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Daily Business Report-Feb. 16, 2015

Daily Business Report-Feb. 16, 2015

The rules will eventually open the national airspace to businesses that want to use drones to deliver packages, to take photographs or shoot video.

Drone On

FAA Unveils Draft Rules for Commercial

Operation of Remote-Controlled Aircraft

Small drones could become a familiar sight across the nation’s skies if the government adopts proposals that are largely favorable to commercial use of the remote-controlled aircraft.

An economic analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration envisions small drones — defined as those weighing 55 pounds or less — routinely taking off to perform aerial photography, crop monitoring and mapping, inspections of cell towers and bridges and many others commercial tasks.

The FAA released the draft rules on Sunday. The rules have been in the works for years and were submitted to the White House budget office in October for review.

The rules will eventually open the national airspace to businesses that want to use drones to deliver packages, to take photographs or shoot video.

Drones have been growing in popularity and while hobbyist are permitted to fly (UAS) Unmanned Aircraft Systems under certain restrictions, commercial operators have largely been grounded. These rules and regulations will eventually change all of that. Make no mistake about it there is a lot of money at stake. The economic impact according to some estimates is roughly $100 million annually.

The regulations would improve safety by using small, lightweight unmanned aircraft instead of heavier, manned aircraft that “pose a higher level of risk,” the analysis said. It notes that between 2004 and 2012, there were 95 fatalities involving climbers working on cell and other towers.

If the rules would prevent only one fatality by using a small drone instead of a tower climber, the $9.2 million saved — the amount the government says is the economic value of a single life — would exceed the entire cost of the regulations to society, according to the document.

The analysis does not offer a total estimate on the annual economic benefit of regulations but says it would exceed $100 million a year. For example, about 45,000 annual bridge inspections could be conducted with small drones. Most bridge inspections currently employ hydraulic mobile cranes called “snoopers.” The average cost of an inspection using a snooper is $3,250. Cable bridge inspections are even more expensive because they often require a 200-foot aerial lift.

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, an industry trade association, estimates that small, commercial drones will create 70,000 jobs with an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion in the first three years after their integration into U.S. skies.

— CBS News

San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman at the Public Safety and Liveable Communities Committee Meeting. (Photo courtesy of CityTV)

San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman at the Public Safety and Liveable Communities Committee Meeting. (Photo courtesy of CityTV)

Police Union OKs New Five-Year Contract

The San Diego Police Officers Association announced Friday that 88 percent of its membership voted to approve a tentative five-year contract with the city.

The deal includes pay raises of 3.3 percent in each of the final two years of the deal, which was detailed by city and police leaders last week and still needs final approval by the City Council.

The agreement is aimed at stopping an outflow of experienced officers who have been leaving for higher pay at nearby law enforcement agencies.

Changes in the first three years impact benefits that will not increase salaries but will boost take-home pay.

“This ratification is an important step forward for our department,” said Brian Marvel, president of the SDPOA. “This contract is geared toward addressing the recruiting and retention issues our department has faced for several years.”

Officers have been leaving the SDPD at the rate of eight to 12 per month for several years now. Even though the department hired 160 new officers in the last fiscal year, it lost 162.

The city budget for the current fiscal year calls for 2,013 officers, but in recent years, the SDPD has actually employed 100 or so fewer than allowed. City leaders have an ultimate goal of returning to the Fiscal Year 2009 staffing level of 2,128 officers.

The package is structured to focus on incentive-based increases and is geared toward officers who reach specific experience requirements, according to the mayor’s office.

A bipartisan contingent of four council members attended a news conference last week to announce the tentative deal, so passage is not expected to be a problem.

— City News Service

 United Way Seeking to Give Away

$2 Million to Youth-Oriented Projects

United Way of San Diego County is seeking to give away $2 million to groups working to help the youngest San Diegans from birth through third grade.

Through its “Collective Impact” framework the organization hopes to seed, build and expand networks of nonprofits, health providers, schools, government, businesses and other community-based organizations that are working on two goals: getting children ready for kindergarten and helping them to read at grade-level in the primary grades.

“Instead of individual partners separately trying to help children in San Diego, we are seeking groups of partners who agree on a collective goal and pool their talents and resources to improve the lives of kids and their families, and then track the collective progress,” said United Way President and CEO Kevin Crawford.

United Way said efforts funded may include strategies that increase positive parenting, quality preschool education, social-emotional health, family stability and wellness. A plan to continue efforts beyond the initial funding period is a critical requirement, the nonprofit said.

Funding for the grants was made possible from the support of companies around the San Diego region, including AT&T, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, GEICO, NASSCO, Solar Turbines, UPS and many others.

United Way said initial applications are due Mar. 11.

Organizations can click here to apply online.

— Times of San Diego

Institute for Evidence-Based Change Receives

$1 Million Grant From James Irvine Foundation

The James Irvine Foundation has awarded the Institute for Evidence-Based Change in Encinitas (IEBC) a $1 million, one-year grant to continue data support for Linked Learning schools and provide data to research/evaluation partners and other stakeholders in the Linked Learning field.

According to IEBC, research is showing that compared with their peers, students in certified Linked Learning pathways earn more credits in the first three years of high school, report greater confidence in their life and career skills, and say they are experiencing more rigorous, integrated and relevant instruction. At the recent inaugural Linked Learning Convention, IEBC led crowded sessions on using data to improve learning.

IEBC is a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to improving academic success for all students. IEBC helps education stakeholders use data and information to make to make informed decisions, improve practice, and increase student success.

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. Since 1937, the Foundation has provided over $1.3 billion in grants to more than 3,500 nonprofit organizations throughout California.

Poll: Legislature’s Approval Rating

Up, Jerry Brown at Record High

Gov. Jerry Brown’s job approval rating is at a record high, and Californians are in such good spirits that even the Legislature and President Barack Obama’s ratings are rebounding, according to a new poll.

In the first month of Brown’s historic fourth term, 61 percent of California adults approve of the way he is handling his job, according to the poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. That is up from 54 percent in December and runs 20 percentage points higher than when Brown took office in January 2011.

Forty-nine percent of adults approve of the way the Legislature is handling its job, the body’s highest rating since 2002. Obama’s job approval rating among Californians has risen to 60 percent, its highest point since mid-2013.

Improving marks for California politicians reflects an overall improvement in the public’s mood. Fifty-seven percent of adults say things in California are generally going in the right direction, up from 50 percent in December, according to the poll.

Thirty-six percent of Californians say things are generally on the wrong track.

Democrats and independent voters are far more likely than Republicans to hold a positive outlook. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents say things are going in the right direction, while less than one-quarter of Republicans feel that way in this heavily Democratic state.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who announced this month that she will not seek re-election next year, saw her job approval rating rise to 53 percent among California adults, up 12 percentage points from September, according to the poll. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s job approval rating among adults stands at 54 percent.

Thirty-eight percent of California adults approve of the newly elected Congress, up from 24 percent in October, according to the poll.

— Sacramento Bee

610 West Ash (left) is back on the market, and the iconic Emerald Plaza (right) soon might be.

610 West Ash (left) is back on the market, and the iconic Emerald Plaza (right) soon might be.

Tech Swarms San Diego

Who Wants to Buy a High Rise?

By Jason Hughes

Downtown San Diego is continuing to heat up as tech companies swarm the few remaining high-end creative office spaces available. Northern California-based internet phenom Houzz just signed a lease at DiamondView Tower (350 Tenth Ave.) in the outfield of Petco Park for $3.60 per square foot (start rate) — more than a dollar per square foot over normal Class A downtown office rent. And this was for the 6th floor.

Calling all building buyers… Emerald Plaza is rumored to be coming on the market in the coming months. Fresh off a high-end lobby remodel — and significant leasing activity of the few remaining view spaces — this will be a great opportunity for an investor to own one of Downtown’s most recognizable landmark buildings.

Back on the market is 610 West Ash, also known as the ESET Building, which fell out of escrow to Cruzan/Rockwood. Rockwood opted to ultimately pass on closing escrow. Another great opportunity to own prime real estate in Little Italy, which was recently named the millennial capital of the U.S. and is home to many startups and creative power houses.

Jason Hughes is president and CEO of Hughes Marino a commercial real estate company with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Century City, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

A call for nominations

A call for nominations

Call For Best Lawyer Nominations

Get your nominations in for Best Lawyers of San Diego.

The nominations are due by Friday, March 13. To submit a nomination, visit and click on the “Nominate” bar at the top right. Fill in the nomination form that appears and click “Submit.” Or, send your nominations to

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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: