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Daily Business Report-March 24, 2015

Daily Business Report-March 24, 2015

A city garbage truck on its rounds.

Taxpayers Group: Time to End

Free Garbage Pickup in San Diego

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s board says its time to get rid of the ordinance that prohibits the city from charging a fee for collecting trash from single-family homes.

The People’s Ordinance, as it is called, was enacted in 1919, after citizens discovered the city was selling to pig farmers the waste it was charging residents to collect.

“By repealing the 96-year-old ordinance, the city could outsource waste collection or recoup its cost for performing this service, which drains more than $41 million from the General Fund each year,” the board said in a release.

Eliminating the ordinance would require an amendment to the city charter, which would require a public vote.

“The ordinance is not only costly to taxpayers –swallowing a portion of the budget roughly equal to the city’s entire public library system — but it is also inequitable,” the association said. “Only single-family homes on public streets receive free trash pickup; multifamily homes and those on private streets (as in master-planned developments) must pay private haulers for their pickup. That means 40 percent of San Diego residents pay for a benefit they don’t receive.”

“The People’s Ordinance is an outdated law forcing subsidies onto a huge portion of San Diegans and diverting our tax dollars from other critical municipal needs like street maintenance,” said SDCTA President and CEO Mark Leslie. “The ordinance has little relevance nearly a century after its passage, and as an advocate for all San Diego taxpayers, we feel it’s time to address this long-standing inequity in city services.”

The taxpayers association said it will start a working group among its board members to study potential replacement waste collection mechanisms and pricing.

USD to Present ‘Big Bang Theory’ Star

And 11 Others Alumni Awards for 2015

Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons

Actor Jim Parsons and 11 others will receive alumni awards from the University of San Diego on April 25 at the 20th annual Alumni Honors program.

Parsons, star of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” and a four-time Emmy winner and Golden Globe winner, will receive the Author E. Hughes Award for Outstanding Career Achievement. The actor earned his master of fine arts degree from the Old Globe/University of San Diego graduate theater program in 2001. His latest film, “Home,” a Dreamworks animated comedy, opens March 27. This summer, he will return to Broadway in the original comedy “An Act of God.”

Local honorees include Karen P. Hewitt, a former U.S. Attorney in San Diego from 2007 to 2010 whose office achieved a record number of convictions in areas such as national security and financial crime, and prominent builder Matthew J. “Matt” Reno, the founder and CEO of Reno Contracting. Reno was elected to the University of San Diego Board of Trustees.

Karen Hewitt

Karen Hewitt

Matt Reno

Matt Reno

Lee Sorensen

Lee Sorensen

Lee C. Sorensen, a successful entrepreneur who now partners with business to prevent mass atrocities throughout Africa through the One Earth Future Foundation based in Colorado, also will be honored.

Other honorees for career achievement include Barbara A. Driscoll, a lung health researcher at USC and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; Emiliano Gallego, the general manager of Pagasa Pasta; Janine Mason, executive director of The Fieldstone Foundation; and Sandra L. Solem, associate director for patient care services and nurse executive at the VA San Diego Healthcare system.

Henry J. “Hank” Acquarelli, who taught and coached in the Poway Unified School District for more than 30 years, will receive the Bishop Charles Francis Buddy Award for contributions to humanitarian causes. Stephen and Victoria Nasman, who led the alumni chapter in Orange County for a decade, will receive the Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill Award for exemplary service to the university.

Former Torero quarterback Josh Johnson, who has played in the NFL for seven years, will be inducted into the Chet and Marguerite Pagni Family Athletic Hall of Fame.

The event begins at 6 p.m. with the awards ceremony in the University of San Diego Shiley Theatre followed by a cocktail reception. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased at or by calling (619) 260-2756.

The former Luce Auditorium

The former Luce Auditorium

New Art, Film and Dining Venue 

Coming to Point Loma’s Liberty Station

A new arts, film and dining venue will come to the NTC Arts & Culture District in Point Loma’s Liberty Station in late autumn. The NTC Foundation announced the signing of a new lease agreement with La Jolla-based Backlot Hospitality, run by Adolfo Fastlicht.

Fastlicht will open the enterprise — called The Lot/Liberty Station — at the former Luce Auditorium between Rosecrans Street and Truxtun Road.

Renovations will begin in April.

Six intimate cinemas will provide seating for 50 to 100 people, and a new outdoor covered lounge for dining and socializing will overlook historic Luce Court. Events and art will be an integral part of the offering. A similar project is underway in downtown La Jolla, THE LOT/La Jolla.

Named after Navy War College founder Stephen Bleeker Luce, the original 20,000-square-foot Luce Auditorium opened in 1941, with 2,200 seats, to screen Navy recruit training films, special event programs and general release films. During World War II, legendary stars like Bob Hope and Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra performed.  Orchestra leader Kay Kyser brought his “College of Musical Knowledge” show to Luce Auditorium in 1942 to entertain recruits at the Naval Training Center.

Dormant since the base closure in 1997, the building recently underwent a Community Needs Assessment and Operating Studies by the NTC Foundation to determine if a performance venue was viable. Reports proved it was too unwieldy and expensive for the nonprofit to transform the space into a performance venue and operate it efficiently.

“Luce Auditorium has been one of the most challenging projects for us because of the renovation costs and complexities of the expansive space,” noted Alan Ziter, executive director of the NTC Foundation, which has already completed renovations to 16 of the 26 buildings in the Arts & Culture District. “Backlot Hospitality is committed to preserving Luce Auditorium’s exterior architectural features with first-class adaptive reuse, while returning the building to its historic use, exhibiting films through the creation of a new cinema center, which was high on the community’s wish list for Liberty Station.”

Court of Appeals Schedules

Special Sitting in San Diego

Justices of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hold a special sitting on Monday, March 30,  at the Edward J. Schwartz U.S. Courthouse in Downtown San Diego to hear an appeal of a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Oral arguments will begin at 10 a.m. in the Ceremonial Courtroom (Room 4D), located at 221 West Broadway. A photo ID will be required to enter the courthouse.

The case on the docket is Timothy Blowers v. USA (Case 13-16875), in which federal prisoner Timothy Blowers appeals the denial of his habeas petition challenging his conviction of offenses arising out of his illegal creation and widening of roads, on government property, in order to improve the value of nearby private land

The appellate panel will consist of Senior Circuit Judges J. Clifford Wallace of San Diego and Mary M. Schroeder of Phoenix, and District Judge Roger T. Benitez, also of San Diego, who will sit by designation.

Rendering of the Sports Arena planned for Cal State San Marcos.

Rendering of the Sports Arena planned for Cal State San Marcos.

Cal State San Marcos Breaks

Ground for New Sports Arena

Cal State San Marcos broke ground Monday on a 1,400-seat arena for its intercollegiate basketball and volleyball teams.

The Cougars been forced to play “home” games at other North County sites the past several years because of a lack of an on-campus sports center.

“This facility is a game-changer — for our campus, our athletes and our region,” said Jen Milo, the school’s athletic director.

Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes called the athletes “the heart and soul of Cougar pride.”

CSUSM is in the process of moving from the NAIA to NCAA Division II, the same level as UC San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene.

The basketball teams have played at MiraCosta College and the women’s volleyball team at Escondido High School the last few years.

Despite the lack of a real home, the men’s basketball team has been highly ranked in the past couple of years, and completed its 2014-15 season Saturday with a 30-4 record, following an 80-76 overtime loss to Dalton State of Georgia in Kansas City.

The arena is due to be completed in the fall of 2016.

— City News Service

Council Approves Five-Year

Contract With Police Officers

The San Diego City Council on Monday unanimously approved a five-year contract with the San Diego Police Officers Association that includes 3.3 percent raises in each of the deal’s final two years.

The compensation agreement is designed to help the San Diego Police Department retain experienced officers, who have been leaving for other law enforcement agencies in droves for several years, and to recruit new cadets into the police academy.

In addition to the pay increase, the package includes equipment and uniform bonuses, and incentive-based increases.

Chief Shelley Zimmerman said the contract should put “a huge dent” in the SDPD’s retention and recruiting problems.

“What this does is it makes us competitive again with all these other agencies,” Zimmerman said. “We’re back in the market, we’re going to be able to compete to get the very best coming to our department and retaining our experienced officers to give that guidance, give that mentorship, to our younger officers.”

The deal was approved by 88 percent of the SDPOA’s membership last month.

— City News Service

Report: State’s Lax Energy Policies

Increasing Energy Costs in San Diego

A new report by the National University System Institute for Policy Research found that California’s lack of strategic coordination on energy policies is increasing energy costs in San Diego, hurting key industries, and burdening residents who are struggling to balance household budgets.

The report, titled “San Diego: Energy, the Economy and the Call for Pause” encouraged policymakers to understand how energy policies impact costs, and consider whether the new mandates are fostering a more sustainable, cost-effective energy

“Rising energy costs are impacting San Diego from many different angles,” said Erik Bruvold, president of the institute and author of the report. “Businesses must pay higher costs, which discourages investment; schools are diverting their limited resources to accommodate the rapid increase in their energy bills; and families are having to pay more for energy on top of already high housing costs, while real household income levels are flat or declining.”

According to the report, San Diegans already pay some of the highest electricity costs in the nation. Between 2000 and 2012 residential costs averaged 12 percent more per kilowatt hour for San Diego Gas & Electric customers than for customers of California’s other two investor-owned utilities. As of Feb. 17, the statewide average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in California was 19.2 percent higher than the national average. San Diego’s gas prices have traditionally run slightly higher than the state average.

Vista Wholesale Bakery

Fined for Wage Theft Violations

California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su cited a Vista-based wholesaler that sells its gourmet cookies to Whole Foods and gourmet grocery stores for multiple wage theft violations, with assessments totaling $185,055.

The investigation revealed that Cookies con Amore systematically denied overtime pay, rest breaks and meal periods to 73 workers, and forced some of them to sign a statement agreeing to the wage theft violations.

Investigators interviewed employees and conducted an audit that revealed multiple violations of minimum wage, rest and meal period laws, and overtime premiums between October 2013 and December 2014.

Employees worked shifts of 10 hours or longer, but were paid at the straight time rate without overtime compensation. They were allowed only one 30-minute daily break with no other rest and second meal periods. Some of the workers were forced to sign a written agreement consenting to substandard working conditions. If they disagreed, the workers were told to find another job.

Cookies con Amore was assessed $120,665 including $51,444 in overtime wages, and $69,221 in rest and meal time periods which will be paid to the affected workers, and an additional $63,800 in civil penalties.

Pan Asian Lawyers Group to Hold

Reenactment of Discrimination Case

The Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego will bring together a group of judges and attorneys from San Diego bar associations to present a live reenactment of a landmark employment discrimination case concerning Asian Americans. The free event, open to the public, will take place on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., at the U.S. District Court Jury Lounge, 333 W. Broadway in Downtown. A reception will follow the hour-long program.

In the 1970s, Asian American workers in Alaskan salmon canneries, including Filipino American activists and other minority workers, filed three class action lawsuits to protest the segregated working and living conditions in Alaskan canneries. After a lengthy trial and multiple proceedings before the Ninth Circuit, Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio reached the United States Supreme Court in 1989.

At the event, attorneys and judges will bring the case to life with readings of trial testimony, judicial opinions and profiles of cannery workers, which will be accompanied by photographs of the participants and the actual working and living conditions. Family members and supporters of the plaintiffs also are scheduled to appear at the event.

Court security requires pre-registration for this event. For more information, contact Arlene Yang at

San Diego 2nd Least Affordable

Home Market in the Country

A new report by finds that San Diego is the second least affordable market for a new home in the United States. The report found that in the San Francisco and San Diego markets, the mortgage-to-income ratio is more than double the 28 percent threshold recommended by financial experts to avoid being “house poor.” Nationally, the ratio is 27.6 percent.

The data is based on purchasing a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Here are the five least affordable markets in mortgage-to-income ratio:

San Francisco — 72.0 percent

San Diego — 56.9 percent

Los Angeles — 50.7 percent

New York — 46.6 percent

Miami — 42.2 percent

The most affordable markets were Detroit at 13.2 percent and St. Louis at 18.1 percent.

— Times of San Diego

Personnel Announcements

Fisher & Phillips Adds Two Attorneys

Aaron Olsen

Aaron Olsen

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne

Fisher & Phillips LLP has added Aaron Olsen and Patrick Byrne as new attorneys to its San Diego office. Olsen joins the firm as of counsel, and defends employers on a full spectrum of employment issues. Byrne joins as an associate, and represents employers of all sizes before state and federal courts, as well as various government agencies.

Prior to joining Fisher & Phillips, Olsen worked as an associate for Epstein Becker & Green in San Diego and Los Angeles focusing on labor and employment law, and before that, as an associate at Cooley LLP in San Diego. He has represented employers in more than two dozen wage-hour class actions, defended employers in actions alleging discrimination and wrongful termination, and represented companies in actions alleging theft of trade secrets.

Byrne practiced labor and employment law in Fresno for an international firm before joining Fisher & Phillips. He handles cases ranging from single-plaintiff complaints to large class action lawsuits and defends against claims involving unfair competition, wage and hour violations, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Labor Code.

UC San Diego Health Sciences Names CFO

Mark Harrison has been appointed as the new chief financial officer for UC San Diego Health Sciences. As CFO, Harrison will collaborate with university leadership to ensure the strong financial health of the health sciences sector.

Previously, Harrison was principal and founder of Apex Healthcare Group, a company that advises boards and CEOs of health care companies, and a senior vice president at Accretive Health Inc., which focused on the development of population health offerings designed for health systems, medical groups and health plans. Harrison also was CFO of DaVita, and CFO of Allina Hospital and Clinics in Minneapolis.

Jimmy Ayala Promoted at Pardee Homes

Jimmy Ayala

Jimmy Ayala

Jimmy Ayala has been named vice president of project management at Pardee Homes. Ayala has more than 10 years experience in land use, planning and community development.

Joining Pardee in 2003 as a project coordinator, Ayala rose to project manager and then director of community development in 2007. Transitioning to his new role, Ayala will add oversight of land development, architecture and landscape, and community relations to his existing duties.

Ayala played a vital role in the growth of Pardee’s master-planned communities in San Diego, the company said.

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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: