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Judge Rules Barrio Logan Community Plan Will Be Referendum On June 3 Ballot

April 7, 2014 1:15 p.m.

GUESTS:

Diane Takvorian, Executive Director, Environmental Health Coalition

Chris Wahl, public relations spokesman for San Diego's shipbuilding industry

Related Story: Judge Rules Barrio Logan Community Plan Will Be Referendum On June 3 Ballot

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition, if the information given to the petition signers is misleading, should that petition still be allowed to move on as a ballot measure? That was the question before a San Diego judge last week regarding the Barrio Logan community plan. That is the community plan that the attempts to provide more separation between residential and industrial areas of Barrio Logan. After the San Diego city Council of approved the plan, members of the maritime industry began a can campaign to get petition from the voters took the petition drive succeeded, but some of the information given to signers was misleading. The judge also love the ballot measure to move forward, saying she did not want to interfere with the Democratic process. Joining me to talk about the ruling in what comes next are my guests, Diane tech oriented and Chris wall. Welcome to the program. Diane, I think this issue is pretty Difficult to follow. Many people thought this plan was a finished deal, when the city Council approved it. Tell us briefly why you believe the plan was needed.

DIANE TAKVORIAN: I think you really encapsulated it when you summarize the beginning of the program, committee members and the city Council, everyone who participated in our five-year fifty meeting planning process believe that it was over. It was one of the most democratic and inclusive hospices that I've ever seen, in the city of San Diego. We believe it's the right thing to do, the city Council has affirmed that and the wedding commission has affirmed that, because Barrio Logan is the only community in the city of San Diego that allows mixed-use zoning which allows putting industries to be right next door to residential. We all know from a common sense perspective that is wrong, it threatens children's health and family's health and we know the logical way to do the planning is to have industrial neighborhoods and residential neighborhoods and commercial areas. That is what Barrio Logan residents want for themselves and we all know that is the right way that it should be, this plan goes forward and allows that to happen. It separates industries Industries that pollute from homes and schools.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Chris, can you tell us also why the maritime industry opposes this new zoning?

CHRIS WAHL: Absolutely, I would differ from Diane's position, from the outset this plan was complete fabrication of the truth, and it really did mislead the public in convincing decision-makers and that this was a fair and balanced process, the fact of the matter is there are two alternatives that were originally discussed his Bob Filner got in office he eliminated one of those despite all of the promises to members of the community, and we tried very hard to work with the elected officials and city Council to find a solution. But at the end of the day, this plan is not about protecting children or health, the reason that is the case is as the city's toxicology reports find that cancer risks will increase because of this plan because so much housing placed next to a freeway.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is it the industry's intention that the attention that this will hurt the maritime industry in San Diego?

CHRIS WAHL: Absolutely, and that is the other issue why this plan is so bad, the president of all three shipyards were building all kinds of products that go to the military and they been here for decades, they have found based on prior experiences in prior cities, when you encroach upon this kind of development and put so much new housing next to a shipyard, that leads to greater restrictions and emanations of the shipyards amid some of people supporting opposition because of that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The city Council approved the plan to change the zoning in Barrio Logan with more separation between residential and industry, with the maritime industry said is that they would not basically except that, they started a petition drive in an attempt to get the city Council to either rescind the boat or force the issue on the ballot, why would you think that voters would likely overturn the plan?

CHRIS WAHL: I don't think there's any question, you can put immunity housing in any city or any part of the city, you cannot build a United States destroyer and the shipbuilding industry has for many years pretty incredible service to the Navy. The fact of the matter is, this plan jeopardizes shipyards and jobs and financially Puts at risk billions of dollars of that income that goes through the city.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Would enjoy a organization and supporters of the plan start to hear about they waived the petition drive is being conducted, that led to your filing a lawsuit?

DIANE TAKVORIAN: We went to the process of the city Council and we thought that that was the final decision and we're surprised to learn that the industry of opponents were going ahead to try to referendum the plan, we knew that that was part of the process and that was legal, and we were shocked to learn and started getting phone calls from people who said I know something about the plan, but I ran into a signature gathering at the store who told me the shipyards had been shut down by the city Council and that condominiums were being built there, we said that Be true and then we kept getting those calls and we went out to investigate and we videotaped them saying exactly that, and that 46,000 jobs would be lost, neither of those things are true, so we decided that was just wrong and when they qualified, we filed a lawsuit to say that they were in violation violation of the state election code, I want to see the judge found that they were in violation and she found that in fact they had misrepresented the truth, they just would not be lost and this was a complete fabrication and a huge exaggeration, I want to let everyone know that the shipyards are not included in the planning area at all, you're not impacted and there is no statement that could be further from the truth. There were many meetings that addressed the fact that we want those jobs to stay there, and we want to protect them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The me address the petition for a moment, and you know what petition gatherers were told to tell signers?

CHRIS WAHL: I was involved in the and the petition gatherers were educated on the process and what is important to know, it's simply a matter of difference of opinion, he said that there would be 46,000 jobs that potentially could be threatened as a result of this plan, but the judge found is that that number might have been slightly higher and was more like 21,000 that can be risked. My question to your listeners, if we're talking about 21,000 jobs or 46,000 jobs, isn't this a good in indication that opposition BNC should be voted no of onset we can detect those jobs? The fact of the matter is at the end of the day if this plan increases health risks to local residents and threatens whether it's 10,000 and 20,000 jobs, but it's a clear-cut case that this is going to go down it needs to go down and it needs to be started over, it was qualified from the beginning and it was in frustrated right those working close to Bob Filner to eliminate a plan that would have been discussed and presented equally to decision-makers of the time of the Council vote.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The statements were 46,000 jobs and $14 billion at risk, if this plan were to go through. And, I believe that the judge cited that may be 7000 jobs were at risk here.

CHRIS WAHL: Actually, if you read this, it says that someone will maybe 25 to 21,000 jobs, on page 3.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay, well, is accuracy rather important when you go to the public and ask them to support an issue that you want to see on the ballot?

CHRIS WAHL: Absolutely, and maybe you're not aware of this but, every petition gatherer was required to sign an affidavit of providing a trip to the public in the care the petition with us and with Diane is not telling you a witness is my cell phone or own recordings, they went into a lot of signature gatherers and cited them and try to create a situation by asking questions that they do not know the answers to, petition gatherers are brought in to help protect constitutional process of the referendum and actually put microphones and people faced people's faces and asked them provocative questions which led to questions and responses that they wanted to get, they took that liberation and filed the suit but they're also not saying there are two other plans that the judge ruled out a nail this is also the second judgment away but that is rejected their objective in their ejected was to silence the will of the voter and take his ballot measure off the campaign and June 3 and two judges have now said that there is no basis for that and the voters to decide in the voters will decide in June 3.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: For this disclosure Sandhya Dirks also got a petition from the shipyard industry to make in accurate statement on tape in terms of asking questions and getting answers from supporters of this.

CHRIS WAHL: Did she disclose who she was?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I believe so.

DIANE TAKVORIAN: Mister Wahl is also not telling you that he in fact change the instructions to the signature gatherers when it was noted by the media including the reporter, that these lies were being told to voters, he changed his instructions and we uncovered those emails as a part of our lawsuit, he essentially acknowledged that information was false, and they should not be giving that information.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, Diane, even though the judge found that certain statements were to misleading, she said that she would allow the ballot measure to board, what reasons to get for that?

DIANE TAKVORIAN: My understanding the reason that she gives she felt that it was a high burden to say that an election should be called off, that that of course is part of our democratic process and she felt that she could not call that election off, and the burden of harm was that EHC and the shipyards and Chris's Association would have the opportunity to present those cases to the voters and I think that may be true, in an ideal world, but the fact is that his clients, the shipyard Association of already put in half $1 million, towards this initiative. We know that we will be outspent, we know that the community's voice will be much, much smaller, and so we appreciate opportunities like this to come on and talk to voters to tell them to vote yes on B and C because it is the right thing to do to protect ourselves.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are you intending to appeal this ruling?

DIANE TAKVORIAN: We have no opportunity to appeal because April 4 the same day that the decision came down was the last eight the ballot arguments could be put forward. So the ballots are being printed as we speak and they will go forward, in appeal would be meaningless.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chris, from what you're saying it does not sound like the ship building industry regrets the fact that her have some petition signers were misled because basically you feel that the information provided, even if the numbers were a little bit wrong was accurate?

CHRIS WAHL: As a mentioned earlier this was a matter of opinion and there's a report other thing that the maritime jobs, there are 46,000 jobs that come to the regional economy and the subtlety that Diane is talking about is whether all those jobs are directly related to the shipyards or indirectly, our system is that the shipyards and the reports as of the shipyards of the backyard backbone of the maritime industry, we are again saying that potentially 46,000 jobs could be threatened. Whether that none number is 46,000 or 20,000, that is a huge number and, a wide sweeping plan needs to be referred but in front of voters.

DIANE TAKVORIAN: But the bottom-line, no jobs will be lost in the official documents say that 5000 jobs will be added, so there will be more growth in the neighborhood and there will be more industrial growth in fact because there's a whole section of the community that is residential and industrial mixed that will be zones all industrial. That in exchange for those areas that are mostly residential and some industrial, that will be zones all residential and community commercial.

CHRIS WAHL: And that is just laughable, because what Diane is referencing is the same document from the city that says that it is going to build 450,000 ft.≤ of commercial office space in San Diego in Barrio Logan, is a thirty story office building an equivalent of back and that is where the those fabricated jobs are, the reality of it is the San Diego regional Congress in the economic development Corporation and the advisory Council, and the last three mayors, they have all come out to oppose proposition B and C because they're going to damage the regional economy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When it comes to job doesn't the shipbuilding union workers step act from supporting this particular effort to get this on the ballot?

CHRIS WAHL: They did, and I would tell you that they did that during the political campaign that David Alvarez was running for mayor, if you talk individually to shipyard workers said they will tell you that they side with her employer, union had seven different opinion.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One more question, Diane made a comment about the amount of money and that the maritime industry is parent to spend on this ballot measure, how much of the going to put in this?

CHRIS WAHL: I will just say that this is a critically important issue and I mentioned earlier there's only a few places they could build the United States destroyer and the fact of the matter is General Dynamics NASCO is the only ship building this facility that builds new product must the Mississippi for the Navy, is an important issue and is going to be protected.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How much money of the going to put into this?

CHRIS WAHL: Item now if we know at this time, we're will do what it takes to educate voters to make sure that they understand why they should vote no on propositions B and C.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Finally to both of you, can San Diegans expect a major media battle between now and June on this ballot measure?

DIANE TAKVORIAN: Protecting children's health is critically important and all this plan does is separate toxic industries from where children live in where they go to school, it does not touch the shipyards, all of the discussion about how important the Navy is and all that outpouring this shipyards are, we agree with that and that's why the plan builds in the transition zone between those industries and the community to keep both of them safe so what they we need to remember is to vote yes on B and C to protect children's health and to protect jobs because they will be protected on this plan.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Where's your funding coming from?

DIANE TAKVORIAN: We are asking people to give five, ten, twenty dollars, because that is what we do, does grassroots fundraising, we do not run a multinational corporation that has $9 billion like General Dynamics in revenue each year, we'll be outspent by 1 million to one I am sure.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Chris, what you expect San Diegans to see in terms of the media battle?

CHRIS WAHL: There's two things that I want to leave your listeners with, number one is that this is a bad plan, it's very harmful, and doesn't pack jobs, and the fact of the matter is all of the lands in front of the shipyards is being resound your in Barrio Logan there's existing hundred and twenty area covers of industrial land and is illuminated down to sixty and 50% of the land is gone, there's no place for the shipyards to expand, there is no place for the military to expand, make expand, this is not about Chris children's desk is not about children's health, what asked her why can she support a plan when the city's own toxicology report says that the total cancer risk goes up when you build up housing next to the freeway?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: My question to you was how much media battle were will San Diego expect to see? Is this going to be all-out war? Will we see mailers and ads on television?

CHRIS WAHL: I can tell you this is a very important issue to the ship yards and we are committed to getting the votes of the voters and letting them know that they need to vote on now on propositions B and C if they want to protect the shipyards and billions of dollars of economy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Diane Takvorian and Chris Wahl, thank you both very much.