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Good morning. Like many people here in town, I start my day checking out regional news on voiceofsandiego.org. Yesterday, I was happy to see a story in the front of the Union-Tribune’s San Diego section about our City Council voting to approve the Salk Institute’s plan to expand its facilities.

As you are all no doubt aware, land use is a delicate issue, anywhere, much less San Diego, which has its own earned reputation for setting land use policy and decisions via lawsuit. And the expansion of the Salk Institute was a prime example of the difficulties of land use issues. There was a long-back story of the competitive need for expansion, and a strong group of citizens that didn’t agree with the planned locations.

But the Salk is a very special place for us. Given how our citizens voted to approve the City Council’s plan of setting aside of this landon Torrey Pines back in 1959, we think of Torrey Pines as the emotional center of our life science community, and Salk is one of its most famous residents.

For good reason — after all, this was where Jonas Salk, inventor of the Polio vaccine, decide he wanted to build his scientific legacy, which was designed by famed architect Louis Kahn, and is one of the more famous buildings west of the Mississippi (http://www.salk.edu/about/about_campus_architecture.php?sid=about&subsid=campus). This is also where Francis Crick, one of the godfathers of DNA and genetics, worked until he passed away a few years ago.

What was so special about Monday’s decision from the City Council was that all of the different stakeholders — from the Salk, to the community planning groups, to the life science industry, to the residents that opposed the Salk’s initial plans, worked together to come up with a solution to the problem.

Like many business associations, in general, we support the growth and expansion of our industry, which is the largest technology cluster here in San Diego. While many citizens don’t typically think about how competitive a research institution has to be, when you see the incredibly attractive financial and land offers other states can offer, to the competition for the smartest and best lab researchers and post docs, to the continued competition for the dwindling NIH funds that go to support basic research, we are happy to help one of our institutions work with its neighbors and the community to expand.

Fortunately, this decision should be the last time we ever have to deal with any issues about land use, infrastructure and water and power.

— JOE PANETTA

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