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Business briefs March 8, 2007

La Jolla Bank is sold

Landmark National Bank, which has a La Jolla branch at 7817 Ivanhoe Ave., has been acquired by 1st Pacific Bank, which has several branches, including one in UTC.

1st Pacific is a locally owned business with an established reputation in San Diego.

1st Pacific Bancorp, the parent company of 1st Pacific Bank of California and Landmark National Bank have entered into a definitive agreement for the merger of Landmark National into 1st Pacific Bank, in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $24.6 million. The merger solidifies 1st Pacific as the largest, publicly traded community business bank headquartered in San Diego.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by both companies’ boards of directors, Landmark National shareholders will have the option to receive either $12.45 in cash or 0.778125 shares of 1st Pacific common stock for each share of Landmark National common stock, provided that the resulting mix of consideration is such that approximately 65 percent of Landmark National shares receive 1st Pacific common stock. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and approval by shareholders of both institutions and is expected to close in the late second quarter or early third quarter of 2007.

“Landmark National is a strong institution with the same target market and customer-driven focus that we emphasize at 1st Pacific,” said Vince Siciliano, president and CEO of 1st Pacific Bancorp. “This acquisition expands and strengthens our presence throughout San Diego and allows us to serve our growing customer base with larger lending limits and increased services while retaining our focus on building personal customer relationships. The product lines of each company are complementary; the combination should provide the resources and synergy to accelerate our growth and enhance our position as San Diego’s leading business bank.”

Based upon financial data for 1st Pacific and Landmark National as of December 31, 2006, the combined company will have approximately $450 million in total assets, $360 million in deposits, $350 million in loans and a market capitalization of approximately $80 million.

“We are pleased to be joining with 1st Pacific Bank, which is emerging as the leading local business bank in San Diego due to its resources, network, experienced team and excellent client service,” said Rick Mandelbaum, CEO/president for Landmark National Bank. “This transaction provides our shareholders with the opportunity to hold shares in the premier community business bank in San Diego County.”

1st Pacific will keep all of Landmark National’s branches open, and will continue to operate Landmark’s office two days a week at the White Sands of La Jolla Retirement Community. The proforma company will operate seven branches.

La Jolla Realty Team sets the bar higher

Mother-son Realty team Eric and Peggy Chodorow at the La Jolla office of The Willis Allen Company, have reached yet another milestone in San Diego real estate.

As members of Team Chodorow, they have extended their sales record of averaging a sale a week since 1977 and stretching their total sales in excess of $1,150,000,000.

The Chodorows have sold an average of one home per week, every week, for 30 years.

“Team Chodorow has consistently produced results for its clients, despite market and mortgage rate fluctuations,” said Andrew E. Nelson, Willis Allen’s CEO and President. “Peggy and Eric are successful because they are passionatea about their business and they are constantly looking for ways to improve, whether the subject is advertising, analyzing data or negotiating tactics.”

Peggy and Eric Chodorow remain alert to all opportunities that help them attract qualified buyers to one of their listings. “Customer satisfaction drives our future success,” said Eric Chodorow. “When we say that our client’s dream is our commitment, we mean it.”

Team Chodorow is poised to maintain the momentum that propelled them to the top of their profession. In the first two months of 2007, they have 13 homes either sold or in escrow.

To learn more about Team Chodorow, visit www.teamchodorow.com, call them at (858) 459-7377 or e-mail contactus@teamchodorow.com.

Marine Room is tops

The Marine Room has taken top honors in the Best Restaurant and Best Surfside Dining categories for the second year in a row in winners for AOL CityGuide 2007 City’s Best program. More than 300 businesses were nominated in each of the network’s 37 major markets.

AOL CityGuide, a leading online local entertainment guide, and its annual City’s Best program provides an opportunity for local residents to vote for their favorite venues in their hometown, as well as cities they enjoy visiting.

The wide range of categories included: Best Weekend Brunch, Best Cheap Eats, Best Chinese, Best Romantic Restaurants, Best Steakhouses, Best Mexican, Best Outdoor Dining, Best Family-Friendly Restaurants, Best Sports Bars, Best Singles Scene and many more.

“The great thing about City’s Best is the winners truly reflect the voice of the local consumer. With more than one million votes cast last year, we anticipate an equally strong response as we celebrate the best venues nationwide,” said Scott Richman, Vice President and General Manager, AOL CityGuide. “AOL CityGuide provides the opportunity for the preferences of our users to determine the winners of the campaign and let us know the establishments they deem best in their city.”

All City’s Best establishments are nominated based on recommendations from AOL CityGuide’s local correspondents who live and work in the cities they cover, the editorial insights of the CityGuide programming team and user feedback. Consumers’ votes and rankings ultimately determine which venues are chosen number one in their categories.

The Marine Room offers diners global cuisine rooted in the French classics. Its spectacular views, exemplary service and outstanding wine list make it one of San Diego’s premier dining destination.

The Marine Room is at 2000 Spindrift Drive in La Jolla and is owned and operated by the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Inc.

For more information visit www.MarineRoom.com.

Novel solar technology wins UCSD Business Concept Competition

The Triton Innovation Network, a UCSD student organization, has awarded its top prize in the preliminary $1,000 Business Concept Competition round of its $50,000 Entrepreneurship Competition to a team of four that developed a new photovoltaic technology as UCD undergraduates. The $50,000 grand prize will be awarded in May 2007.

The award-winning business plan is for their photovoltaic technology that promises higher energy conversion efficiency while using a fraction of the material employed in the latest generation of solar cells. The group of four has formed the SolASE Company and has filed a patent for their technology. Together, they have been spending significant amounts of time and money on their idea since February of last year.

“It’s a revolutionary, new photovoltaic device that represents a significant departure from conventional photovoltaics,” said Joshua Windmiller, the CEO of SolASE, who will soon finish his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at UCSD.

SolASE’s business concept was rated most highly among the group of eight semi-finalists by a judging team of venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs, and seasoned lawyers. More than 300 participants on 50 teams competed for the prize.

SolASE emerged as the winner among a field which included several Ph.D, M.B.A., and medical school students as well as competitors from industry. The business ideas of other semi-finalists ranged from ultra wideband wireless technology for corporate security systems to novel biomarkers for cancer detection in pets.

The $1,000 Business Concept Competition was a lead-up to the UCSD $50,000 Entrepreneurship Competition, which began this January and culminates in May, when $50,000 will be awarded to the teams with the best business plans.

The Triton Innovation Network has received extensive support from UCSD faculty and organizations as well as from the local business community. Sponsors include the Catalyst Law Group, Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, Invitrogen, and Qualcomm. In a surprise announcement at the awards ceremony, James and Susan Morris of JBM Properties awarded each of the eight semi-finalists teams with an additional $500.

For more information, e-mail Darby Chan UCSD Triton Innovation Network dchan@ucsd.edu or visit www.ucsd50k.com.

511 traffic info a hit for commuters

Usage of 511 continues to climb since its public launch on Feb. 21, as users obtain up-to-the-minute freeway driving times, transit route and rideshare information, roadside assistance, and much more.

After just two days in operation, 511 received more than 64,000 Web visits and 10,000 telephone calls.

A wealth of free, travel-related information is put at the commuter’s fingertips via 511 - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Accessed via telephone (number and voice-activated) or Web www.511sd.com, 511 consolidates valuable traffic information into a one-stop resource.

The services allows commuters to access real-time incident reports from Caltrans and pinpoint congestion delays that could affect your commute. With 511, users can get drive times for all major highways in the San Diego region.

With 511, transit riders can conveniently connect with the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District for a route that best meets their needs. Find out when the next bus will arrive, and learn how much it will cost.

The 511 service also provides a seamless connection to the San Diego SAFE (Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies) call center for vehicle roadside assistance.

For those looking at ways to beat congestion, 511 also offers instant access to the SANDAG RideLink program for valuable rideshare information making carpools or vanpools easier.

Through 511, customers can get information on bike maps, bike lockers, taking bicycles onto public transit, and other tips on navigating the more than 1,000 miles of bikeways in the region.

Also through 511, get the latest airline arrival and departure information to take the guess work out of air travel. Get connected to information on border crossing times at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

A cable TV broadcast will provide local residents and travelers with a television view of the 511 traffic information and will be offered on local public access channels. The system automatically collects and updates traffic conditions, and provides information similar to the 511 Web traffic page. The TV broadcast will provide freeway congestion, construction, and incident information along with streaming videos and snapshots from Caltrans cameras. The 511 TV broadcast will be available in the spring 2007.

The state-of-the-art San Diego 511 service stems from a collaborative partnership among SANDAG, Caltrans, MTS, NCTD, and San Diego SAFE.

San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the region’s primary research, planning, and transportation agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation, transit planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is composed of mayors, councilmembers, and county supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and county government.

For more information visit www.sandag.org.

La Jolla firms form ethics consortium

San Diego Research Ethics Consortium has been formed by four of the nation’s leading biomedical research institutions - The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Scripps Research Institute and UCSD.

The Consortium is a multi-institution core resource to support the ethical conduct of science in stem cell and other research programs.

“This is a unique program that provides not only shared resources, but the collective experience and judgment of four pre-eminent research institutions,” said Michael Kalichman, director of the UCSD Research Ethics Program and the founding director of the San Diego Research Ethics Consortium.

Kalichman noted there are few models of such joint ethics programs among other major research institutions in the country. “This joint program provides a model for what other people and institutions can and should do,” said UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “The San Diego Research Ethics Consortium will complement the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine’s inter-institutional training program for recipients of training grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which began in January.”

Nearly one-third of the training program covers stem cell ethics, which is being taught by Mary Devereaux, a bioethicist with the UCSD Research Ethics Program. The ethics consortium was established to implement Prop. 71, the California Stem Cell and Cures Initiative, which was passed into law by citizens of California in November 2004.

The four institutions are stressing that ethics is an integral part of stem cell research, not just an add-on. “Review of research involving the derivation of pluripotent human stem cells is not only a regulatory obligation, but an ethical obligation,” said Devereaux. “We have a responsibility to the taxpayers and citizens everywhere, but particularly here in California. Conducting stem cell research is a privilege. The citizens of California have given us the resources. It is our duty to use the resources responsibly and according the highest scientific and ethical standards.”

The joint ethics initiative grew out of research funding for stem cell research, according to Kalichman, but the group will address ethics of all areas of research. This includes appropriate training for young researchers, required since the early 1990s by the National Institutes of Health.

Topic areas include human and animal subjects, data management and record-keeping, authorship, conflicts of interest, collaborations, peer review and mentoring, and social responsibility

“The responsible conduct of research includes engaging and informing the public, so we also plan outreach activities, such as seminars, conferences and workshops,” said Kalichman.

The Consortium’s first ethics conference will be held at the Salk Institute on April 6.

The advisory board for the consortium includes Craig Hauser from the Burnham Institute, Gary Silverstein, of the Salk Institute and Dave Gilder from the Scripps Research Institute.

Burnham and Salk have their own Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committees and Scripps will be using UCSD’s ESCRO committee to review their stem cell research.

Under the new consortium agreement, funding from Burnham, Salk and Scripps is being pooled with existing resources at UCSD. “Much as the scientific process helps us to choose among competing hypotheses, the process of ethical reflection and reasoning helps us to answer the tough ethical questions raised by advances in biomedical research,” said Kalichman. “The San Diego Research Ethics Consortium was created to ensure that our local research institutions meet the highest standards of responsible conduct of research.”