The state of San Diego’s biotech industry

The state of San Diego’s biotech industry

Since the 1980s – after the discovery of recombinant DNA technology by two California scientists, the establishment of Scripps and UC San Diego research institutions, and city zoning of the Torrey Pines sub-market for scientific research – the San Diego region has been on the frontier of biotech innovation.

Today, San Diego County is one of the leading life sciences markets in the nation with over 1,200 local companies.

The county ranks third in the state of California in industry employment – behind the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County, but ahead of Orange County for the first time – according to a 2018 report from the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA). In fact, San Diego County has surpassed the state’s growth rate by a wide margin. The report also states that San Diego County’s life sciences employees earn an average wage of $115,000, which is almost $60,000 more than the average wage for all jobs in the county based on numbers from the California Employment Development Department.

According to a JLL Research report, San Diego County ranks third in the nation in U.S. life sciences cluster ranking, with Torrey Pines at the heart. The report identifies UTC as the fastest growing submarket, Sorrento Mesa as the highest occupancy submarket, Sorrento Valley as an incubator hub, and North County as a leader in delivering new industrial and R&D product in the current cycle.

The JLL Research report finds the life sciences market continuing to see national demand for facilities. Specifically recognizing The Alexandria at Torrey Pines, the report praises the San Diego region, stating that, “supplemented by best-in-class landlords, San Diego is redefining the future of suburban lab campuses,” and:

At The Alexandria at Torrey Pines, the REIT has built out a life science campus centered around a shared amenity center that is accessible to all tenants. In addition to shared conference rooms, it boasts a fitness center, a restaurant and bar, as well as an outdoor patio area. This fosters an innovative and collaborative environment and promotes a communal atmosphere that goes beyond your standard 9-5 campus.

Across the U.S., investors in tight clusters are attempting to convert office space to lab space as a solution to high demand. Of San Diego UTC’s 1.1 million square feet of new inventory in 2017, the majority is converted office space. Overall, JLL Research expects life sciences industry sales to rise over the next few years, and with continued growth the number of jobs and space will need to grow as well.

Last year, San Diego County generated $33.6 billion in economic activity, and was awarded $833 million for new research by the National Institute of Health, according to a report from Biocom. The CLSA report tracked NIH funding by congressional district with the 49th District, represented by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), coming in first at $722 million in awards.

CLSA’s report projects the region to attract $668 million in life sciences venture funding. However, the Biocom report forecasts a tapering off of employment growth in the sector over the next several years, due to “virtual” companies with fewer workers and more outsourced services, such as contract research organizations (CROs). To this view, the JLL Research report asserts that for companies seeking to remain in top tier clusters, access to talent is a top priority for life sciences tenants.

Your Guide to Being Gluten-Free in the San Diego Area

Your Guide to Being Gluten-Free in the San Diego AreaAll across the country, it has gotten easier to maintain a gluten-free diet, and San Diego is no exception. In fact, the growth of the restaurant industry means there are more gluten-free options than ever. So whether you’ve got celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or are just trying to eat healthier, check out our resources for living gluten-free in SD.

Gluten-Free Grocery Stores

Most supermarket chains now include at least a small gluten-free section, but these few offer a multitude of options.

  • Barons MarketA smaller, family-run chain with multiple locations (North Park, Point Loma, Rancho Bernardo, Alpine, Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar)
  • Keil’s Fresh Food StorePopular for its hundreds of gluten-free products (San Carlos)
  • Whole Foods Market – Offers natural and organic foods including gluten-free items (Hillcrest, La Jolla, Del Mar)


20 of Our Favorite Gluten-Free Restaurants, Bakeries, and Cafés

  • 2Good2B Bakery and Café – Gourmet gluten-, corn-, and soy-free foods (Encinitas, Rancho Bernardo)
  • Bushfire Kitchen – A wide array of GF and GF-by-request American dishes, including breakfast (Del Mar)
  • Café Gratitude – Well-known for its vegan fare, it also serves GF items, including bread (Little Italy)
  • Chocolate Bar & Bistro – Vanilla, caramel, and cacao-inspired cuisine including GF brunch, dinner, and desserts (South Park)
  • Civico 1845 – Authentic Italian with gluten-reduced, gluten-free, and celiac-safe options (Little Italy)
  • Coronado’s Gluten-Free Pantry –Pick-up only bakery items all GF (Coronado)
  • Cueva Bar – GF tapas selection and happy hour hot spot (University Heights)
  • The Curious Fork – A bakery, café, and cooking school with a particularly tasty GF breakfast menu (Solana Beach)
  • Del Mar Rendezvous – Popular Chinese and vegan food with dozens of GF dishes (Del Mar)
  • Donna Jean – Vegan comfort food with many GF offerings (Banker’s Hill)
  • Duck Foot Brewing Company – Co-founded by a celiac sufferer, all the GF beer you can drink (Miramar)
  • Fig Tree Café – Allergy-conscious kitchen (Pacific Beach, Hillcrest, Liberty Station)
  • Garden Kitchen –Farm-to-table foods from scratch with GF options (Rolando)
  • Mendocino Farms – Popular GF-option salad and sandwich mini-chain (La Jolla)
  • The Mission – Highly popular brunch spot with a full GF menu (Mission Beach, North Park, East Village)
  • Officine Buona Forchetta – Upscale Italian place offering GF pizza (Liberty Station)
  • Red Door – Farm-to-fork restaurant with GF options (Mission Hills)
  • Solare – Southern Italian cuisine with GF bread, pasta, and pizza options (Liberty Station)
  • Starry Lane Bakery – This little piece of heaven bakes all GF—as well as nut-, soy-, dairy-, and egg-free – breads and cakes (Hillcrest)
  • True Food Kitchen – Diet-friendly kitchen with delicious seasonal menus (Mission Valley, UTC)


Tips for Going Gluten-Free

  • Get this gluten-free buyer’s guide that gives yearly awards for gluten-free excellence in dozens of categories from food and cookbooks to magazines and college campuses.
  • Try gluten-free pasta or look for vegetable-based alternatives (like spiralized veggie noodles).
  • Check your supplements. Some contain ingredients derived from wheat.
  • Don’t forget your cosmetics. Toothpaste and lipstick can contain gluten.

Best Amusement Parks & Water Parks in the San Diego Area

Best Amusement Parks & Water Parks in the San Diego Area by Willis Allen Real Estate

While our beaches are the standout gem of San Diego’s tourist attractions, America’s Finest City also boasts world-famous amusement and water parks that host millions of visitors each year.

Buyer’s tip: If you want to visit multiple parks and save money at the same time, check out theme park passes that combine admissions to multiple parks in one purchase. SoCal CityPASS or the Go San Diego Card are two good options. You can also find deals on tickets through aRes Travel, Trusted Tours, and Costco.

San Diego Zoo – It’s world-famous and a zoo bucket list must-see. Visitors of all ages enjoy seeing more than 3,500 animals, including 650 rare and exotic species such as Giant Pandas, and the beautiful 100-acre tropical garden setting. If you just can’t get enough, there are special experiences and activities to keep you busy, including tours, animal encounters, and shows.

*Military families, seniors, AAA members, groups, and students are eligible for discounted tickets to the zoo and Safari Park.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park – The zoo’s Safari Park is a sprawling 1800-acre wildlife sanctuary 30 miles northeast of San Diego in the San Pasqual Valley. The reserve offers a safari experience with more than 300 African and Asian animals in natural habitats. Brand new as of May, the Walkabout Australia safari adds animals, including kangaroos and wallabies, and plants from Down Under to the park’s menagerie.

LEGOLAND California – You don’t have to be a Lego fanatic to enjoy this theme park. It is 128 acres of more than 60 interactive attractions, shows, and rides for kids aged 2-12. Next door are the LEGOLAND Water Park and SEA LIFE Aquarium for even more to do. New in 2018 are the LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens Miniland Model Display, Surfers’ Cove water park expansion, and recently-opened 250-room Castle Hotel.

*Visit the website for information on specials deals and packages as well discounted tickets for teachers and homeschooled students.

SeaWorld San Diego – For 54 years, this San Diego original animal theme park has been bringing amazing marine life experiences to the heart of Mission Bay Park. Today the park has dozens of aquariums, exhibits and shows, as well as rides (some wet), play areas, and animal interactions and tours including dolphins and whales. New in 2018 are the Electric Eel, San Diego’s tallest, fastest roller coaster, and a weekend Sesame Street Party Parade.

Aquatica San Diego – SeaWorld’s water park Aquatica in Chula Vista combines close-up animal experiences – including flamingos and turtles – with rides, slides, pools, and rivers for a truly one-of-a-kind water park. From a high-speed 375-foot slide to one of the largest wave pools in Southern California with more than 500,000 gallons of water, there is something for everyone.

Belmont Park – This beachfront amusement park offers uniquely SoCal kind of entertainment with pay-as-you-play carnival-style rides and activities, plus shopping and dining, on the Mission Beach Boardwalk. The Giant Dipper, the city’s oldest roller coaster, has been thrilling visitors since 1925. The recently added Sky Ropes Adventure invites participants to cross tight ropes, balance beams, and other obstacles

*Parking and admission to the park is free!

New growth in San Diego’s military industry

San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world and the largest federal military workforce in the country. On a local scale, about 20% of San Diego’s gross regional product (GRP) is the result of defense-related spending – that’s $50 billion. The industry is key to the region’s talent and innovation, economy, and role in the nation’s security interests.

Congress recently passed a two-year budget bill that boosts defense spending $165 billion over the next two years, assuaging any doubts about defense spending uncertainty. Last year’s defense spending of $634 billion will grow to $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year. In March, San Diego was awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment to support the resiliency and growth of local defense contractors.

Shipbuilding and satellites are primary areas of work as well as emerging industries like unmanned systems and cybersecurity that are burgeoning in San Diego and are expanding into international markets.

In an unsurprisingly growing industry – one in which local colleges and universities are trying to keep up with workforce demand – cybersecurity accounts for more  than 7,600 cyber jobs in San Diego that generate $1.9 billion in economic impact, according to the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE). The center promotes efforts to position San Diego as a global hub of cybersecurity innovation. In April, along with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), it hosted a tour of local tech companies for Dr. John Zangardi, the Department of Homeland Security Chief Information Officer whose office is leading the trip.

The companies included in the tour were Qualcomm, AttackIQ, MindTouch, Brain Corp, Ausgar Technologies, Unisys, FICO, Webroot and Illumina. CCOE said the tour “highlights the importance of collaboration between the public, private, academic, government and military sectors to foster greater cybersecurity.”

The other quickly expanding industry – and one in which collaboration has also proved important – is the unmanned systems industry. It’s an industry in which San Diego is poised to become a vital player. Two of the largest military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturers, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics, are located here. Furthermore in May, San Diego was among 10 agencies in the country chosen to partner in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program” – a program aimed at accelerating the development of drone technology.

Emerging opportunities in the commercial drone market have also been seen in the region since 2015 when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) loosened restrictions on companies’ drone use. Between 2016 and 2021, the FAA expects more than a tenfold increase in the nationwide commercial drone fleet and a 1,000-2,000 percent increase in number of drone pilots. It also projects $82 billion national economic growth due to the industry by 2025.

Father’s Day Events in San Diego

Father’s Day is right around the corner! For the car dad, the sports dad, the gourmet dad, and even the party dad – we have a list of fun happenings to celebrate every kind of dad in San Diego County.

Dad and little girl on beachFriday, June 15

Saturday, June 16

Sunday, June 17

Tuesday, June 19

10 Restaurants in the San Diego Area You’ll Love This Valentine’s Day

Mood lighting, a little wine, a table of mouth-watering food and your sweetheart – nothing beats a romantic dinner to celebrate love on Valentine’s Day. There are plenty of restaurants in San Diego County offering specials, set meals, and celebratory treats, but here is our list of top choices. We recommend making reservations ASAP!

  • 1500 Ocean, Hotel del Coronado

    Experience beachside dining at its best with a magnificent four-course Valentine’s Day menu by Chef Patrick Ponsaty, including options such as saffron risotto, seared veal loin and white chocolate velvet cake.

  • Addison, Del Mar

    Fall in love again and again with nine irresistible French-inspired courses. 6-9 p.m.; $275 per person; $500 per person with wine pairings.

  • AVANT Restaurant, Rancho Bernardo Inn

    A candlelit dinner for two at AVANT is the perfect place for romance. A four-course prix fixe dinner with live music includes courses such as charred beets, octopus carpaccio, Cornish game hen, and profiteroles. $85 per person; $120 with wine pairings.

  • Bertrand at Mister A’s, Gaslamp Quarter

    The kitchen will be serving a three-course prix fixe menu with temptations including caviar, lobster tail, osso buco, beef Wellington, and Meyer lemon almond polenta cake. $65 per person for lunch; $135 per person for dinner.

  • Bleu Boheme, Kensington

    Celebrate love with a special three-course Parisian dining adventure. The French-inspired dishes include options like steak carpaccio, lobster crepe, gnocchi à la Parisienne, crème brulée, and more.

  • Clubhouse Grill and Club M, Fairmount Grand Del Mar

    Treat your special someone to three courses of delectable creations, including grand oysters, beer-braised veal short rib, and dark chocolate skillet brownie. 4-8 p.m.; $45 per person.

  • Juniper & Ivy, Little Italy

    Don’t miss the opportunity to show your special someone how loved they are at Top Chef All-Star winner Richard Blais’ Left Coast Eatery. Enjoy a four-course prix fixe menu; $105 with additional wine pairings available a la carte.

  • Kettner Exchange, Little Italy

    Enjoy a prix fixe menu, including hot oil-seared Kusshi oysters, big-eye tuna tarts, lobster gnocchi, New York strip, and chocolate “terroir.” $75 per person.

  • The Marine Room, La Jolla

    Indulge your honey with a decadent four-course dinner featuring main course options of Norwegian halibut, Maine lobster tail, Mary’s Farm organic duck breast, and Midwestern Black Angus filet mignon. $150 per person.

  • Stake Chophouse and Bar, Coronado

    Chef Andrew’s four-course prix fixe offers selections such as king crab Louis, a foie gras duo, 35-day dry-aged New York, Wagyu eye of rib, and rose pavlova. 6:30-8:30 p.m.; $120 per person.

Willis Allen Real Estate is Expanding to Banker’s Hill!

The Park, Willis Allen's newest office locationWe have some exciting news to share with you! Willis Allen Real Estate is expanding. We’re opening our sixth office location this summer at The Park in Bankers Hill, located at 2855 5th Avenue.

Now, Willis Allen has six offices strategically located throughout San Diego County to serve you. Our headquarters is in La Jolla, and we have additional offices in Coronado, Point Loma, Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe.

Here’s what our President & CEO Andrew E. Nelson had to say about our big news. “We are thrilled to expand the Willis Allen brand into the Bankers Hill neighborhood. Ideally located in the heart of Uptown, our new location affords maximum exposure and accessibility that is within proximity to Balboa Park, fine restaurants, museums, shopping and more. This contemporary, sleek office will allow us to market to growing San Diego neighborhoods and attract agents looking for an innovative, tech-savvy brokerage.”

Leslie Kilpatrick, who also manages our Coronado branch, will lead the new Bankers Hill office. She spent 25 years as a full-time broker before transitioning into a management role at Willis Allen. We know she’ll do a great job with our new team!

Stay tuned for more details as our new office takes shape. In the meantime you can contact us at any time for help with your real estate needs.

List of New Year’s Eve Events in the San Diego Area

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? If sitting in front of the TV with a confetti popper isn’t quite what you have in mind this year, check out our list of NYE happenings all over San Diego County. Say goodbye to 2017 and welcome the New Year with a celebration you’ll never forget!

  • If an intimate dinner is more your speed, it’s the perfect time to check out one of San Diego’s spectacular eateries you’ve been wanting to try. Many offer NYE packages for a quieter celebration in a festive setting. These tend to fill up fast, so make your reservation ASAP!


Where to Eat on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day in San Diego County

table set for Christmas feast

Some San Diego restaurants have a gift for the cook in your house this holiday season. Several local eateries are open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Here are our top picks for festive feasting this holiday season.

  • 1500 OCEAN – This upscale waterfront restaurant at the Hotel del Coronado features a decadent multi-course meal Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado $$$
  • Chandler’s – This oceanfront restaurant in Carlsbad is open 3-10 p.m., with a prime rib dinner on the 24th and an all-day happy hour on the 25th with chef’s specialty appetizers. 1 Ponto Rd, Carlsbad $$
  • Del Mar Rendezvous – If Chinese is a your holiday tradition, this modern restaurant known for its gluten-free and vegetarian options is your spot! 1555 Camino Del Mar #102, Del Mar $$$
  • Fogo de Chão – This popular Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouse in the Gaslamp Quarter offers dinner prices all day on the 24th and 25th. 668 Sixth Ave, San Diego $$$
  • Larsen’s Steakhouse – If a steak that cuts like butter is on your Christmas list this year, Larsen’s in La Jolla has a must. 4301 La Jolla Village Drive, Ste. 1050, San Diego $$$
  • The Marine Room – Iconic for its beachside setting and amazing view – not to mention the delicious cuisine – this La Jolla seafood restaurant offers mouthwatering specials on the 24th and 25th. 2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla $$$
  • Mille Fleurs – At this French Californian restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, Chef de Cuisine Martin Woesle serves a delightful three course meal on Christmas Eve and an á la carte menu on Christmas Day. 6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe $$$
  • Pacifica Del Mar – This oceanfront setting serves up award-winning coastal cuisine on Christmas Eve with a fixed three-course menu on the 25th. 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar $$$
  • Peohe’s Restaurant – A fresh fish dinner on sunny Coronado Island will make any Christmas merry. 1201 1st St., Coronado $$$
  • Rustic Root – This Gaslamp restaurant will serve a three-course traditional Christmas Day meal with a rustic twist, plus seasonal cocktails on the rooftop. 535 Fifth Ave, San Diego $$$
  • Terra American Bistro – Into local, sustainable, and organic food sources? This East College District kitchen will offer a mouth-watering three-course Christmas dinner. 7091 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego $$$
  • Veladora – The restaurant at Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa offers a three-course Christmas Eve dinner and a Christmas Day buffet, accompanied by live music. 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe $$$
  • Vessel Restaurant + Bar – The Kona Kai Resort and Spa in Point Loma dishes up New American cuisine from Chef Roy Hendrickson with a decadent three-course fixed menu on Christmas Day. 1551 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego $$$

Christmas Concerts You Don’t Want to Miss in San Diego County

  • Dave Koz Christmas Tour (Dec. 14, 8 p.m.)

    Balboa Theatre proudly welcomes back saxophonist Dave Koz for his 20th anniversary Christmas Tour.

  • San Diego Symphony: Noel Noel (Dec. 16, 17, 22 & 23, 8 p.m. and Dec. 17 & 23, 2 p.m.)

    Sameer Patel conducts the orchestra in classic holiday favorites and a Christmas carol sing-along, plus a visit from old St. Nick.

  • The Palomar Pacific Music Men (Dec. 16, 2 p.m.)

    The Country Club Senior Center in Oceanside offers a barbershop Christmas concert featuring the Pacific Belle’s.

  • Hillcrest Wind Ensemble Holiday Review (Dec. 16, 7 p.m.)

    The San Diego Women’s Club hosts the ensemble under the direction of John Winkelman, bringing you swing-style holiday favorites, a salute to Benny Goodman, and the Hillcrest Holiday Singers.

  • John Doan: Christmas Unplugged (Dec. 17, 7 p.m.)

    The Museum of Making Music presents John Doan’s Christmas Unplugged – Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit. It promises to be a unique Christmas audio-visual experience for all ages.

  • Westminster Choir: Christmas by Candlelight (Dec. 17, 7 p.m.)

    The Westminster Choir – with members and friends of the San Diego Symphony – presents Robert Shaw’s The Many Moods of Christmas at First Presbyterian Church.

  • Bach Collegium: G.F. Handel – Messiah HWV 56 (Dec. 18, 19, 20, 7:30 p.m.)

    The Bach Collegium presents a classic Christmas music celebration at St. James by-the-sea Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, and Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church.

  • Kehlani & friends (Dec. 19, 8 p.m.)

    It’s “A tsnmi Christmas” at the Observatory North Park, including 16-year-old R&B artist Marteen.

  • A Berkley Hart Christmas (Dec. 21, 6:30 p.m.)

    Berkley Hart and special guests present their annual Christmas show at the Music Box.

  • Peter Sprague’s Christmas Eve Concert (Dec. 24, 1-4 p.m.)

    Spend a relaxing – and free – afternoon with jazz guitarist Peter Sprague on Christmas Eve at the L’Auberge Del Mar Amphitheater.