A two-year study shows that among the nation’s 28 major metropolitan areas, San Diegans have the sixth-highest average annual expenditures at $44,235 each. That’s $7,218 higher than the national average and $4,252 higher than the West regional average. The results of the two-year, 1998-99, study are published in the latest San Diego Regional Chamber Economic Bulletin.

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When it comes to land and air, the capabilities of a cell phone don’t change. But what makes it possible to use a handheld while in a plane 10,000 feet in the air, and why should it work there when it doesn’t work in your own neighborhood?

It all depends on where the phone is, says Marco Thompson, president of the San Diego Telecom Council. “Cell phones are not designed to work on a plane. Although they do.” The rough rule is that when the plane is slow and over a city, the phone will work up to 10,000 feet or so. “Also, it depends on how fast the plane is moving and its proximity to antennas,” Thompson says. “At 30,000 feet, it may work momentarily while near a cell site, but it’s chancy and the connection won’t last.” Also, the hand-off process from cell site to cell site is more difficult. It is created for a maximum speed of 60 mph to 100 mph. “They are not built for 400 mph airplanes.”

But, Thompson warns, to find out how well your phone works on a plane, you risk going to jail.

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Interviews with John MacDonald, Kay Wagner, Denis Waitley and Bill Seaton are featured this month on the Heart of San Diego, the Fred Lewis-hosted television show that airs in prime time on ITV.

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In the business of selling businesses, the San Diego offices of VR Business Brokers is excelling. Its record-breaking first and second quarters were tops in the company’s 70 offices worldwide. In addition, five San Diego associates — Dwight Jones, Ken Oppeltz, Fred Renzoni and Hall Janke — made the company’s Top 10 list of 850 VR international employees, notes William Lange, president of the local office and also a Top Tenner.

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With convention business in San Diego already slow, the events of Sept. 11 have smacked all areas of the local tourism economy, including destination management stalwart PRA. Company principal Patti Roscoe says some canceled business has rebooked for November or December; most is looking at 2002. To spare jobs, her management team has made the rounds at the firm’s four Southern California offices, asking for volunteer time off and three-quarter work weeks. An optimist with a track record of success, she expects everyone in the company to help keep overhead down. When business picks up, she foresees changing themes, including a greater focus on America and patriotism. “This is a time when some companies will make it through and others won’t,” she says. “Those that do will be stronger and better for it.”

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The havoc that played a number on businesses in Downtown’s struggling hospitality industry sent Heidi Newell on a work hiatus from Kansas City Barbeque and accelerated her plans to open her own boutique. “I have to pay my landlord,” she says. Newell is now running Fellini’s, an upscale retail shop — “not a thrift shop,” she says — at 1940 California St. in Little Italy. “I did it all by myself,” she says. “I built everything from the ground up. Right now, I’m just trying to make a living.” Newell has stocked the store with items she has been collecting for some time. Handmade beaded sweaters and bags from the ’50s, vintage Hawaiian shirts, dresses, lingerie and bowling balls are just some of the things she sells.

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In the middle of the chaos Sept. 11, Schneider National Inc., a Wisconsin-based trucking company, was able to check on its 18 drivers in Manhattan using Qualcomm Inc.’s OmniTracs satellite system, reported the Wall Street Journal. The satellite system installed in each truck allowed for the drivers to be contacted and then reply to say they were all right. In addition, Schneider used the system to send messages to inform its 16,000 truck drivers nationwide of the events and to give instructions to those bound for New York City or Washington, D.C.

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Slurpees and six packs will be available in the Downtown financial district when 7-Eleven opens its doors next month at Sixth Avenue and C Street.

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Western Pacific Housing’s Studio 528 has opened a new home gallery at 528 Fifth Ave. in the Gaslamp Quarter. One of the state’s largest builders, Western Pacific is planning a variety of housing projects Downtown priced from the $200,000s. For information on its Downtown plans, call (619) 239-6494.

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Cortez Hill is on its way to getting a linear park called Tweet Street along some excess Caltrans right of way. The CCDC board has pledged $550,000 to match funds from the Resource Agency of California.

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John Burnham Insurance Services has decided to forego Christmas gifts to its clients, and also to forego its annual top producers trip. Instead, those monies, an estimated $30,000, will be donated to helping the widows, widowers and orphans left following the NYC terrorist attacks.

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A sweeping high-tech pedestrian bridge that would connect the Convention Center to a pedestrian plaza between Fifth and Sixth avenues is in the hands of city planners. Original 1980s plans for the meeting hall called for a bridge across Harbor Drive. But the city spent the money elsewhere.
Now, in response to a city request, Tucker Sadler Noble Castro Architects has submitted two proposals. One is a Caltrans utilitarian design, the other a $12 million sweeping artwork with lasers and multimedia potential. Nozar P. Ravanbach is the project designer, Bob Noble is principal in charge of the design and Arturo Castro is principal in charge of production and construction.
Unfortunately, the city has no plans at this time to fund or build the bridge in the foreseeable future.

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Matching donations from its employees, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich raised about $100,000 for the Gray Cary Foundation. Proceeds will benefit victims of the terrorist attacks.

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Schubach Aviation, a private air charter company based at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, has been booked solid since the terrorist attacks, doing more than $200,000 in charter sales in the first three days of resumed business. Business is up 50 percent from a year ago and inquiries in recent weeks have doubled. To accommodate demand, the company is looking to add more aircraft to its fleet of 11. Henry Schubach, president, says travelers are concerned about safety and reliability. Chartering allows them to choose who their passengers are, while avoiding much of the delays, security issues and limited flight schedules of the major airports.

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Eric Gardiner, a Northwestern Mutual broker who works out of One America Plaza, says the life insurance industry has taken on a new sense of urgency. “Several people have called regarding their need to get personal affairs in order,” he says. “It has also given our sector a renewed feeling by the masses as to how compassionate and caring the insurance industry has been as billions and billions of dollars are being paid to help families of those victims that did do their planning.”

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Gov. Davis has until Oct. 14 to sign a bill by San Diego Assemblyman Howard Wayne to create a new appointive regional airport authority separate from the Port of San Diego. The bill is supported by Mayor Murphy and the San Diego Port Tenants Association, but not the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, which is urging a veto.

SDPTA executive director Richard Cloward thinks “the numbers are cooked” in the port’s initial financial analysis. Factoring out airport operations, the port district estimates a $2.5 million annual loss over the last three years. If the airport is severed from the port, the figures predict annual net income loss prior to depreciation of $24.1 million. Cloward notes that 572 of the port’s 798 employees costs are partly or fully apportioned to the airport budget.

“If the objective as laid out by Mayor Murphy is to site a new airport this legislation doesn’t get you one step closer,” says Frank Urtasun, Port chair. “If the objective is to find a new operator for Lindbergh Field, it accomplishes it. It’s difficult to legislate in a hurried manner and think that it will improve our airport scenario. One has to question that it was jammed through in a week.”

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CHC Construction Group Inc., a national construction company based in Syracuse, N.Y., and specializing in design-build and performance-based energy conservation, has opened a West Coast office in Downtown San Diego. The office, which will focus on federal efforts, is located at 402 W. Broadway on the fourth floor. The senior project manager and director of West Coast operations is Nathaniel Jones. Deborah Britt-Jenkins runs the marketing efforts.

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An Arts Education Partnership has been launched to expand the role of arts education in San Diego City Schools curriculum. Start-up funding of $117,000 comes from the California Arts Council. Participants in a press conference announcing the partnership were Alan Bersin, school district superintendent; Judy McDonald, v.p. of the Parker Foundation and chair of the Arts Education Partnership Working Group; Paul Minicucci, deputy director of the California Arts Council; Vivian Reznik, chair of the San Diego Commission for Arts; and Arthur Ollman, director of the Museum of Photographic Arts.

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Roel Construction Co. has completed tenant improvement construction for TD Waterhouse in the Island@Carlsbad retail center at 5714 Van Allen Way. The 2,000-square-foot project consisted of new carpet, paint and walls with an extensive millwork package including workstations, a new reception counter and a display stand.

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The inaugural History Makers Dinner & Awards presented by the San Diego Historical Society is set for Oct. 24 at the U.S. Grant Hotel. Society board member Sandra Arkin is chairing the event. Three individual awards will be presented: the George W. Marston Award for Civic Leadership to Philip Klauber formerly of Solar Turbines; the Roger Revelle Award for Education to Dorothy Smith, an SDSU professor; and the Maurice Braun Award for Arts & Culture to Gustavo Romero, world-class pianist.

In addition, the Heritage Award for Family Leadership will be given to the Burnham family, honoring the clan’s more than 50 years of contributions. Tickets start at $125. For more information, call (619) 232-6203.

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Gateway makes this month its previously announced move from UTC into new headquarters at 12150 Gateway Place in the Poway Business Park.

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The Museum of Photographic Arts and the Anne and John Marion Center for Photographic Arts on March 24 will debut “Photographers, Writers and the American Scene.” The exhibit features 35 photographers and 15 writers presenting their interpretations on turn-of-the-millennium American culture. Visitors can view nearly 200 photographs and listen to recorded readings at two sound stations. For details, call MoPA at (619) 238-7559.

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EdUCate, the nonprofit University City Foundation for Public Schools, has chosen Nov. 14 and the La Jolla Marriott for its eighth annual Taste of the Triangle. The benefit features tastes of gourmet food and desserts from area restaurants, musical entertainment, no-host cocktails, an opportunity drawing, and a silent auction where travel packages, entertainment values and dinners are up for bid. Proceeds from the event help the more than 4,700 students of Curie, Doyle and Spreckels elementary schools, Standley Middle School and University City High School. The foundation gave the schools 25 grants totaling $57,796 with the funds raised at last year’s Taste of the Triangle. Tickets to this year’s benefit are $30 in advance, $40 at the door; a special VIP reception is presented prior to the event for those who donate a minimum $250. For more, call (858) 677-0989.

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The San Diego design firm Hogue & Associates has been awarded the contract for the remodel design of the 175-room Lucerna Hotel, Mexicali, Mexico.

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Austin Veum Robbins Parshalle, a San Diego-headquartered architecture and interior design firm, has established a Los Angeles office following the acquisition of Siegel Diamond Architecture. The move grows the firm to more than 100 employees.

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Pacific Building Group has completed the construction of the new 4,800-square-foot British Airways Terraces Lounge at Lindbergh Field, reports Greg Rogers, president of the general contracting firm. Overseen by project manager Fred Lurig, the $750,000 project included the complete renovation of the former baggage claim area in Terminal 2 East.

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The San Diego divisions of Continental Homes and D.R. Horton are major sponsors of three Habitat for Humanity houses on land donated by the city of Encinitas. The first house will be constructed during a seven-day “Blitz Build” starting Oct. 15. The two others will be built in the more traditional six-month time frame. Construction will be managed by Greg Hastings and Kip Hanzal from Continental; Bill Kurimay from Habitat; and Jay Kerr and Gary Crouch from D.R. Horton.

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The San Diego World Trade Center, in partnership with the Asian Business Association, Jan. 18-26 will lead a group of companies from San Diego to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The trip will focus on developing trade and commerce with these growing markets. The $3,600 cost for members — $3,900 for those not — includes group air and ground transport, hotel, group meetings and briefings. For more information, contact Hugh Constant, trade center v.p., at (619) 615-0868, Ext. 103, or hconstant@sdwtc.org.

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New to Downtown is Second Source, an Irvine-based provider of refurbished office systems. The company has opened an East Village showroom at 345 15th St. The 2,600-square-foot display area is open to designers, architects, contractors and dealers. Ecky and Patricia Ropohl will operate the new showroom. Also moving into the building is the engineering firm Mike Suprenant & Associates and the architectural firm MW Steele Group Inc.

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Thirty-seven of San Diego’s top teachers will vie for San Diego County Teacher of the Year honors Oct. 13 during the 11th anniversary of “Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers.” The event will be telecast live at 7 p.m. on Cox Channel 4. The evening will culminate with four educators being selected as Teacher of the Year who will represent the county in the California Teacher of the Year awards. Tickets for the event are $14, $7 for students and $12 each for groups of 50 or more. For information, call (858) 292-3753.

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CityMark Development has bought for $7 million a 60,000-square-foot parcel along the 1700 block of Kettner Boulevard in Little Italy. The project, dubbed Doma, will consist of 121 residences in a development that includes an eight-story loft building and a four-story town house. Prices will range from the mid-$200,000s to $600,000. Completion is expected in spring 2003.

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JMI Realty will open late next month the new Del Mar Marriott. The 12-story, 284-room hotel is located in the San Diego Corporate Center in Carmel Valley. The $50 million inn will be Marriott’s only full-service lodging between north San Diego and Orange County.

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Snap Forward of Carlsbad has contracted with Jian Inc. of Mountain View to provide customer service for Jian’s business plan software. “This is not tech support, it is not training,” says Snap Forward President Mellow Honek, “it’s coaching. We are working with groups to bring out questions and issues common to businesses.” Snap Forward conducts coaching on product usage in a group environment via telephone. Their facilitators help product users to make the most out of their software.

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From left, Keith Fernandez, president of Porto Siena; Kimberly Shaw, contracts administrator; and William J. Perkins, project manager, were all smiles when more than 300 new Little Italy residents, guests and city officials gathered Sept. 20 to celebrate as Porto Siena hosted a “Welcome to the Neighborhood Block Party” along Cedar Street.

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In a September feature on the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, the first partner’s name was dropped from an identification of the project architect, Tucker Sadler Noble Castro Architects. San Diego Metropolitan regrets the error.

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Purebeauty has opened its 43rd store and first in San Diego at Balboa Mesa Shopping Center, 5671 Balboa Ave. The shop carries a wide range of hair, skin and body products. Also on site is a beauty salon that offers hair and nail services. Purebeauty is headquartered in Encino.

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Taylor Guitars is donating more than 200 Baby Taylors to San Diego elementary schools this year as part of its new Taylor Guitars for Schools program.

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Discovery Valley Bank raised $7.95 million in its initial public offering that closed Sept. 12. Jim Kelley, president of the San Marcos lender, is proud to have raised the funds in about 90 days. “Typically, most new community banks need substantially more time than Discovery Valley to complete the difficult process of raising capital,” says Kelley.

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Vincent Siciliano is serving as interim CEO at 1st Pacific Bank of California following the surprise decision by Robert Hildt to quit. The start-up has been losing more money than expected. Hildt assembled the bank’s organizers and pushed for its creation late last year. Siciliano is helping recruit a new CEO for the two-office lender.

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After 16 years of pitching fish tacos, John Brice has walked away from Rubio’s Baja Grill, an account he landed when the company had two stores. Today it has 139 and is publicly traded on the Nasdaq as RUBO. “I just want to do something different,” says Brice, president of Brice & Associates. “That is as long as I went to grammar school, high school and college combined.” He and Ralph Rubio, the company’s president who hired Brice, remain friends and still play tennis together. Peacock Public Relations in San Clemente has taken over Rubio’s account. Brice remains busy with accounts that include the Downtown Hyatt and La Casa del Zorro.

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