private fleets. Other previous acquisitions include Sylectus and FleetRisk Advisors, which is now Omnitracs Analytics.

Personnel Moves

Roberts Reappointed to Parole Board

Brian Roberts, 61, of Santee, has been reappointed to the Board of Parole Hearings by Gov. Jerry Brown. Roberts has served since 2012 and was a deputy commissioner from 2006 to 2012. He served in several positions at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department from 1975 to 2006, including commander, captain, lieutenant, sergeant and deputy. The position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $117,504. Roberts is a Republican.

CPA Firm Promotes Staffers

Ashlynn Smothermon has been promoted to accounting manager and Natalie Elser has been promoted to tax supervisor at local CPA firm RBTK LLP.

Smothermon is in her sixth year with the firm after joining in 2008 as a senior staff accountant. Rising from her hiring position to accounting supervisor and now to accounting manager, Smothermon is responsible for implementing systems for collecting, analyzing, verifying, and reporting financial information for clients.

Elser joined the firm in 2012. Before that she was a tax accountant at Cathy Helmstadter & Associates for four years. As tax supervisor, Elser is responsible for complying with legal tax issues for RBTK’s clients.


The Heartless Bastards

The Heartless Bastards

More Than 100 Musical

Acts to Perform at the

Adams Avenue Street Fair

The 33rd annual Adams Avenue Street Fair comes to Normal Heights on Saturday, Sept. 27, and Sunday, Sept. 28, and will feature more than 100 musical acts, beer gardens, a beer tase, carnival rides, food and crafts booths and more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. There’s no admission.

Big Jay McNeely

Big Jay McNeely

Headliners will include the Austin-based quartet Heartless Bastards, San Diego rockers the Burning of Rome, R&B tenor saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, indi artists the Album Leaf, the Nervous Wreckords featuring former Louis XIV guitarist Brian Karscig, Indiana’s blues/rock/funk trio the Kinsey Report, English reggae singer/toaster Pato Banton, singer/songwriter Tom Brosseau, and salsa band Charlie Chavez y su Afro Truko.

Also performing are: River City, Sara Petite & the Sugar Daddy’s, The She’s, The Loons, Hills Like Elephants, Robin Henkel and Mama Tokus, Missy Andersen, Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra, Taryn Donath Trio, Bill Magee Blues Band, Revival, Javier Escovedo & the City Lights, Dave Humphries Band, Combo Libertad, Bass Clef Experiment, The Bixby Knolls, Lisa Sanders, Jeff Berkley, The Baja Bugs and the Earful.


Click here for band bios

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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: