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Regional Roundup



Carlsbad: Weevil Bugs $900M Nursery Industry

A destructive beetle that threatens the state’s nursery industry has prompted a quarantine of three nurseries in San Diego County.

As the state Department of Food and Agriculture prepares early this month to release a protocol on pesticide treatment for ridding the Diaprepes root weevil, the greatest threat has been pinpointed west of Interstate 5 in San Diego County, but it has also been spotted in parts of Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The quarantine, which involves mostly residential areas, started in May in the University City area and rolled out into Encinitas, Carlsbad, Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch and La Jolla. In December, Oceanside was added to the list.

It could take from three to five years for the eradication process to be complete, according to the San Diego County Agricultural Commission, which has been working with state and local nurseries to develop the protocol.

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Under the quarantine, growers are not able to ship plants out until their nurseries pass inspection by agricultural officers, but even then they may be restricted from shipping certain types of plants. Residential gardeners removing plants or plant cuttings from quarantined areas are cautioned to cover them and dispose of them in approved landfills.

The pesticide treatments for the infected areas identified have been halted during the winter and are expected to resume in March.

A voracious eater, the weevil, which is native to the Caribbean and spread west from Florida decades ago, threatens some 270 types of plants, particularly ornamental trees, palms, shrubs, avocado and citrus groves, and devours both roots and leaves.

The nursery industry brings in $900 million a year in San Diego County, the most of any county in the nation, according to Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

, Connie Lewis

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Chula Vista: Dobson’s Has Designs on Eastlake

South Bay residents craving a classy restaurant experience can look forward to the opening of a second Dobson’s restaurant in the Eastlake Design District this year.

“We’re shooting for July,” said Paul Dobson, who has operated his landmark downtown restaurant next to Horton Plaza for 24 years.

Dobson said he purchased a home in the Eastlake area about nine years ago, and was constantly hearing from his neighbors that they wanted a place to eat that is nicer than the big-chain eateries.

“The market is there. This is such a booming neighborhood,” Dobson said.

He found a site in the city’s Design District, a complex of furniture and home design retailers that opened in 2006. The new place will seat 120 patrons, about twice the size of the original Dobson’s.

Dobson, who signed a lease for the new location at the end of last month, said he’s got a partner/head chef on the project, but couldn’t say who it is. “He’s still working somewhere else.”

Terms of the lease were not available by press time.

, Mike Allen

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Del Mar: Executive Says Surfside Is the Place to Be

Officials at the Del Mar Fairgrounds named George Bradvica as Surfside Race Place manager in late December.

Bradvica has more than 25 years of experience in the racing industry. He joins the Del Mar Fairgrounds from the Los Angeles County Fair, where he worked since 1988 in several managerial positions, including marketing manager and operations and racing manager.

“With many years of experience serving horsemen and the racing industry, I understand the needs and expectations of customers,” said Bradvica. “I look forward to providing a personal level of exceptional customer service and creating a fun entertainment experience at Surfside Race Place.”

Tim Fennell, general manager and chief executive officer of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, said he was thrilled to have Bradvica join the team because of his experience and knowledge of the racing industry and off-site wagering programs.

Surfside Race Place is located on the Del Mar Fairgrounds and offers off-track wagering during Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s off-season from September through June. The 90,000-square-foot facility is the state’s largest satellite wagering complex.

Surfside Race Place opened in 1991 and has 24 full-time employees. Some $78 million is wagered annually at Surfside, according to the fairgrounds. The Del Mar Fairgrounds started offering satellite wagering in 1987.

, Michelle Mowad

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Escondido: Sometimes, the Best Advice Is Free

A program offering free advice to small-business owners debuted in Escondido this month.

“Thursdays With Joe,” held on the first Thursday of every month, from 10 a.m. to noon, offers current and would-be small-business owners a chance to sit and talk with Joe Molina on topics ranging from marketing to financing plans.

A small-business development expert, Molina is a consultant with the Small Business Development Center at MiraCosta College in Oceanside. Funding for the new program is absorbed jointly by the college and the city, with Escondido providing facilities, according to city spokeswoman Michelle Bromstead.

At press time, the city was scheduled to unveil the program Jan. 4. It takes place at City Hall in downtown Escondido.

To allow for personal attention, up to four small-business owners will be allowed per session. Space permitting, walk-ins are welcome but reservations are encouraged.

More information is available by calling (760) 839-4000.

, Jessica Long

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San Diego: Hielo Says Hello to Downtown

Hielo LLC, a Los Angeles mobile service provider, opened shop Dec. 15 in downtown San Diego.

Some 15 employees work in the store, which features a lounge where people can access their MySpace account and check out the latest games and music videos.

The company, launched in May, is marketing its stores as something unique.

“Hielo stores can be destinations, where friends can meet and hang out,” said Rick Heineman, spokesman for Hielo.

The Global Positioning System has been installed on the phones, allowing users to connect to Google Maps immediately and locate restaurants, clubs and other destinations, Heineman said.

Its phones have names such as Hero, Kickflip and Drift.

Hielo is a joint partnership between wireless carrier SK Telecom and Earthlink, an Internet service provider.

Hielo said it plans to open five stores this year. Hielo, which has a store in Santa Monica, expects to open locations in Denver, Palo Alto and New York.

“We were a $440 million joint venture from the start,” said Heineman. “This has allowed us to go out and pursue our business ventures. We are still experiencing growth week after week and opening stores is evidence of that growth.”

The privately held company said it does not release its financial results.

, Amy Yarnall

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Poway: New Tower to Let Crew Fire on All Cylinders

The Poway Fire Department plans to open a training tower this month to help prepare firefighters for real-life situations.

The training facility, which cost $3.6 million to build, is a 50-foot tall, 15,000-square-foot building situated on 1 acre on Crosthwaite Circle.

The department’s old training structure was torn down in May 2004 to make room for the new City Hall complex.

, Stacey Bengtson

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Coronado: Exec to Put His Hands Across Water

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Coronado resident Douglas Metz to the state Boating and Waterways Commission for a four-year term. The announcement was made Dec. 28.

Metz, 72, is president of Metz Associates of Coronado, where he serves as counsel to importers and exporters of wines and spirits. From 1977 to 1998, Metz was managing director and general counsel of Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America. He held White House positions from 1974 to 1977.

Coronado residents already know Metz as a member of the community’s school board. Metz, a Republican, is also active in the Coronado Cays Yacht Club.

Metz’s appointment requires Senate confirmation, and compensation for the post is $100 per diem.

Recreational boating contributes $13 billion to the economy annually, and the Department of Boating and Waterways helps develop convenient public access to the waterways and promote on-the-water safety, according to its Web site.

, Brad Graves

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El Cajon: Grossmont to Open $20M Science Lab

Grossmont College, a community college in El Cajon, is holding a grand opening for its $20 million Science Laboratory Building on Jan. 17.

The 37,834-square-foot building is being paid for with state bond money and local Proposition R funds, according to a newsletter on the college’s Web site. Grossmont officials could not be reached for comment because the college was closed for the holiday break.

Plans call for increasing laboratory space for biology, chemistry and Earth sciences, as well as classroom space. According to the newsletter, the first students are expected to attend class in the building this spring.

, Katie Weeks

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San Diego: Baja a Prudent Choice for Realty Company

Carmel Valley-based Prudential California Realty announced the opening of its newest affiliate, Prudential Baja, Jan. 2.

The new division will have 25 agents.

Located in Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico, Prudential Baja represents the company’s initial foray into the northern Baja California market.

Most recently, Prudential Baja partnered with developer Grupo Pes to market Palacio del Mar, a $140 million, luxury residential development along the Tijuana-Ensenada coastline.

Located at El Descanso, 35 minutes from the U.S.-Mexico border at San Diego, the development is set on 10 acres of oceanfront property.

It will include four towers, offering 256 condos, 12 penthouses and 14 villas, priced from $400,000 to $1.4 million.

, Pat Broderick

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