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San Diego Voters Weigh Barrio Logan Zoning In Propositions B, C

A Chicano Park mural underneath the Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan.

Photo by Angela Carone

Above: A Chicano Park mural underneath the Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan.

Aired 5/6/14 on KPBS News.

San Diegans can cast ballots to uphold or undo the City Council's update of Barrio Logan's community plan in the June 3 primary.

San Diego voters begin casting ballots by mail this week. One thing they'll be weighing in on is Barrio Logan's community plan update.

Two San Diego propositions, B and C, on the June 3 ballot have to do with changes to zoning in the Barrio Logan neighborhood. All San Diego residents, whether they live in Barrio Logan or not, can cast votes on the issue.

The City Council passed a resolution and two ordinances last year to install a five-block-long commercial buffer zone that separates residential and industrial zones. The plan allows "community and neighborhood commercial uses'' in the buffer area, but no houses, according to a city staff report.

After the council passed the plan update, business groups objected and gathered signatures to get two items on the ballot to overturn both the council resolution and ordinances. Proposition B asks voters to approve the council's resolution. Proposition C asks voters to approve the council's ordinances.

Opponents of the plan update say the council's actions would hurt the nearby shipbuilding industry. Ballot language backed by five retired Navy rear admirals calls the plan "a dangerous first step toward elimination of San Diego's shipyards."

Supporters of the plan update say it will ease health risks for Barrio Logan residents who live near shipbuilding facilities, but retired Navy Rear Adm. Len Hering said the health risks come instead from the nearby Interstate 5.

"The plan has housing within less than 1,000 feet of the highway," Hering said. "Studies clearly show that the environmental issues with health are related to the corridor. If you've identified what the risk is, why would you think that putting housing in that location is the right answer to the problem?"

Supporters of the plan update argue that the biggest health risks to Barrio Logan residents come from shops that mold plastic or paint auto parts, not the freeway.

Hering added that the plan update could leave "at risk billions of dollars of income and thousands of high-paying, good jobs." That's because he said having nearby housing could restrict the hours shipbuilders and ship maintenance facilities are allowed to operate.

"If you put housing in an urbanized community inside that same environment, you will create a caustic environment that will cause conflict," he said. "That conflict will be forever looking at reducing the work necessary to support that 24/7 operation."

City Councilman David Alvarez lives in and represents the Barrio Logan neighborhood. He said the area, which has not had a community plan update in 35 years, has become a "neglected dumping ground" for the rest of the city.

"This tries to correct a wrong that this city for many years allowed to go on, which is bad use of industrial uses next to homes," Alvarez said. "This is an attempt to correct that."

Alvarez argues that these propositions will affect the entire city, not just this one neighborhood.

"If this could happen in Barrio Logan, it can happen to anyone, where a strong, big moneyed interest can go in and collect signatures and overturn a community decision that was done with a lot of community input," he said.

"Really, as we move forward in this city with more plan updates for every single neighborhood, people in all neighborhoods need to understand this could have a future impact on them."

Propositions B and C will be on the June 3 ballot.

This story has been updated to reflect the retired status of the Navy rear admirals opposing the Barrio Logan community plan update.

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Avatar for user 'dtmoj78'

dtmoj78 | May 7, 2014 at 11:51 a.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

Pleased to see support from 5 of the San Diego City Council.

Correction:Todd Gloria's district does NOT contain Barrio Logan. Todd Gloria has district 3, which has East Village but it is not district 8, that belongs to David Alvarez.

Navy RADM (RETIRED) Len Hering is on record (KPBS article May 6) stating I-5 is to blame for the pollution. As a retired officer and professor of ethics, Mr. Hering should be ashamed at trying to dilute fact with politically motivated opinion. Mr. Hering is a member of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, with former Mayor Sanders. Mr. Hering lives in Chula Vista away from the pollution that Barrio Logan residents have to raise their children with. Mr. Hering has now taken his naval legacy and attached it to these misleading scare tactics. Don't take my word for it on a blog, this map is officially sponsored by the California EPA.

The Navy cannot and will not move for several reasons. The biggest reason being the shipyard industrial base cannot be recapitalized elsewhere. Where would 3rd Fleet ships get their work done? The shipyard infrastructure currently exists nowhere else, and the Navy barely has enough CAPACITY as it is. In this time of sequestration, furloughs, cuts our Navy will go from building 7-10 vessels a year to 1-3 depending on how deep the cuts extend. US national debt, goals of the Dept of Defense and needs of the Navy dictate how money will be spent. The SD shipping industry using six RETIRED admirals to sign a petition does NOT make up the official opinion of our Navy. There is not a single person in all of California, much less San Diego, who has the ability to make a statement in that regard.

RADM Hering (ret.) and the 5 other admirals who signed their official opposition (March 14, 2014 with the City Clerk) to this are no longer in the Pentagon loop. That would be RADM (ret.) John T. Lyons III, VADM Peter M. Hekman (ret.), VADM Timothy W. Lafleur (ret.), RADM Francis K. Holian (ret.), and RADM Garland P. Wright (ret.) In their letter of opposition, they make a statement about "EXPANDING middle class jobs"...that is misleading and out of their realm to speak on.

Their Protect Our Jobs Coalition spent $730k on this effort to overturn the original Barrio Logan Plan. Protect Our Jobs Coalition is funded by NASSCO (General Dynamics), BAE, & Continental Marine. BAE is one of the 3 largest contractors in the entire Navy, they are not moving their massive San Diego footprint anywhere. Anyone who tells you different is either misleading you or does not understand business.

How much will this cost the City of San Diego (YOU)?
It will cost between $600k - $1M to redo this ballot. That is $ that could have been spent to clean up the streets, clean up homelessness, you pick the cause and that money is now spent on this election.
Vote YES on props B & C on June 3rd.

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Avatar for user 'mb4design'

mb4design | June 2, 2014 at 7:35 p.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

To me it appears that two different developers have plans and we will fund one or the other in some form. Too bad we have no media in town to guide us in deciphering the issue; just regurgitation of what people on each side have said without fact checking or analysis. It's up to the citizens to translate legalese & navigate the terrible city website for maps to try and understand on their own.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | June 3, 2014 at 1:39 p.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

This is confusing, I still can't figure out which way to vote, or what my vote means?

KPBS could have done a better job of explaining what the vote means.

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Avatar for user 'datadriven'

datadriven | June 3, 2014 at 2:50 p.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

Voting is a challenge on this one with both side claiming more pollution. The RECON Environmental Impact Report summarized the scientific findings on pages 1 and also 82-84. In a nutshell exposure to greenhouse gasses and cancer rates go up under Alternatives 1 and 2 since they both allow more housing hence more sensitive receptors. The report was clear that the only unmitigated contributor was the highway and that is the ARBs responsibility. Basically if passed by a yes vote, props B and C allow more people to get exposed.. regardless of where the pollution comes from. A no vote on both limits the number exposed by not allowing 2000+ new dwellings sandwiched in the area. The real solution is to keep business controlled and permitted by the ARB and APCD and get all vehicles cleaner. Note that under NAFTA all vehicles coming into the US do not have to meet our emissions requirements. The Barrio deserves better but this plan puts more kids and elderly in harms way per the City's env impact report. Read it to confirm what you've read here please.

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