Scenes from Barrio Logan's Last Day in Limbo - Voice of San Diego

Barrio Logan UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Scenes from Barrio Logan's Last Day in Limbo

Even in Barrio Logan, turnout seemed modest Tuesday, though most supported propositions that would uphold the community’s new growth outline.

Most everyone leaving Ryan Bros Coffee, the only polling place in Barrio Logan, on Tuesday morning did so with coffee in hand. A smaller group had also come to vote.

Expectations are low for citywide voter turnout. It certainly didn’t feel like people were coming out in droves in Barrio Logan, whose future is on the ballot in the forms of Propositions B and C, which would uphold a growth plan for the community that would separate homes from industrial businesses.

A handful of residents and workers who voted in person Tuesday morning – far more voters return their ballots by mail – mostly voted to keep the plan.

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Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson

Laura Lopez-King, a 33-year-old Logan Heights resident and business analyst for Planned Parenthood voted for the propositions. She said having a citywide vote on the plan was just part of living in a city.

“I live here, and I think it’s important to separate homes and industry,” she said. “I’ll be honest, I don’t love the shipyards. And this might be selfish, but this is the community I want, with more commercial businesses and parks and homes here. I know the shipyards are important, but I think the shipyards are here to stay, the jobs are here to stay, and I don’t care if their suppliers are forced to locate a little bit farther away.”

She was referring to the fundamental disagreement between the shipbuilders who oppose the plan, and the residents who largely backed it. The plan would change zoning in a few blocks north of Harbor Drive, between the shipyards to the south and an area the plan sets aside for more homes to the north.

That area is home to a lot of smaller companies that support the shipbuilders. Suppliers that are already there would be able to stay, but new ones would either need a special permit or would have to locate elsewhere.

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Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson

Jerry Cork, 78, is retired, lives in Barrio Logan and voted against both propositions because he felt their scope was too broad.

“They should have made it narrower,” Cork said, holding the stub of a cigar and wearing a tie-dye shirt. “If they had restricted it to air and noise pollution” – as in, the companies that would be restricted from opening – that would be something Cork said he might have supported.

He said any claims about pollution in the neighborhood seem exaggerated.

“I have a fairly sensitive nose,” he said, though the fumes do sometimes seem “to bother my neighbors.”

The real culprit for pollution, Cork believes, is the heavy traffic that passes over nearby bridges and freeways.

“The freeway traffic with the bridge, the emissions there are incredible,” he said.

The shipbuilders made a similar case, pointing to an environmental study that said the plan would increase pollution due to increased residential development. That study, though, didn’t assess what affect separating industrial and residential uses would have on the community.

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Caridad Sanchez, a 36-year-old resident of nearby Southcrest who grew up in the area, said residents and industry have always tried to coexist, and called the industry’s decision to put the issue on the ballot disrespectful, and an encroachment on the neighborhood.

“I get that this is a military town, but they shouldn’t have suggested that this threatened the military, when the Navy was clear that they weren’t relocating,” she said.

The plan isn’t simple, Sanchez said, and there are complicated nuances that should be decided by professionals who work on the issue every day.

“I hope people understand the implications of this on the planning process,” she said. “People in Clairemont don’t know the issues we have here, just as I wouldn’t know about the issues they have in Clairemont or La Jolla.”

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Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson

Paul Cleary, a 45-year-old La Jolla resident who works at a solar power company in Barrio Logan, said he disagreed with undoing years of work.

City planners worked with a group of Barrio Logan residents and business owners for more than five years to put the plan together. That group voted in favor of the plan, as did the city’s planning commission, before the City Council approved it this fall.

“It was a comprehensive, inclusive process that came up with a conclusive, long-term plan, and the plan it came up with was good,” he said. “There’s room for everybody, and it is a responsible change to long-term zoning.”

He said the shipyards’ arguments lost resonance with him when he learned of misleading statements signature-gatherers had made (like claiming the plan would force the Navy out of San Diego, or that it called for waterfront condos in place of the shipyards). But, he said he didn’t take issue with the city voting on the plan.

“You take that as part of being part of a city,” he said. “It’s what you do as part of the collective.”

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Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson

Barbara Murray and her husband Brion Murray, do not live in Barrio Logan but visit often on bicycle rides, to do tutoring work and for coffee at Ryan Bros.

Barbara Murray, a defense attorney who lives in Point Loma, said she voted yes on Proposition B and C because “we come here all the time” and “we feel strongly about this neighborhood.”

“I really just did it because I love this neighborhood and I want it to be preserved,” she said.

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Kenny Soreano, 48, enjoys living in Barrio Logan but knows it comes with some strings attached.

“I love living in an industrial area, but there’s a price to pay,” Soreano said, referring to the emissions.

Soreano said he voted yes on Propositions B and C.

“I think the families of Barrio Logan have been shafted around for decades,” Soreano said. “It’s time that they got a break.”

It’s fair that the entire city vote on the propositions, he said, because the issues have impacts for all San Diego residents.

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Rondi Vasquez, 45, lives in San Carlos but works in Barrio Logan and said Tuesday morning she was planning to vote on her way home.

She plans to vote yes on Propositions B and C.

“I think that the community plan was a plan already supported by the neighborhood,” Vasquez said. “I think it should have gone through without interference from the maritime industry.”

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Omar Vaquero, 25, lives in Logan Heights and is planning to go to law school in the fall.

“I voted yes on both,” Vaquero said of Propositions B and C. “It’s going to curb pollution, that’s what I read.”

Vaquero thinks that it makes sense everyone in the city should vote on the propositions.

“I think everybody should because the pollution doesn’t just stay in this area,” he said. “I think everybody should have a voice in determining what happens.”

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