San Diego City Council unanimously passes Barrio Logan plan update
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Residents of Barrio. Logan are hoping that a newly minted community plan will help address long-standing issues that have plagued the area for decades issues like toxic air pollution and gentrification, the new framework, which the San Diego city council approved last week aims to ensure growth without displacement. It also includes new parks and an attempt to shield residents from the harmful effects of living so close to polluting industries. Joining me now is Julie Corrales, a policy advocate for the environmental health coalition, which helped to work on the new plan. Julie, welcome to the program. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (00:36)
Happy to be here.
Speaker 1: (00:37)
This plan was so many years in the making. Why has it taken so long to approve an update to the Barrio Logan community plan?
Speaker 2: (00:45)
Back in 2008, the process began community got very involved. There was over 50 meetings, uh, five year long process, and a plan was actually approved by the city council. However, industry along the port, wasn't happy with portions of it and they launched a, uh, ballot initiative to overturn it. Unfortunately it was successful and making Barrio Logan, the only community in San Diego to have had the entire city of pine on its plan. It was successful, although it wasn't entirely accurate or truthful campaign, it was successful. And the plan was
Speaker 1: (01:20)
Overturned. Well, the residents of, of Barrio Logan and the ship building industry that exists along the port there actually started talking and came to an agreement somewhat. Can you describe what changed in this plan that led that ship building industry and the, and the other industries along the coast there to go along with this plan update, it's an
Speaker 2: (01:39)
Interesting story. The residents of Barrio Logan have con to press for a plan, an updated plan that protects our health, but recently our city council and, and our former mayor began to entertain the idea, but required that the ship building industry and community members and environmental justice advocates come to some sort of agreement that guaranteed, uh, to the city that the process wouldn't and again, in a referendum. So representatives of all three parties came to the table. And after about a year of meetings, uh, signed a memorandum of understanding that kind of outlined the uses in what we're calling the transitions on, which was the area of contention in the 2013 plan. And honestly, there weren't too many changes. If anything, the transition zone is stronger. I think all folks at the table realized that not having a plan in place was detrimental to everyone in the community, including industry. And that understanding led to the memorandum of understanding and the plan that came before. Council,
Speaker 1: (02:40)
How have residents been reacting to the approval of this plan update? So far? There's
Speaker 2: (02:44)
Been a lot of celebration when it passed at the planning group meeting, when the planning group approved it and sent it off to council, there was celebrations and there was tears even. And when it came before city council, there was more of that folks were a little sad to not be able to be there in person. Um, and some of the restrictions with the pandemic didn't allow us to be together and celebrate, um, at city hall the way we would've, uh, had times been different, but we were together. We were excited. Uh, there were tears, there were lots of praise. And, and just being together when
Speaker 1: (03:18)
Talking about out community plan updates in other neighborhoods, the hottest debate is often around housing and density. How does the new plan for Barrio Logan address those issues and the threat of gentrification
Speaker 2: (03:30)
Barrio? Logan has same, the same concerns. We have areas that are older specifically around Boston avenue that didn't wanna see a lot of debt, but for the most part, I think our communities are a little different. Um, in that sense where we don't mind the density, we just want density for us. We want the ability to keep living here and for our children to live here and our neighbors to stay the plan. Uh, the bar lo community plan does increase densities and areas closer to downtown. It rezoned an entire area that was previously, uh, industrial for higher density housing. But what we did is we were able to increase the percentage of affordable units required a new development. So citywide 10% of units have to be affordable de restricted, um, in bar Logan. Now it has to be 15. And another important part of that is that in bar Logan developers are not allowed to pay the what's called the in lieu of fee, a fee that allows you to get out of building the units, which is usually a lot less than it would cost to build them in bar Logan developers can't do that.
Speaker 2: (04:39)
They have to units within the
Speaker 1: (04:41)
Planning area. Now this updated plan also proposes the, uh, creation of some new parks and environmentally friendly community spaces. Can you tell us what those will look like?
Speaker 2: (04:51)
Oh, we're so excited about the greening efforts in Barrio. We identified different, uh, locations for pocket parks. We're especially excited about the park on Boston avenue. It will take a large swath about three blocks of, uh, Caltrans right away, underutilized and, and create a beautiful park space for communities. We are park deficient. We only have 7% tree canopy in our neighborhood and we're at high risk of urban heat island. So I, these opportunities for green space will go a long way in protecting our future.
Speaker 1: (05:26)
There's been a long history of environmental racism committed by both the local and the state government against the residents of Barrio Logan. This goes all the way back to the construction of the I five freeway through there. Can you tell us just a bit about that history?
Speaker 2: (05:41)
Sure. You know, we say it goes beyond that, right. Goes back to Redlin to the thirties when Logan Heights and BARR, Logan were red line, it goes back to a time before community planning, uh, when the powers that be at the time decided that BARR, Logan and Logan Heights is where all the industry in San Diego should go right away from more affluent and wider neighborhoods. Um, and, and in places where brown and black and indigenous people lived. Um, and at the time it was seen as, as acceptable, right? The, uh, bipo people of the city would bear the brunt of, uh, the entire cities industry. Um, and that continued up until really this plan, the passing of this plan, um, up until this plan, you could put a auto shop right next to a child's bedroom window. Um, and it really was a remnant of, you know, historical racist land use policy that didn't value the lives of, of black and brown folks. So, um, it's another reason that this, this plan is, is huge for us and really marks the donning of anywhere.
Speaker 1: (06:42)
Lastly, Julie, there's a nascent campaign to put a cap over a section of the I five freeway that would reunite Barrio Logan with Logan Heights. Can you tell us about that? So
Speaker 2: (06:51)
EHT we've been on the peripheral of it. It's, it's really driven by a former council member, David Alvarez, and we're excited about it. Uh, you know, I think it, it, it, it points to, um, institutional, um, and governmental agencies realizing the damage they've done to our communities and trying to make amends for it. I think Logan Heights and bar Logan are a perfect place to, to begin, uh, to make for some of that damage, putting a cap over the freeway and reuniting the communities, which to this date feel like one and act like one and, and, um, live as one community, uh, will go a long way to rectify some of those injustices. We can get back green space on these lids. We can add housing, affordable housing on these lids. I think it's it's time to do so. And I think it's the right thing to do
Speaker 1: (07:42)
Big changes coming to bar you Logan, at least let's hope. So I've been speaking with Julie Corrales, a policy advocate for the environmental health coalition, Julie, thank you.
Speaker 2: (07:51)
Speaker 3: (07:59)
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.”
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.
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.
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.