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San Diego Voters Reject Barrio Logan Community Plan

Aired 6/4/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Jerry Sanders, CEO & President, SD Regional Chamber of Commerce

David Alvarez, Councilman, City of San Diego, District 8



Aired 6/4/14

San Diego voters soundly rejected two measures Tuesday that would have rezoned Barrio Logan to separate houses from industry.

San Diego voters soundly rejected two measures Tuesday that would have rezoned Barrio Logan to separate houses from industry.

Had Propositions B and C passed, they would have turned a City Council-approved zoning plan into law. But 58 percent of voters are cast "no" votes on Proposition B, and 60 percent voted "no" on Proposition C.

Proposition B asked voters to approve the City Council’s resolution approving the plan. Proposition C asked voters to approve council-passed ordinances that would have modified zoning codes and permitted requirements to implement the plan.

Voters Pass Props. A, E and H

San Diegans supported Proposition A, the first of what is likely to be a several years-long series of proposed revisions to the City Charter.

The ballot measure will, among other things, set the city's inauguration day for Dec. 10, or the first Monday following if that date lands on a weekend.

Approval of Proposition A will also change the City Charter to allow more time between a special election and a subsequent runoff.

Proposition E, a $29 million construction bond for the Coronado Unified School District that required a 55 percent "yes'' vote to approve, passed comfortably, while almost nine out of 10 East County voters favored Proposition H, which said Grossmont Hospital should retain its affiliation with Sharp Healthcare.

"The rest of the city didn’t support Barrio Logan to have a healthier community, a healthier future for the children," said Georgette Gómez, associate director of the Environmental Health Coalition, a major backer of the plan.

"But we’re strong, stronger than we were before, and we’re going to continue fighting for a better future for this community,” Gómez said.

Campaigning on the measures was marked by accusations from both sides that the other lied about the potential effects of the rezoning plan.

Barrio Logan is a low-income, mostly Latino neighborhood on San Diego Bay that has long been the center of the ship-building industry. Last year, the City Council passed a zoning plan that would separate industry and residences by creating a "buffer zone" between them. No new industries would be allowed to move into the buffer zone.

Following the council vote, the ship-building industry and its political allies gathered the signatures necessary to get the rezoning plan on the ballot. The petition campaign was officially proposed by five retired Navy rear admirals, who called the rezoning plan "a dangerous first step toward elimination of San Diego's shipyards."

Former San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, now head of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, was upbeat about the early returns. An opponent of Props. B and C, Sanders said it was appropriate for the entire city to vote on a community plan for Barrio Logan.

"It's not a small neighborhood issue," he said. "It decides the future of the U.S. Navy in San Diego. It decides the future of ship building in San Diego."

But San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez, a supporter of Props. B and C, said the election results so far are the result of a well-funded campaign from San Diego's business establishment.

"What we saw tonight, unfortunately, is the power of money in politics," said Alvarez, who appears to be headed to an easy re-election in tonight's primary.

The failure of the two measures would likely mean stakeholders will return to the bargaining table to negotiate a new update to Barrio Logan’s community plan. The last time that community plan was updated was in 1978.

Derry Pence, president of the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association, which opposed Prop B and C, said he thinks the two sides can come up with an alternative community plan.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work with the mayor and residents to formulate a plan that's good for the Barrio and good for industry," Pence said.

Opponents of the rezoning plan have included the Chamber of Commerce and the Logan Avenue Business Association. Mayor Kevin Faulconer voted against the plan last year when he was on City Council.

The contentious process of disentangling industry and housing in Barrio Logan has been debated for years. Residents and environmental groups have blamed the ship-building industry and Interstate 5, which bisects the neighborhood, for pollution and health problems.

Barrio Logan has one of the highest rates of asthma-related hospitalizations in the state.

San Diego began the process of updating the community plan in 2008, and stakeholders finally reached agreements on most of it last year. But negotiations broke down over the buffer zone, a strip of land that environmentalists and community activists wanted between heavy industry and housing.

Under the plan, the area, which encompasses several blocks between Harbor Drive and Main Street, would have been designated “for community commercial” uses. New industrial businesses wanting to open in the area would have needed a special permit.

Supporters of the rezoning plan have accused opponents of misleading the public by claiming the plan would have a very negative effect on industry. Supporters say the plan would not have eliminated any jobs. Early in the campaign, signature gatherers told people the rezoning plan would eliminate thousands of jobs.

Since then, opponents of the plan have said it would leave the ship building industry no room to expand.

KPBS's Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane, Marissa Cabrera and Amita Sharma contributed to the Midday and Evening Edition segments of this story.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | June 4, 2014 at 7:02 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

so now the City Council will find a way to retaliate to appease their corporate donors.

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Avatar for user 'rleif'

rleif | June 4, 2014 at 7:42 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

This whole unfortunate, wasteful process could have been avoided had the planner permitted CalEPA to be called in to investigate the charge of air pollution made against the defense contractors. According to CalEPA the pollution came from the diesel trucks. CalEPA's measurements showed that the level of particulate and ozone pollution was on the average higher in some other areas than that in Barrio Logan. A science reporter should have been assigned to this subject. Instead, in many cases, we have had the equivalent of a global-warming denier. We should solve our air pollution problem by accelerating the retrofitting of the trucks.

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Avatar for user 'socalrealitycheck'

socalrealitycheck | June 4, 2014 at 8:27 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

5000 people, the vast majority moving there KNOWING the industry was there, can not be allowed to force a huge industry to move just because they now don't like it. Tough, move it you don't like it!
what? cant afford to live anywhere but in the low-rent homes in Logan Heights? why do you think the rent is so low?

The same thing goes for people who move in next to airports., noisy sports venues and concert halls.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | June 4, 2014 at 8:45 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm pretty sure that most of San Diego's voters would approve the City Council Plan and Ordinances to create the retail commercial buffer zone between heavy industries and residential areas of the Barrio, but there was voter confusion about what a Yes or No vote meant. I blame the loss of this on KPBS and other broadcast media that failed to inform the pubic of what the proposition meant, and which vote would support the people of San Diego.

There are two industries doing battle in Barrio Logan, Land Developers and Ship-Builders.

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Avatar for user 'mycin'

mycin | June 4, 2014 at 9:33 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

How do you think the vote would have gone if this was La Jolla and this were a proposal for new high-rise hotels along the coast? Considering that tourism is a regional industry and we need the jobs.

Do you think the wise-citizens of San Diego would have voted against the community and the long-developed community plan?

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Avatar for user 'markavelli'

markavelli | June 4, 2014 at 9:38 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

This isn't over yet. They will put this to vote 6 more times. Next time they will lie and exaggerate everything as much as possible. The majority of people are fools and believe anything they read, especially if it concerns "saving the planet".
This is just the beginning.....

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Avatar for user 'deprotinator'

deprotinator | June 4, 2014 at 10:22 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

To correct the comment from "socialrealitycheck", the community plan (and the yes votes) will not "force a huge industry to move." This is the type of misleading information that the opponents were hoping for when they hired all those signature gatherers and lied about the proposition in order to get it on the ballot.

The community plan was actually a very reasonable compromise where the industry doesn't have to move at all and everyone who's currently there can continue doing whatever they've been doing. Even when someone new comes and takes over an old business or old building, they can keep doing that too. The buffer zone would only phase in when a business has closed up shop for several years without any new takers. Even then, any potential new owner could apply for a city permit.

So in summary, no one has to move, no one has to close, no jobs will be lost. The rules could only take effect once the business decides to close up shop on their own. But the opponents were pretty slick in their marketing efforts weren't they...

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 4, 2014 at 10:43 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Big business interests bullied themselves into another local neighborhood and bought a ticket to develop with heavy industry and little regulation.

This is a loss for anyone who cares about public health and welfare and the right of people in their own neighborhood to shape it.

I'm disgusted by this.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 4, 2014 at 11 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Voter turnout was extremely low, and this favors typically older wealthy white voters in North County.

Do you think they really give a rat's tailend about barrio logan?

This could have been a vote to have the health department round-up all vermin in the entire city and dump them all in this area of town and it would have probably passed.

Let's put a vote out to raise a big polluting factory in an upscale residential neighborhood, then you would see Faulconer, Sanders, the Lincoln Club et al change their tune real fast.

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Avatar for user 'TheTRrev'

TheTRrev | June 4, 2014 at 1 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like sour grapes from Alvarez. He lost the mayoral election some months ago and had a majority of his campaign funds from unspecified out-of-state donors. And now he's complaining about corporate outside interests...please. Go away alvarez back into obscurity where you belong

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 4, 2014 at 1:22 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago


Mr. Alvarez just won - but a huge margin - another term on the council.

He is not going away, nor should he. He is one of the few honest and upfront politicans we have in this town.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 4, 2014 at 3:57 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago


First you say you are "disgusted" with the vote on B and C and blame it on low turnout favoring "older wealthy white voters".

But then you praise Alvarez's victory "by a huge margin".

If your first statement is correct, shouldn't Alvarez have lost?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 4, 2014 at 5:15 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

I am disgusted with the vote on B and C because I think neighborhood residents should have a say in their community, this vote went out city-wide. Most people who voted don't live in barrio logan and were probably unfamiliar with the issue period, they just checked the box their robo-call, tv ad, or leaflet told them to.

Alvarez's vote was not city-wide, it was confined to his distric where he is very popular. I don't live in his district, so I couldn't vote for him. The reason I pointed out Alvarez wond by a huge margin is because the poster to whom I was referring said he should just "go away" and I was pointing out he is not "going away".

I think the more people who turn-out the better, and Alvarez is so popular in his district he probably would have won by even a greater percentage had turnout been higher.

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Avatar for user 'datadriven'

datadriven | June 5, 2014 at 7 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

If we check with the San Diego Air Pollution District and the CA Air Resources Board the heavy industry in the Barrio meets or comes in lower than the permit limits allow. The scientists hired by the city pin the unmitigated pollution clearly on the vehicular traffic. Industry asked for two thing in the process that no sensitive receptors (i.e housing, schools, hospitals) be zoned within 1,000' off Harbor drive which aligns with the City's General Plan and Environmentalists recommendations and for non-emitting, non-manufacturing supply businesses to be permitted by right in that buffer zone. It was a 2 x 5 block request. The City, at Alvarez's request agreed to no housing in the area but not to the schools and hospitals part. But the City wouldn't budge on the non-emitting business permit by right part. If the City had agreed to these two things they would have gotten 97% of the Barrio Plan they wanted and industry could keep thier suppliers close. Don't believe me, all of this is a matter of public record, please go read the city council meeting minutes and the environmental impact report to verify.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | June 5, 2014 at 7:27 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

P3E3 "I blame the loss of this on KPBS and other broadcast media that failed to inform the pubic of what the proposition meant, and which vote would support the people of San Diego."

I'm curious why you place blame on the news reports rather than on the voters who failed to research the positions they voted for.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | June 5, 2014 at 7:35 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

What would it cost to buy out the residents of barrio Logan? What would happen if the area were an industrial zone all the way to the 5 and we used the freeway as a noise and pollution separator?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 5, 2014 at 12:22 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago


City planning is a city issue especially when it impacts a major industry.

If the residents of Barrio Logan disagree with the outcome, perhaps they should consider becoming their own city. The entire 8th District could secede and then easily elect Alvarez as mayor and not be bothered by San Diego voters anymore.

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