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Barrio Logan Referendum To Be Ruled On By Judge Next Week

Environmental Health Coalition executive director Diane Takvorian speaks at a...

Photo by Sandhya Dirks

Above: Environmental Health Coalition executive director Diane Takvorian speaks at a press conference announcing the lawsuit outside of the San Diego Hall of Justice.

The fate of a citywide referendum over the hotly contested Barrio Logan community plan is now in the hands of a San Diego Superior Court judge.

Barrio Logan’s new community plan was approved by the San Diego City Council in September after five years of community stakeholder meetings. But that wasn’t the end of the drama surrounding the first zoning plan for the largely low-income Latino neighborhood squeezed between Interstate 5 and the ports.

The community saw the plan as a win: a compromise with business interests that also protected residents from living next to industrial waste. But maritime industry leaders say the new zoning — which would require new ship supply businesses to get a permit before setting up shop — would end up killing jobs. So they started a signature-gathering campaign, trying to overturn the plan in a citywide vote.

But there was a problem: many people reported incidents that signature collectors were misinforming voters about the plan. That’s illegal, which is why the Environmental Health Coalition is seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the referendum from ever reaching the ballot.

After two separate days of hearings on the case, Superior Court Judge Jeffery Barton has said he will rule early next week on whether the referendum can proceed.

In order to win the suit, the EHC will have to prove that was a systemic campaign to mislead and lie to voters in order to get their signatures. The maritime industry said that their paid signature gatherers were well informed on the details of the plan.

If Barton does not grant the restraining order, the city council will have to decide whether to put the plan on a ballot, an expensive prospect. The other option would be for the council to overturn the plan and go back to the drawing board.

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