By Brent E. Beltrán
If there is time and space I plan on reading the following at today’s 2pm San Diego City Council meeting.
I come before you today not as a paid employee of Continental Marine or of the other ubiquitous polluting industries that mar the streetscape of Barrio Logan. Nor do I come as a high paid lobbyist or lawyer of these same businesses. Neither am I a CEO or manager of said industry.
I come before you today as a relatively new resident of Barrio Logan. I’ve lived in Logan Heights for two years and am now finishing my first year as an apartment dweller in the new Estrella del Mercado complex. Though for the past 20 years I have participated in various ways in the life and activities of Barrio Logan.
For decades my community has struggled with neglect by the political players, power brokers and industries that have never cared about the residents of this barrio.
A freeway bulldozed its way through here bisecting what was once a larger neighborhood. A bridge was constructed over the heads of working class families. Homeless shelters have been created within and just outside our border. Homeless people by the dozens sleep on our sidewalks, alleys, businesses, front yards and parks. Train conductors frequently blow their horns between midnight and 5am. A ballpark casts a shadow over us taking up valuable parking spaces during home games. Threats of a new football stadium loom in the distance.
This community has put up with a lot of neglect and indifference for far too many years. But this community has always fought back. It has fought for a park underneath that bridge, a park that is recognized all over the world. It has struggled for bay access (and still struggles to find parking there since Continental Marine employees illegally park Monday through Friday). It has kicked out junkyards and metal plating shops. And it continues to fight stereotypes on a daily basis.
This community is resilient. This community is beautiful. And this community is ours. And we are tired of having to fight for things that other community’s take for granted. Though we may be tired we will never give up the struggle for a better life for the residents of Barrio Logan. Because that is what this community does and it does it well. We’re fighters.
We may not have the financial capabilities to line the pockets of politicians. We may not have the backing of San Diego’s congressional delegation, which has turned their backs on us. Including Juan Vargas the congressman that represents this district and used to sit on this council. We don’t have lobbyists that lie and distort the truth about the community plan update. We don’t have businesses that can pay and feed their workers to be here and tow the lies that their bosses provide them.
All we have are ourselves, our bodies to put on the line like those that did so on April 22, 1970. And we have the streets. Our streets. These mean streets that have been taken before and can be taken again if a call is made.
The maritime industry that pollutes our families have never acted in good faith. They have always looked upon the residents with disdain and they continue to do so. They have lied throughout the community plan update process and their lies continue here today. Their industries are thriving and the shipyards are going nowhere. Their greedy land grab must be stopped. Don’t listen to their lies and approve Alternative 1.
This is just one battle in the war they have waged on the residents of my community. Another battle will take place in front of the Coastal Commission if they don’t get their plan approved. And, if ultimately, they don’t get their way they have already stated that they will use their financial resources to take the issue to the ballot box. They will do whatever they can to get their plan passed. And the residents of Barrio Logan will fight them every step of the way.
So I implore you to send a message to these lying, greedy, polluting industries. I implore you to stand in solidarity with the residents of Barrio Logan and do the right thing for a community that anyone outside of it has rarely done. Show my community the love it deserves and approve Alternative 1.
Thank you. Y que viva Barrio Logan!