Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local

San Diego City Council unanimously passes Barrio Logan plan update

The City Council approved a new community plan for Barrio Logan today. As KPBS Race and Equity Reporter Cristina Kim tells us it’s an update that’s more than forty years in the making.

Barrio Logan, the heart of San Diego’s Chicano and Latino community, could soon adopt and implement a new community plan. It would be the first update to the community’s growth and development plan in 43 years.

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved the new plan. Councilmembers will review the plan again in January before it is sent to the Coastal Commission some time in 2022.

“This is a great day for the Barrio Logan community,” said Councilmember Vivian Moreno, who represents the neighborhood. “For many years, the residents of Barrio Logan were left behind by the city of San Diego and today marks a new day for this community.”

FGBreE0UYAAx6Ho.jpg
Mayor Todd Gloria's office
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria speaks in Barrio Logan ahead of the vote to update the neighborhood's community plan, Dec. 7, 2021.

Segregated and redlined in the early 20th Century and then carved up by freeways in the 1960s, Barrio Logan residents now suffer from a number of poor health outcomes, including some of the highest rates of asthma in the state.

Long-time residents and community activists say the new plan addresses the racism of the past through anti-displacement measures and an environmental buffer zone, among other things.

“We have to remember that Barrio Logan has been an example of environmental racism,” said Diane Takvorian, the executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Health Coalition, which for decades has advocated with residents for a new community plan. “Now, Barrio Logan stands as a symbol of hope.”

What’s included in the plan?

The extensive Barrio Logan Community Draft Plan covers everything from bike lanes and parks to adding thousands of new housing units in the area.

It is notably the first community plan in the city to include stronger tenant protections and attempt to slow displacement from gentrification, according to Mayor Todd Gloria's office.

The plan's specifics include:

  • A 65-acre swath of land that will serve as a commercial buffer between where people live and the working waterfront. In 2014, this buffer zone was at the heart of a battle between residential and industrial interests that led to a previously-approved plan being repealed by voters.
  • A recommendation to change city housing regulations to ensure that at least the same number of homes removed in Barrio Logan are rebuilt, that tenants forced to relocate for new developments have ample notice and that Barrio Logan residents are given priority for 75% of all newly developed affordable housing.
  • A strengthening of the city’s regulation of condominium conversions by proposing that Barrio Logan tenants receive adequate notice and relocation assistance.
  • A requirement that any new residential or mixed-use development with 10 or more dwelling units include at least 15% affordable housing.
  • Designated truck routes established to discourage diesel trucks from using residential streets that cut through the community to access the marine terminals and freeways.
Barrio Logan transistion zone.jpg
Barrio Logan Community Plan
Image of the proposed "Transition Area," October 2021.

Why did it take so long?

Barrio Logan's many competing interests have repeatedly delayed the community’s ability to update its growth plan.

About half the neighborhood is Port of San Diego or US Navy land and the remaining area is a mix of residential, commercial and industrial zoning. Barrio Logan is also under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission, which is why the plan must be approved by both the City Council and Coastal Commission.

San Diego City Council unanimously passes Barrio Logan plan update
Listen to this story by Cristina Kim.

In 2013, an updated community plan was approved only to be rolled back by a maritime industry-funded referendum in 2014. The setback was seen as a huge blow for residents of the area who had spent five years crafting the plan over the course of 50 community meetings.

Residents and industry groups remained locked in a standstill until 2019 when representatives from the Barrio Logan Planning Group, the Environmental Health Coalition and the shipbuilding and ship repair industry began to work on an agreement.

A memorandum of understanding signed in May 2020 helped finally push the plan forward, said Mark Steele, chair of the Barrio Logan Community Planning Group.

“It created the ability for everyone to succeed,” he said. “Everybody won.”

While the maritime industry opposed the past plan update, this time it appears to be on board.

“We in industry have put forth a lot of effort to make sure that we get to this point,” said Derry Pence, president of the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association. “While the residents are extremely proud of the outcome, so are we.”

The vote on Tuesday is just the first step in a longer process. However, though the plan is far from finalized, Nahomi Sanchez, who grew up and lives in Barrio Logan, said the vote is cause for celebration.

“We deserve this long-overdue justice in our community,” she said.