Earlier in the day, Councilman David Alvarez had filled the prescription for his asthma inhaler. From the City Council dais, he blamed the ailment on the environmental conditions in Barrio Logan, where he grew up next to a metal plating facility.

He and his Democratic colleagues had just voted, they said, to finally separate homes from industrial facilities in Barrio Logan. Supporters of the new community plan embraced one other, celebrating through tears the culmination of a decades-long fight to change the types of development allowed in the community.

That was nine months ago. At the time, the shipbuilding industry that opposed the plan had already started talking about overturning it at the ballot box.

And that’s just what happened Tuesday night. City voters weighed in after a signature-gathering effort forced the issue onto the ballot, and Barrio Logan’s new community plan was thrown out. It’s back to the status quo for the community.


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Now that the results are in – a conclusive decision from the first set of ballot returns – there’s no clear next step in the process of giving the neighborhood a reasonable chance to pass a new plan.

The basic dynamics between the two sides are unchanged.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer was a vocal critic of the plan that got tossed. He stood with the shipbuilding industry that fought to overturn it throughout recent months.

City staff won’t come forward with a plan Faulconer doesn’t support, because city staff works for him. He’ll also be the one to fund any staff time to put together a new plan, if he chooses.

But anything the city puts forward still needs five votes from the City Council, and Alvarez said his Democratic colleagues are unwilling to budge from their insistence on a plan that creates a firm buffer along Harbor Drive to separate homes from the shipyards.

And if the Council wanted to vote on the same plan that just got shot down, rules mandate that it would need to wait at least a year.

Alvarez said the Council will only support a plan that has the community’s support. That means the alternative plan favored by the shipyards – and Faulconer – is off the table.

“It doesn’t have the support of Barrio Logan, and it is supposed to be a plan for Barrio Logan,” he said. “You can’t just impose your will on them as it’s been for the last three to four decades. That’s why the community is in the shape that it’s in.”

Diane Takvorian, executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition, said there’s no chance her group would ever support the shipyards’ alternative, either.

That plan allows industrial companies to open in the area where they’re trying to build a buffer between the shipyard and the community.

“The basic premise is they need to be separated, homes and industry,” she said. “If you don’t do that, then there’s no need for a new plan, because that’s what we have now.”

And that’s basically the untenable situation the community’s in: The two sides have been reduced to one major item, and it isn’t one that can be split down the middle to give everyone 50 percent of what they want.

You either allow industrial businesses to open in the area north of Harbor Drive, or you don’t.

“If someone is OK with homes being next to industry, then they should just come out and say it,” Alvarez said. “It’s not OK anywhere else, and it shouldn’t be OK in Barrio Logan.”

Faulconer said it’s important to bring a new plan forward soon, but wouldn’t say what the plan might look like or whether there’d be new funding to allow staff to put one together.

“We’re closer to agreement than folks might think,” he said.

Supporters of the plan clearly don’t agree. They’ve reached a point where their one non-negotiable item is the one most desired by their opponents.

It begs the question: Would they prefer waiting for a solution until after November 2016, when there’s a better climate to elect a mayor more likely to support their basic criteria?

“I don’t know,” Takvorian said. “It’s a good question.”

“The mayor can hold up anything he wants, and he can bring up anything he wants,” Alvarez said. “I just hope he supports Barrio Logan and gives them a path forward. I’ll never say outright no to anything, except the one issue, which is no industrial next to homes. That’s not going to be an option for Barrio Logan anymore.”

    This article relates to: Barrio Logan, City Council, Community Plans, Growth and Housing, Land Use, Neighborhood Growth, News, Share

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

    52 comments
    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger subscribermember

    I'm not sure the exact numbers of workers.  The 6,000 number just covers the full time employees of the big 3 at the shipyard, not including the contractors, the sub-contractors, the navy support, the other suppliers and support companies that rely on the industrial area.  Also not including the workers of the other big industrial companies like Contential and CP Kelco.  

    My point being that in a community or neighborhood plan workers and businesses should count too and that, at this time, workers outnumber residents.  


    The vote to adopt the plan was 16 - 6.  Residents and community activists 16,  businesses and workers 6.  

    Looks like more work to be done to craft a better plan.  I wish them well.  


    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    EVERYONE lives where they want to live, because -- unlike the 1800s, excellent transportation exists to take one across country in less than six hours. I bought my first home in San Diego in 1959, but by 1972 felt crowded and moved to Poway. In 1994, I again moved north of Escondido because the traffic bothered me in North Poway.

    We do not live in the West Virginia of the 1800s where you live, work and die in a 30 mile radius, just as your father did and as will your son. The greatest change in the last several hundred years is MOBILITY!

    James Weber
    James Weber subscriber

    @Desde la Logan San Diego is one of the most expensive cities in the country.  It is cheaper to live elsewhere.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    Please tell me where it is written into law that we must continue to live in the geography in which we live? If living in San Diego is an economic burden, there are literally thousands of other communities, and no I won't give you my bootstrap story but suffice to say my family never owned a car or a telephone.

    Moving within San DiegoCounty may not be a viable option, but MOVING certainly is an option for EVERYONE!

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Indeed, there seems to be a nettlesome economic element that interferes with this, "everyone lives where they want to," theory.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Hemphill: Since "everyone lives were they want to," I propose that we suggest to the people of Barrio Logan that they all move to La Jolla. No heavy industry there.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Chris Brewster I think they would prefer to eat. Therefore, the people of Barrio Logan prefer living in Barrio Logan to living in La Jolla, otherwise they would be living in La Jolla.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Then by all means, they should choose it.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Jones: I understand your theories.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Ms. Sorrell: I think you are asking if I support NAFTA? I don't. I think it was a serious error.

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    Unless you're living on minimum wage, which is what many, if not most, residents of Barrio Logan live on. It ain't cheap to be mobile. Unless the mobility you mean is living on the streets.

    Nancy Witt
    Nancy Witt subscribermember

    @Jim Jones @Richard Ross Sure do get tired of your general comments about the rich and poor.  It's all cliches and gets tiresome.

    Richard Ross
    Richard Ross subscribermember

    Oh... Jim Jones you mean the general public has the choice of being a Corporate CEO earning millions of dollars a year?

    Richard Ross
    Richard Ross subscribermember

    Jim Jones it is just that your comments typically sound like you are one of the 1%ers that diesn't want to get stepped on.

    Mike
    Mike subscriber

    So out of curiosity, I searched the internet for voter registration numbers in District 8 (includes Barrio Logan and the border).  I found this from the city's website:

    http://www.sandiego.gov/city-clerk/elections/city/   (click on PDF)


    The election results for city council members were also listed here on the county's website:

      http://www.sdvote.us/NewPickRace.asp


    What this shows is that in this district, 6,536 total voters came out to vote for their candidate out of a total of 54,410 registered voters in that district.  Only District 8 voters are allowed to vote for their council member.  So the turnout, it seems, would be an accurate picture of the district's voter turnout.  Assuming these same voters also voted for Props B & C...

    I'm not a voting expert, so maybe VOSD can look into this, but this is not a good turnout rate.  Only 12%!!!   If this is wrong, please correct me on what happened in District 8.  I would love to know.  If 12% is really true though, well...  Maybe the voters in that district can reflect on their own inaction besides pointing fingers at the rest of the city.

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger subscribermember

    Communities are made up of residents, businesses and people who work there.  

    Any plan should satisify all.  This is the challage before the Barrio Logan planning group.  The businesses in Barrio Logan represent appx 40,000 jobs (people).   The residents represent less than 4,000 people.  Any process where the minority create rules to govern the majority generally does not work out well.    

    I believe that unless and untill a planning process includes representives of the  workers, businesses as well as the residents, and give approiate consideration to each,  they will remain at a stalemate.  

    jrubin81
    jrubin81 subscriber

    @Glenn Younger From what I understand, the community plan was inclusive of both resident and industry interests.  The changes would have been gradual (over 10-15 years), would not impact existing business as it currently operates, and there was no proof that any jobs would be impacted.  The Navy even clearly stated that it had no plans to move out of San Diego, and would not support the plan one way or another.  Also, as reported by this outlet, I believe the shipyards only employ about 6,200 people, not including ancillary services.


    What really happened here, and across San Diego, is that money won out.  Whoever spent the most, won.

    Robert Leif
    Robert Leif subscribermember

     It is time that decisions were based on facts not politics. The CalEPA says that the air pollution comes from the diesel trucks. If Council-member Alvarez really wants to do something to eliminate these toxins from our air, he can initiate legislation based on that of Los Angles to accelerate the conversion to low emission diesel engines and filters. I would recommend encouraging the inclusion of hybrid technology, which will further reduce emissions and provide a return on investment for the owners. Are the pollution controls of the Port of San Diego as stringent as those of Long beach?

    The Voice of San Diego should obtain an assessment of the toxins in the air and their sources from the Air Control Board of the State of California. So far, the Environmental Health Coalition and their allies have behaved like the climate change disbelievers. Parenthetically, I have been trying to talk the particle analyzer companies into creating new products that will provide improved identification of particle sources.

    Unfortunately, the business community has been alienated by this whole procedure. One highly probable bad result of these proceedings will be a decrease in middle class income producing jobs at the shipyards and associated industries. These are the jobs that are needed by many of the people who live in Barrio Logan to achieve social-mobility. Unfortunately, jobs were not a priority of Mr. Alvarez and his associates. I had to suggest the need for apprenticeships to some of the businessmen.  I highly respect individuals like John Alvarado for their efforts to improve the lives of the people of Barrio Logan. I believe that a good part of the blame for this debacle should be attached to the Planning Department, which is overly biased to the construction of affordable housing projects, which are charity for the developers. The planner refused to call in CalEPA after a charge of pollution had been made. The management of the Stakeholders meetings required leadership that worked on developing a win-win solution instead of beating-up upon the property holders.

    Robert Leif
    Robert Leif subscribermember

    @Muriel @Robert Leif The present values for 2.5 micron and smaller particles at San Diego-1110 Beardsley Street 12 μg/m³ is Good and for Ozone at San Diego-1110 Beardsley Street Ozone 50 ppb is Good.  While I composed this note, the particulate level has increased to 14 μg/m³, which is Moderate.


    These presently legally acceptable values have probably occurred because of the CalEPA retrofit program. As far as I know, there is no definitive minimum threshold for both of these toxic agents. Barrio Logan has had worse days. My argument has been that the levels of these toxins in the Barrio were not higher than in other areas of San Diego County. Please visit http://breathewell.arb.ca.gov/byCity.aspx?city=San%20Diego.

    I will admit that the potential loss of the Navy and other industries and my working on cancer detection for about 50 years induces me to probably be overly careful.


    I should add that a free-enterprise economy is not a reason to permit individuals or organizations to pollute or degrade the commons. I believe that some of the cost of the upgrading of the diesel engine and particle filter could be offset by the fuel savings associated with conversion of the trucks to being a hybrid. Trucks as opposed to most automobiles have room for batteries.

    Muriel
    Muriel subscriber

    @Robert Leif  The CalEPA findings are based on biased environmental activist agenda driven report from UCLA that was disproved by one of their own researchers. Los Angeles has driven middle class jobs out of their port because of their heavy-handed activism.

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    I will do whatever necessary to be part of any stakeholders meetings that determines any new Barrio Logan community plan. Because the shipyards have treated Barrio Logan residents with disdain throughout this entire process I look forward to negotiating an even stricter community plan in regards to maritime industry pollution. If they didn't like the first one they're sure not gonna like the second one. The residents of Barrio Logan can wait out Faulcer's and the shipyards. We ain't going anywhere and we're mad.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    @Desde la Logan Good luck with that.  Why was the voter turnout so poor for that area, if so many people are so angry?  A posting from someone else on the board indicated very low voter turnout, and I have my doubts about how many people pay attention to what planning boards do.

    Jim Neri
    Jim Neri subscribermember

    Sounds like an urban design challenge to me and I believe San Diego is up to it.

    danwroy
    danwroy subscriber

    @Chris Brewster It was rhetoric the night of the election, but it seems like the kind of promise that would hang heavy come the next election, so maybe he means it. The terms are what matter. Paying close attention to Alvarez and Gloria is probably key right now. Alvarez conceded on the Linkage Fee, on the promise that another deal would be worked out; if he's optimistic here than maybe you can expect Faulconer to follow through.

    Mike
    Mike subscriber

    Really guys?  So if modern science (not from 1951, Allen) concluded that nuclear radiation leaks are bad, then we should still continue to keep running San Onofre because it's good for jobs and taxes?  We just tell the people in the surrounding 200 miles, "too bad, you had it coming. you can sell your worthless house and move if you don't like it."  Does that sound reasonable to any of you?


    Besides, the community plan was a compromise that allowed all current activities to go on for the local businesses.  The buffer zone rules would only take effect if a business chooses to close up shop by itself for an extended period of time.  The community plan never told anyone to move or to stop operating.  Those were the mis-information the opponents spread to get this proposition on the ballots in the first place.  No jobs were going to be lost.  I guess the voting portion of this city (a shamefully small contingent albeit) bought into all this mis-information.


    The so called costs and benefits are also not as simple as Derek puts it.  Property taxes from increased home values in Barrio Logan contributes to all of San Diego.  New business opportunities in the buffer zone also brings in more revenue.  Reduced healthcare costs reduces the cost burden on the whole city/state.  Many of the low income residents there depend on city/state aid for health coverage.  Many don't have insurance at all, but no one is ever turned away at the ER.  So all those costs could potentially reduce.  For the next 20-50 years, the real costs and benefits of this proposition is way more complicated than just losing shipbuilder revenue which isn't definitive either.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Mike "New business opportunities in the buffer zone also brings in more revenue."

    It seems counterintuitive that allowing only commercial developers to bid on the land in the buffer zone would increase its value more than allowing shipbuilders to join the auction. Could you explain your theory in a little more depth?

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Barrio Logan is forced to share the tax revenue from the shipbuilding industry with the rest of San Diego, so the potential benefit of the new community plan outweighed the cost to them, while the rest of San Diego saw no benefit and only a cost. So it's an example of two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner, and as usual, the wolves won.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    The shipyards were there first!

    Homes surround Miramar, also, and I guess the new arrivals on the block complain, but I helped restore the old WWII camp there as a Boot back in 1951, and the airfield was there long before homes in North County, and Barrio Logan can just live with the shipyards.

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    What selective memory San Diegans have! The shipyards were not there first. My community has been here long before the shipyards were built. Many families have been here for over 100 years.

    Muriel
    Muriel subscriber

    @Desde la Logan Then why don't they move? My family has lived in San Diego for over 80 years through all the changes of modern society and they move if they no longer like the neighborhood.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    No, I was remarking on moving into neighborhoods with known undesirable characteristics -- but feel free to deed your home to a local tribe.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    Families lived there before, but there was no "community" per se...just individual homes.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Desde la Logan I don't think it's sensible to expect industry to "stop polluting." The best it can do is reduce the amount it pollutes near residences, which only lessens the problem, it doesn't solve it. How does Barrio Logan plan to solve the problem of negative externalities?

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    Why should we have to move away? The sensible thing to do would be for industry to stop polluting, create a buffer zone (which they had agreed to) and lessen the hazardous stuff next to residences.

    -P
    -P subscriber

    @Allen Hemphill Huh? Who ever said anybody didn't have that choice, even if the choice is limited to working at one of those places or being unemployed?

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    Houses can be ANYWHERE, but shipyards MUST have deep water access.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    No, and increasing a Minimum Wage to $100 an hour would never include the phrase "to put businesses out of business " but that would be the result, anyway.

    Keep increasing the rules and regulation, increase the cost, increase the problems and at some point business will move, or expand elsewhere.

    If you lived here a long time, perhaps you remember the Tuna Fleet? The concept of Static Analysis is disproven by Dynamic Analysis everywhere, and constantly.

    -P
    -P subscriber

    @Allen Hemphill A major, probably the major reason the tuna industry collapsed was competition from overseas, such as Japan. Yes, there were environmental regulations that added to that, but there was a lot of market pressure to adopt so called "dolphin free" methods, not to mention public pressure  to write those laws.

    I haven't seen anybody publicly applying any Dynamic Analysis to the Barrio Logan situation, but I have seen lots of scare tactics, from both sides.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    Choice! Everyone makes a choice to work or shop at COSTCO, or WalMart.

    I love choice. Do you?

    -P
    -P subscriber

    @Jim Jones Exactly correct Jim. Perhaps what to take out of it is that paying people well does not inherently hurt profits or the value of the stock. Just in terms of salaries and wages, Apple apparently does pay about 10% above the market (maybe they have to because they treat people so badly)

    -P
    -P subscriber

    @Jim Jones @-P "...  if everything else remains the same. " That's the rub.

    So in this case, it makes sense to look at what's different. It could be a lot of different things, including the experience levels of their staff. WalMart does seem to have more diverse stuff than CostCo, more brand selection, etc., so what they have on the shelves doesn't seem to be it. 

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Hemphill: I think everyone would like to have the economic resources to live in areas that don't border heavy industry. People don't normally live by the railroad tracks because they like the sound of trains.

    -P
    -P subscriber

    @Allen Hemphill The community plan never even remotely suggested the shipyards should move.