Marty Cooper with early cell phones.

A few years back, while traveling the back country of Myanmar (a country now sadly involved in political turmoil), I noted that even the poorest of the poor appeared to have mobile phones. Indeed, that observation was true of most places in Southeast Asia where I ventured. It dawned on me then that almost everyone on the planet is truly connected.

The story of the mobile phone is a fascinating one. And as it turns out, long-time Del Mar resident Marty Cooper is about to publish his account how he helped create the device, in which he had a leading role while working at Motorola.

https://www.rosettabooks.com/rosetta-print/cutting-the-cordThe book, titled “Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed Humanity,” goes on sale April 3. This day by the way is the 48th anniversary of the first official cell phone call, one which Cooper had the distinction of making.

In the book, he describes how he persisted in getting it to market despite naysayers who said the concept was “impractical, unmarketable and preposterous.” In addition to the back story, Cooper writes about what he sees ahead for wireless communication, which he believes is still in the earliest stages of development. You can order a copy of his book here.

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Television station KUSI is reporting that restaurant and other business owners along a stretch of F Street are up in arms because they haven’t been included in city’s Curbside Gaslamp project, which involves closing five blocks of Fifth Avenue during the week to traffic. The closure allows restaurants to seat more customers outdoors, which is critical to survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, the Gaslamp plan, on the drawing board for years, called for closure down an eight-block section of Fifth Street. Owners on the three blocks on the side of F Street that remains open to traffic, say they aren’t able to draw as much business. The five-block closure has proved a boon to those able to take advantage while California locked out indoor dining during the pandemic. The situation may ease as the state says restaurants can resume indoor eating.

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Now for a bit of nonprofit news. Local professional genealogist and historian Yvette Porter-Moore will speak March 16 at the San Diego History Center. The title of the talk is “Sankofa: A Journey to Our Roots.”  According to a publicist, Porter-Moore has conducted extensive family research projects in various cities throughout the U.S., with a focus on old cemeteries. She will provide basic resources necessary to begin family research as well as offering tips, techniques, and case studies.  RSVP here to find out more about the free Zoom gathering.

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Meanwhile, on March 19, the Foundation for Women Warriors has scheduled a free screening of the documentary “Unsung Heroes: The Story of America’s Female Patriots.” Hollywood legendary mogul Ron Howard produced the two-hour, two-part documentary. To register for the free event, click here.

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As most readers know, we’re mired in an epic home-buying shortage, with the number of homes coming to market at rock bottom. The phenomenon is helping drive up prices, thus making ownership all the more unaffordable to many. According to government statistics, the vacancy rate—the share of owner-occupied housing vacant and for sale—is just 1% nationwide. Porch, a website that covers the $500 billion home services market, has issued a report on those troubling rates. And it ain’t pretty.

Of the 50 states, California has the 9th lowest rate. And for the quarter ending Dec. 31, San Diego had a homeowner vacancy rate of 0.6%. Compare that to Albany, New York, which boasted the highest rate at 4.9%. The report says the lack of new home construction is a major factor for the low vacancy rate. Consider that the unit construction rate per 10,000 population in San Diego is 28 compared to the 44 per 10,000 nationwide. “The pandemic has only made this more challenging as construction in many parts of the country has faced stoppages and the price of materials has increased,” the report notes. 

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Finally, while we’re on the topic of housing, there may be a bit of relief on the way for renters. Downtown’s newest and tallest residential high rise, Diega, the most recent project from developer Bosa, has begun pre-leasing activities. The project, which features a whopping 617 units, is located on Broadway between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The apartments range in size from 577 to 1,286 square feet, and they will rent from between $2,035 and $6,819, according to a spokesperson.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.

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