The San Diego City Council Tuesday unanimously passed an update to the Barrio Logan Community Plan, replacing a 43-year-old blueprint with one intended to end what some council members called environmental racism in the San Diego neighborhood plagued with long-simmering tensions between residents and heavy industry.
Dozens of people called in to the council meeting — nearly all of whom supported the update.
“The plan before the council today represents the culmination of decades of hard work, controversy and community advocacy that was followed by unprecedented collaboration,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “Finally, we have an updated Community Plan for Barrio Logan that addresses longstanding environmental justice issues while allowing the maritime industry to operate consistent with the community’s vision.”
The council adopted an updated plan in 2013, but voters repealed it nine months later in a ballot referendum.
The update consists of an agreement between the neighborhood, environmental groups and the ship building and repair industry intended to preserve the working port while protecting neighborhood residents from negative air quality and noise associated with the industry.
“This is a great day for the Barrio Logan community,” said Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, who represents Barrio Logan in District 8. “This plan protects our residents from exposure to pollution, plans for future increases in density and ensures that amenities like parks and transportation infrastructure are built.”
Some callers mentioned developing asthma as children in the community, a complaint echoed by Councilman Joe LaCava, who was raised in Logan Heights and developed childhood asthma.
“I know some neighbors that have asthma, in particular children,” Barrio Logan resident Elizabeth Chavez said. “With this plan in place, future generations’ health won’t be at high risk for developing even worse health issues.”
The new plan includes inclusionary housing and anti-displacement protections to safeguard the community’s long-standing residents in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. It also has provisions for affordable homes to be replaced after redevelopment, lengthen notice requirements before tenancy can be terminated, strengthened relocation assistance requirements and prioritization of existing Barrio Logan residents for placement in new affordable homes.
Also in the agreement is a buffer zone between heavy industrial uses and residential neighborhoods. In this area, new industrial uses that generate air quality and other impacts are prohibited to protect public health.
“Barrio Logan residents deserve to live in a safe and healthy environment, and the maritime industry is important to keep our economy thriving,” said Mike Hansen, the city’s planning director. “Barrio Logan has a mix of land uses near each other which has created a unique set of challenges.”
The previous plan from 1978 allowed industrial and residential uses to be located side by side.
“For more than 40 years, Barrio Logan residents have fought for a community plan update to protect them from the polluting industries operating next to their homes and schools,” said Diane Takvorian, executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition. “Almost a decade after an industry-led referendum defeated their chance at an update, Barrio Logan will finally get a community plan update that will prioritize their health, air quality and culture, while slowing gentrification.”
Along with the rezoning, the plan includes revised truck route restrictions that will direct port-related truck traffic to designated routes.
The plan also envisions more ways for residents to “bike, walk and get around, better connections to jobs and services and access to public space, community amenities, parks and healthy foods,” a statement from the city read. One example is a potential freeway lid park over Interstate 5 to reconnect Barrio Logan and Logan Heights. The construction of I-5 during the 1960s divided the Barrio Logan community.
“The Barrio Logan Community Plan Update has been long-awaited by the residents of this neighborhood,” said Josephine Talamantez, Barrio Logan resident. “It is a day when we can finally feel somewhat safe in our own neighborhood — something that other San Diego neighborhoods have never had to think about.”
Activists said the update is a good start, but not everything the neighborhood’s residents need.
“On top of pollution residents live with daily, they are now threatened by gentrification,” said Julie Corrales, Barrio Logan resident and policy advocate at Environmental Health Coalition. “Although this plan provides unprecedented gentrification and displacement protections, the community still needs more.”
“It must be this council’s most pressing priority in the coming year to adopt an update of the city’s Tenant’s Right to Know Ordinance that will provide more tenant protections,” she added.
Updated at 4:23 p.m. December 7, 2021
–City News Service