Barrio Logan
Barrio Logan with downtown San Diego in the distance. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Negotiations have stalled between Mitsubishi Cement Corp. and the Port of San Diego for a proposal to build a much-debated cement warehouse at the port’s Tenth Avenue Terminal in Barrio Logan.

The proposed warehouse is intended to produce 600,000 metric tons of cement materials a year — 35% of the Henderson, Nevada-based company’s total production annually.

According to the company, the project’s goal is to “repurpose an existing on-terminal warehouse, create jobs and establish a local source of cement, which currently can only be obtained by being trucked in — long distances — from the high desert or the Port of Long Beach.”

Climate activists and some residents of Barrio Logan and National City have opposed the project for years, referring to it as a “mega-polluter” from idling truck diesel fumes, among other environmental issues.

“This would never have been proposed in a community like Coronado, so why do Logan and National City have to continually fight for the right to breathe clean air?” asked Julie Corrales, Barrio Logan policy advocate for the Environmental Health Coalition. “The reason is environmental racism. Today, we celebrate our victory but also send a clear message to decision-makers: Do not allow proposals like MCC to come forward again. The community is clear — no more diesel death.”

The company — which has the project listed prominently on its website — described the cement warehouse as “an environmentally clean, electrified project, with an emissions reduction plan, and installation of electric infrastructure that will support port and community efforts to decrease local impacts and actually promote an environmentally cleaner port.”

The Board of Port Commissioners rejected a similar proposal from MCC in 2020, giving the company a directive to develop measurable zero-emission truck requirements for the project. The anti-warehouse activists claim that in those two years, MCC failed to present any plans for ZEV trucks.

“Mitsubishi disrespected the community by refusing to come forward with any plans to use zero emission trucks,” said Diane Takvorian, co-founder of the Environmental Health Coalition. “They also underestimated the strength, commitment and persistence of residents who pushed back hard — refusing to allow more deadly pollution in our communities.”

Port board Chairman Rafael Castellanos said the port would be willing to have future negotiations with the company “that meet the goals of our Maritime Clean Air Strategy, which strives to support our maritime businesses that help the regional economy thrive while also significantly improving air quality for our neighbors and those who visit and work on our waterfront.”

“We would urge MCC to continue their most recent path should the day come when they want to re-open negotiations,” Castellanos said. “In the meantime, the port continues to collaborate with our current tenants to meet the goals of our MCAS and is open to businesses that share our dedication to a zero emissions future.”

The warehouse would be located within a mile of Cesar Chavez Park and Perkins Elementary School.

More than 800 community members emailed or wrote letters to port commissioners calling on them to reject the project.

Updated at 12 p.m. Feb. 1, 2023

— City News Service