“We may be poor, brown folk but we have organized to take on the state, city and industry numerous times and have won. This may be our biggest battle yet, a battle for our very existence.”
By Doug Porter
For thirty years, San Diego’s Barrio Logan community existed without a community plan. There was no law, no order when it came to land use and zoning. Having prospered in chaos for so many years, nearby maritime industries are threatening the region’s economy unless they get their way.
Historically speaking, in the minds of the downtown-centric elites any regulatory structure was simply not necessary in Barrio Logan. After all, the community was just chock full of “them”, as in people of color, mostly of Mexican heritage. Children were exposed to toxic emissions, the nearby waters used to dump heavy metals and other pollutants, and the robber barons of the shipbuilding industry looked away.
All that messy “stuff” had to go somewhere. Clean air and water were a priority for the city’s “nicer” neighborhoods as a matter of policy.
As other communities around San Diego held street fairs and got block grants, the residents of Barrio Logan struggled just to get organized. For the past five years they’ve worked to create order out of chaos via the creation of a community plan. At public meetings residents jousted with the shipyard builders who dominate the adjacent Port of San Diego-controlled shoreline.
Rather than draw the process out any further, two community plans were created. On September 17, the City Council voted to adopt a modified version of the resident-centric plan including concessions proposed by Councilman Alvarez designed to ease the tensions between the competing interests. The newly approved plan would separate industrial establishments and residential neighborhoods in the interest of breathable air, affordable community housing and support for the maritime workforce.
That compromise wasn’t good enough for waterfronts’ three big shipbuilding and repair companies — General Dynamics NASSCO, BAE Systems and Continental Maritime of San Diego. They say they can’t live with this deal. Using the same kind of flawed logic used by the NRA and gun advocates, they say this is part of creeping conspiracy to do them in. They’ve vowed to overturn the community plan through a public referendum.
Or at least the threat of a public referendum. With high profile figures like Carl DeMaio leading the charge for signatures in shopping centers in neighborhoods north of Interstate 8 and the editorial board of UT-San Diego propagating suggestions of impending economic disaster, the backers of this initiative hope to follow Walmart’s example, whereby the mere threat of an election forced a cash-strapped City to back down.
Let’s dial up the UT-San Diego’s Sunday sermon on the topic (we’ll come back with actual facts in a moment):
The San Diego City Council on Tuesday faces another showdown over the development blueprint for a small community with giant economic stakes for the entire region in play. At potential risk are thousands of jobs in a maritime industry that is part of the community and that gives a $14 billion shot in the arm to the local economy every year. San Diego cannot afford to get this one wrong.
The council is scheduled for a final reading of a zoning ordinance it initially approved Sept. 17 on a partisan 5-4 vote — the council’s five Democrats over its four Republicans — to implement the updated Barrio Logan community plan. Maritime industry leaders say the plan and its new zoning would make business virtually impossible for the vendors and suppliers that dot a section of the community and that serve the Navy and the working waterfront’s three big shipbuilding and repair companies — General Dynamics NASSCO, BAE Systems and Continental Maritime of San Diego. They say the gradual demise of those businesses would jeopardize the entire shipbuilding and repair industry here, and possibly even threaten some of the Navy’s historic presence in San Diego.
In the wake of last month’s council vote, industry leaders launched a signature-gathering campaign to overturn it through a public referendum. They say the signature drive so far is on pace to collect more than twice the 34,000 signatures needed by Nov. 1. If that holds true, it would put the council in a bind in which it would have to either rescind the Sept. 17 approval of the plan and the zoning or put them on the ballot next June for voters to decide.
It’s truly touching to see the editorial board of the Daily Fishwrap invoking so much concern over the shipbuilding/maritime industry’s impact on the region’s economy.
Or perhaps hypocritical is a better word than touching; especially when they were saying just last year, as Scott Lewis at VOSD points out, “its No. 1 priority was to abolish the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal and replace it with a sports resort that included a new football stadium.” The paper suggested moving shipbuilding to National City as an easy and painless solution.
So what’s at the heart of this dispute? After all, Barrio Logan’s plan does NOT include the waterfront properties inhabited by these maritime companies.
Here’s Andrew Keatts via VOSD:
That’s the disagreement: Can shipyard-supporting companies open without a conditional use permit in a nine-block area north of Harbor Drive?
That’s it. Everything else has been settled.
That nine-block area isn’t home to 46,000 jobs. It’s not even home to the 14,000 jobs that take place at the Port. It is, however, home to a handful of small businesses that work hand-in-hand with the shipyard (and those existing companies will be able to stay open, but their expansion options will be limited).
According to the environmental impact report for the adopted plan, the buffer zone and industrial park combination will contribute to a projected increase in employment from just over 10,000 jobs to nearly 15,000. The plan received unanimous support of the San Diego City Planning Commission and recommendation for approval from city staff.
Yet we’re being told that thousands of jobs are threatened.
I agree with the shipbuilders when they say much is at stake. We disagree about what is at stake. A city of villages is supposed to be at the heart of the planning version for San Diego. That assumption pre-supposes that citizens are involved as stakeholders.
Except for Barrio Logan, apparently. I have no doubt that a big money campaign warning people (falsely) that jobs are at stake with enactment of this plan will convince non-stakeholders in other neighborhoods to vote with the corporate interests here. After all, they’re just a bunch of brown skinned people down there.
I asked Brent Beltrán, our columnist/reporter from that community, for his take. His passionate response leaves no doubt about the real nature of the struggle, and it’s more than just about residents of his neighborhood:
Why does San Diego‘s maritime industry hate my fellow residents of Barrio Logan so much?
Is it because we no longer want to be polluted by warmongers, weapons manufacturers and, in the case of BAE Systems, a company that has paid one of the largest fines ever for bribing governments and also has taken part in shady arms deals with the likes of former Chilean dictator Agusto Pinochet and the pariah government of Zimbabwe among others.
Or perhaps it is a simple case of these greedy, out-of-state (and out of country) corporations don’t like poor brown folks standing up for themselves. It has nothing to do with jobs being lost because of the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update. Those jobs aren’t going anywhere. The shipyards aren’t going anywhere. They are too valuable to the region and it would be too expensive for them to move out of town.
Something more nefarious is happening and my community won’t stand for it. They may be billion dollar companies but this is our neighborhood. We live here and breathe in the filth that the shipyards spew out. We may be poor, brown folk but we have organized to take on the state, city and industry numerous times and have won. This may be our biggest battle yet, a battle for our very existence.
I have faith in this little barrio; faith that we will all come together and win the fight of our lives. Because these are our homes. These are our streets. And we will defend them.
March Against Monsanto Rallies
Saturday afternoon San Diegans, along with people in hundred of cities around the world, came out to call for permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and other harmful agro-chemicals.
The Monsanto Corporation’s role in marketing patented GMO seeds without regard to their long term effects on the food chain has made them the focus of this world wide movement.
Demonstrations and marches occurred on six continents, in 52 countries, with events in over 400 cities. In the US events were planned for 47 states.
The local protest started at the Balboa Park fountain, with several hundred people listening to speakers and then proceeding to march through downtown.
According to KCET reporter Brooke Binkowski, “Many people dressed in red as a sign of solidarity or as bees to call attention to Colony Collapse Disorder, a disease that is killing entire hives at unprecedented rates and has been linked to pesticide overuse.”
- *Hugh Moore– Green Party of San Diego, Topic: Monsanto and government.
- *Suzanne McKenzie– Holistic Health Practitioner ((specializing in nutrition, herbology & more)) Topic: The body’s response to “non-food” substances
- *Nick Bernabe– Founder of The Anti-Media.org & Social Media Director of MAM Topic: Mainstream Media & future action groups
- *Tanya Mack– Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance/COVVHA Core Chairperson (daughter of deceased Vietnam veteran connected to Agent Orange illnesses) Topic: Agent Orange
- *Carrie Driskill– Owner @ San Diego Seed Company Topic: Seed Diversity & Monsanto owning seeds
- *Nancy Cassidy– General Manager of OB People’s Co-Operative Topic: Joining a Co-op and eating organic
- *Alicia Sacks– Topic: Community Supported Agriculture
- *Jeeni Criscenzo – Reading “Last Judgment”
Sick and Twisted Gun Nuts
Ugh. From Buzzfeed:
A joint coalition of gun lobbyists are declaring Dec. 14, 2013 — the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook School in Newtown,Conn. — “Guns Saves Lives Day.”
The Second Amendment Foundation, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and DefendGunRights.com
In addition to these organized events, GunsSaveLivesDay.com
Filner Recall Squabbles Live On
It’s good thing for the recall organizers that Bob Filner resigned when he did. Infighting and “lack of communication” were causing serious rifts in the recall movement, especially over just who spoke for the cause. Despite the efforts of long-time seasoned political pros to keep an even keel, things were getting downright dicey in the waning weeks of August.
And it ain’t over. From UT-San Diego:
Two original organizers of the recall effort against former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner are complaining about how the committee handled donations that poured into the summer campaign.
Stampp Corbin and Elisa Brent signed an open letter to recall chief Michael Pallamary and several others this week, raising questions about how thousands of dollars in contributions were spent.
“To date, no financial disclosures have been filed with the City Clerk’s office,” the letter states, claiming forms had been promised sooner. “This lack of transparency is exactly what the citizens of San Diego have grown weary of.”
The Shutdown Blues…
As I’m finishing up writing today, rumors abound on the interwebs that an agreement of some sort on the shutdown/fiscal cliff may yet be achieved in Washington.
I just want to call your attention to an item you may have missed in the rush to “blame both sides and call it fair reporting” by the local news media…
The “Game Changing” Million Veteran March on Washington yesterday staged by Tea Party supporters turned out to be as big a bust as the truck driver blockage of the DC beltway that was supposed to force President Obama to resign.
Fox News predicted 10,000 truckers would clog the local interstate as a popular expression of support for whatever position the teabaggers have taken on the government last Friday. About 30 showed up.
The Million Vets expected to show up on Sunday fell about 999,800 short. None-the-less, the crowd led by Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz, marched around town. As local wag Lucas OConnor put it on Twitter:
The shutdown is so unpopular, the actual people shutting down the government are protesting the shutdown today. They are literally protesting themselves.
The group did manage to march over to the Black President’s house while waving a confederate flag. Because…Freedom…
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrán, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: email@example.com
On This Day: 1936 – The first SSB (Social Security Board) office opened in Austin, TX. From this point, the Board’s local office took over the assigning of Social Security Numbers. 1964 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in America. 1972 – “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” was released by the Temptations.
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