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San Diego Voters Reject Barrio Logan Community Plan

GUESTS:

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

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

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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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