PHOTO BY JIM GRANT
SD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WINS AWARD
The Airport Innovation Accelerator established by American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) has recognized San Diego International Airport (SAN) with the 2018 Most Innovative Large Hub Airport award.
In its third year, this is the first time the award has been given in two categories – Large Hub and Small to Medium Hub – the latter of which went to Greater Rochester International Airport in New York. SAN highlighted its innovations in environmental sustainability, as well as setting up a unique Airport Innovation Lab in the decommissioned former Commuter Terminal.
“Our innovation focus is informed by the unique characteristics of this airport,” said Airport Authority president and CEO Kimberly J. Becker. “Being right next to San Diego Bay drives our commitment to environmental stewardship. And operating on a small, 661-acre footprint drives us to think of new ways to fund necessary improvements, while always enhancing the passenger experience.”
Two of SAN’s unique environmental innovations are its air conditioning condensate water collection and its Good Traveler carbon-offset programs. The former captures water that dripped onto the airfield, posing safety and run-off risks, and recycles it for non-potable water uses. The Good Traveler program – which has already been adopted by other airports – allows the purchase of credits to offset air travel.
The Airport Innovation Lab is a working terminal space where pre-existing ideas can be tested and accelerated, potentially leading to contracts with SAN, as well as entrée to other airports. The lab will soon engage 10 companies working to solve two challenges – airport parking and helping passengers with unique needs navigate the airport environment.
Its first success was launching @YourGate at SAN, delivering food and retail items to passengers at their gates. That service has since expanded to the Port Authority of NY-NJ airports.
The award was presented July 15 at the AAAE’s Airport Innovation Forum in Atlanta. The Airport Innovation Accelerator, which selects the award winners, was established to serve as a hub for business, aviation and regulatory stakeholders to drive creativity and help build the airports of the future.
REP. PETERS NOMINATES POINT LOMA STUDENTS TO U.S. ACADEMIES
U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) recently honored 32 San Diego high school students nominated to United States service academies by his office. The students applied through Peters’ office and interviewed with an independent panel of academy graduates, service members, veterans, and academic leaders.
This year, Peters had the privilege of nominating Troy Fountas to the United States Air Force Academy; Parker Roberts to the United States Naval Academy; Will Garrington, Jack Abbey and Andrew Fisak to the United States Merchant Marine Academy; and Morgan Melby and Max Higgins to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“San Diego's military and veterans heritage is world-renowned and our community carries out this legacy by protecting our country and supporting our service members,”said Peters. “These young men and women are on their way to becoming an integral part of our proud military town.”
“In Congress, I have the honor of working on legislation to provide for the national defense and support our servicemembers and veterans. Selecting the future leaders of our Armed Services is far more personal because I’ve heard and seen how much this means to our nominees and their families and each year, I am always struck at the caliber of the tremendous young men and women who apply to serve,” said Rep. Peters.
At the ceremony, Rep. Peters personally congratulated the nominees and thanked their families for their service to our nation.
“Your nomination is a testament to your hard work and determination. Military families have a special and important job, too—you are our heroes on the homefront, providing support for service members every step of the way. I wish you all the best in the next steps of your journey. Good luck, and God bless.”
HOMEOWNERSHIP IN SD STILL TRIUMPHS OVER TRUMP TAX BILL
This past December, President Trump signed a new tax bill into law that caused some minor bouts of panic on the West Coast. The measure, Tax Cuts and Job Acts, made two major adjustments: the cap on mortgage interest deductions was reduced from $1 million to $750,000, and deductions for state and local taxes, including property taxes, was capped at $10,000.
This means that homeowners with mortgages above $750,000 will receive less tax breaks.
While one used to be able to write off all interest up to a $1 million loan from their income, using an interest-rate deduction that has been around for more than 50 years, there is now a cap on those tax breaks.
This is less than an ideal situation for homeowners in places like San Francisco and San Jose, where the median home value is between $790,000 and $912,000. But while San Diego isn’t known for its cheap housing costs, the fear that homeownership here is now “down the toilet” may not be legitimate.
“There are still so many benefits to owning a home,” said Mark Chrisman, Mortgage Consultant at San Diego’s RWM Home Loans and a Point Loma resident. “The tax bill is only reducing benefits for high-net worth individuals. I get people moving their businesses out of California because the taxes are too high, but in terms of the benefits of homeownership, you’re still getting a $10,000 tax write-off for property tax and state tax, and you’re still getting 100 percent of your interest as a tax write-off until you hit that $750,000 mortgage mark.”
The median home value in San Diego is $527,600, a big leap from the homes in San Jose.
Of the residents in Pacific Beach, Mission Bay and Ocean Beach combined, there are 16,742 people with a mortgage loan and 7,999 of those people have a mortgage loan between $750,000 and $1 million according to Chrisman. That’s less than five percent of individuals in all three cities who will be affected by the new tax bill.
“It’s a very, very tiny population of people,” said Chrisman. “To even get a $750,000 loan, you’d have to make roughly $200,000 per year or more on income. If that’s the money you’re making, then chances are you own a home and the benefits are there, they’re just capped a little lower but they’re still huge benefits. I don’t think it will discourage people from getting into the housing market out here.”
And so far, it hasn’t. Though business dropped dramatically from November through January, Scott Booth, Realtor for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and fellow homeowner in Pacific Beach, says that buyers are back on the rise.
“Everyone was a little more cautious and scared in the beginning because they didn’t know how the bill was going to affect them, but we saw an increase in sales volume again starting in February,” said Booth. “I think people sort of got adjusted to the new tax bill and they made adjustments accordingly. Or it just didn’t affect them at all.”
Kathy Gray is one such homeowner in Pacific Beach whose mortgage is too low to be impacted by the tax bill. Having bought their home in 1999, Gray says they were able to avoid being sucked into the short-term, high rental fad that’s now consumed the beach-side neighborhoods.
“Homeownership shielded us from increasing rent prices and the city-wide problem of lack of affordable housing,” said Gray. “Availability of whole-house rentals is quite low, in part due to the booming short-term vacation rental businesses. Investors have been purchasing homes in single-family zones and starting mini hotels, creating a shortage of long-term rentals. I feel fortunate that we bought when we did.”
High rent prices in San Diego, especially in coastal towns, is one of the reasons Booth believes that homeownership will continue to be a preferred financial route. And Chrisman believes that first time homebuyers are unlikely to go straight for a $1 million home.
“If someone’s going to have to pay, say, $3,500 dollars in rent versus spending $3,800 or $4,000 on a mortgage payment and get some write-off on that, they’re still better off owning a home in the long run and they’re going to save money,” said Booth. “As long as the rents stay high, so will the number of people wanting to buy a home.”
But the simple location desirability is one of the main reasons both Chrisman and Booth believe people will continue to invest in homes in San Diego. In certain parts of Pacific Beach, the average single-family house is well over $1 million, and Booth says those people are feeling the tension. He even had a client pull the plug on their offer on a home in Pacific Beach because once the tax bill took effect, their deductions went way down. However, Booth still ended up selling the house and the other client still bought another home in a different part of PB.
“There are some people that want to live in Pacific Beach no matter what,” said Booth. “I’m sort of that way. I grew up in PB so when I bought my house 15 years ago, I only wanted to buy here. So, there are people like me who are just dead-set on this area.”
Chrisman adds, “People want to live on the coast. People want to live where they can make more money. I mean, how many people do you meet daily that moved to San Diego for the weather and the opportunities? People want to live here, and they find a way to make it work.”