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Barrio Logan Community Plan May Go To The Ballot Box

Photo caption:

Photo by Sandhya Dirks

Shipyard workers sign a oversize petition calling for a referendum of the Barrio Logan community plan, Oct. 3, 2013.

After five years of public meetings and debate, the San Diego City Council approved a new community plan for Barrio Logan, but now it could be tossed back to the ballot box after a referendum initiative has gathered enough signatures.

The contentious battle for the rezoning of Barrio Logan isn’t over, despite the San Diego City Council's approval of a new community plan. The maritime industry, which had been working with the city and residents, said the final deal could threaten the shipbuilding industry and cost San Diego thousands of jobs. Industry supporters have rallied behind a referendum campaign and been out collecting the necessary signatures.

Maritime interests said already more than enough people have signed the petition to put the plan to a vote and they said they expect to deliver more than 50,000 signatures to the San Diego City Clerk's Office by the Nov. 1 deadline.

If 33,792 of those signatures are valid, the city council will have two options: They can either rescind the plan or put it on a citywide ballot in early June.

Community activists who fought for the plan said the council-approved compromise protected residents, who they said have long suffered health effects from pollution at the port. They also said maritime interests are vastly exaggerating the new plans impact on the shipbuilding industry. They claim that the industry, which is paying for the referendum campaign, has misled people to get the required number of signatures.

The Environmental Health Coalition, which has represented many residents of Barrio Logan, captured footage of two signature gathers explaining the impact of the plan.

In the video, the signature gathers said that the plan would zone the area nearest to the shipyards for residential housing, and that the plan would cause the closure of the shipyards. Neither of those statements are accurate representations.

Industry spokesperson Chris Wahl called the video an isolated incident.

If the plan was passed, it would affect the area closest to the shipyards, creating a so-called buffer zone. That area would be zoned for commercial businesses, but not residential homes. The plan would allow already built businesses that serve the shipyards to remain and to expand up to 20 percent. But the plan would require a conditional use permit, or CUP, for any growth beyond that or for any new business to set up shop.

While the plan does not re-zone the shipyards, the maritime industry has said that by limiting the growth of businesses that supply ship-building, the plan would mark the beginning of the end for shipyard industry, eventually taking with it lucrative Navy contracts and working class jobs.


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