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Chapter Closes on Years-long Fight for Barrio Logan’s Community Plan

Barrio Logan Pollution
Cars and trucks drive down Cesar Chavez Parkway in Barrio Logan / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This post originally appeared in the Dec. 8 Morning Report [1]. Subscribe to the Morning Report here [2].

Barrio Logan residents are no strangers to fighting for their neighborhood.

One fight, though, is finally over, and could, in theory, help address issues that have long plagued the community. The San Diego City Council approved a blueprint [3] Tuesday for the community’s future development. The new plan creates a buffer zone between housing and industry and attempts to blunt gentrification with affordable housing policies.

The community has been pushing for an update to its 1978 plan for decades [4]. But an attempt to redo it in 2013 was taken from the community with an unprecedented citywide referendum the following year — an effort led by the shipbuilding industry [5]. Years later, planners, environmental advocates and a shipbuilding representative hashed out proposed guidelines that would work with all parties and allow the community to move forward with a plan.

Now, it’s here and might even be more ambitious than what passed in 2013.

The new plan, like the previous effort, creates a buffer zone between heavy industrial uses and homes by prohibiting residential development along Harbor Drive or Main Street. It’s meant to let industries operate and provide jobs while creating a barrier to protect residents from pollution.

Barrio Logan resident Philomena Marino, who sits on the neighborhood’s planning group and lives near a recycling company, praised the new plan on Tuesday. Marino’s parents purchased their home in the 1950s and would often take her to parks in other communities to protect her from the pollution in the community. She lives in that same home today.

“I wish they were here to witness this beautiful concert of success by the residents, property owners and maritime industry,” an emotional Marino said.

The plan also calls for housing policies that limit the displacement of current residents. That includes creating affordable homeownership opportunities, requiring developers to set aside 15 percent of units for low-income residents, and sets up protections for tenants by establishing that developers provide options for them to return to new affordable units in the case that existing developments are demolished.

Residents on Tuesday expressed strong support for the anti-gentrification efforts in the plan given that many are already experiencing rent increases in the community.

The plan proposes the creation of small parks, a greenspace above Interstate 5 — known as a freeway lid — bike lanes, parking structures and improvements to existing public facilities.