A Band of America building. Courtesy of the company

Bank of America donated $1.8 million in 2021 to local nonprofits to help narrow the disparities between equity and wealth, especially in San Diego’s underserved communities.

The bank said the grant money will also help close the divide between racial and workforce inequality, education and healthcare disparity, all of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank also said it also handed out 785,000 masks and 240,00 pairs of gloves, as well 350 student backpacks, which went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego. Local employees volunteered 8,596 hours with local nonprofits.

“While the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, there’s no doubt it has had a disproportionate impact on communities already grappling with the effects of economic and social inequality,” said Rick Bregman, president of local operations for the bank in a prepared statement.

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Been tough to find a place to rent this year in San Diego? Well, apparently there’s a good explanation. People are moving here in droves so they can enjoy outdoor activities year-round.

It’s made a competitive market all the more competitive and accelerated the housing shortage.

That’s the essence of a just released RentCafe study on the state of the apartment rental industry across the country…this time looking at competition for vacant apartments in smaller outdoor metro markets this past summer, a peak rental period. 

The report on 105 U.S. markets found that smaller markets have been hot since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly because they offer larger living spaces with quick access to outdoor attractions and recreation.

Unsurprisingly, San Diego scored second-best nationwide, with neighboring markets in sunny Southern California, such as Orange County and Eastern LA County not far behind.

The top market was Eugene, OR, with Knoxville, Tenn., (think the Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Trail) scoring third.

In San Diego the occupancy rate for apartments was 97%, very close to a full house, with those few vacancies coming to market filled in 26 days. (Honestly, I think prime apartments coming to market here move faster than 26 days.)

 The big demand on local rental units comes despite the fact that we’re among the most expensive regions on the West Coast. And new apartment construction over the past decade hasn’t kept pace.

Amazingly, 29 applicants lined up for each apartment that came up for rent here, according to the RentCafe study.

And successful applicants needed a credit score of 671 or higher to qualify. That was the highest average credit score in the markets surveyed. 

According to the analysis, San Diego is hot especially compared to other metro areas on the West Coast now that more workers can work remotely. 

RentCafe is an apartment rental website.

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German air carrier Lufthansa is returning to San Diego with a nonstrop flight to Germany. The carrier will offer nonstop flights to Munich starting on March 30, according to a news release from San Diego International Airport.

The airline previously offered nonstop flights to Frankfurt until service was suspended in March 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It currently offers direct flights to cities in Germany and beyond through a code-sharing arrangement with other airlines.

Lufthansa will be using its own aircraft for this nonstop service, a latest model 293-seat Airbus A350-900.

The service will go to five days a week in May.

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Meanwhile, SAN officials said they have completed the largest single bond sale by an airport in the state.

The financing totaled $1.94 billion, of which $1.58 billion will be used to pay for construction of the $3.4 billion, 30-gate Terminal 1 project now underway.

The rest will be used to refinance old debt at a lower cost.

The airport held an official groundbreaking on the Terminal 1 project Dec. 13.

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Benefiting from airport construction, as well as redevelopment of the UC San Diego Hillcrest hospital campus, is Latitude 33 Planning & Engineering.

The local firm said in a news release that thanks to work involving the two projects, the company’s gross revenues have grown 70% over the last two years. 

The firm said it had to increase staff by 50 % to 60, to cite an example of the rapid growth the company is experiencing. 

The UCSD hospital project, which will cost between $2.5 billion and $3billion, features a re-do of 34 acres of the hospital’s 62-acre campus.

The work is expected to take 15 years to complete.

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Auto website ISeeCars reports that used car prices are skyrocketing everywhere, including San Diego. 

The website surveyed 1.9 million sales of cars one to five years old in November and found that San Diego, along with most other major metro areas, is experiencing an astonishing run up in used-car prices.

Prices rose 28.5% year-over-year, the survey found, thanks to the shortage in microchips used in new cars. It’s put added pressure on the used car market.

The average price of a car in San Diego increased $6,604 over the past year.

For example, ISeeCars said the survey found that the price of a Mazda6 increased nearly 50% over the past year in San Diego, the cash price increased $7,756 from year over year through November.

The most popular sales involve economy models. Brands with the largest runup in percentage increases included the Kia Forte, Acura RDX, Nissan Versa and Kia Soul. The percentage price jumps ranged from 41% to 47%. 

The Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL, area had the greatest price increase, with the increase up nearly 35% and the average increase in price up $7,326.

San Diego was No. 20 on the list of the 50 metro areas surveyed. 

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Finally, local biomed startup Paracrine Cell Therapy says it has been granted full approval for an investigational device exemption by the FDA to conduct a pivotal trial for patients suffering from diabetic foot ulcers. 

The trial will include 291 patients at 25 clinics.

The startup, founded in 2018, is currently seeking to raise $42 million, in a series A fund-raising effort.

Paracrine says it uses a patient’s regenerative cells to support healing and tissue repair, which it claims is a safer way to treat complex vascular, immune, and inflammatory conditions.

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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