By Georgette Gomez
Editor’s Note: The following presentation was given by Georgette Gomez, Associate Director of the Environmental Health Coalition, at the San Diego City Council meeting on December 17. Ms. Gomez has been at the forefront of the struggle to get the Barrio Logan Community Plan approved. At this meeting there were only two options available for the council: Rescind the Barrio Logan Plan or move forward with the Maritime Industry backed referendum. Residents and advocates chose to go to the ballot box. For more information on this issue go here.
Good afternoon, Georgette Gomez with Environmental Health Coalition.
Here we are again, defending the action that the majority of the Council took, not once but twice and now for the third time. You will hear today from residents, allies and our union workers, urging you to stand behind your adoption of the new plan for Barrio Logan and take it to the June ballot.
The Plan that the Council adopted is a great compromise plan that finally addresses the environmental injustice that Barrio Logan has endured for decades.
There are many problems that over time developed because of the 1978 Community Plan in Barrio Logan, an outdated and ineffective plan.
Some of these problems are: High disproportionate amount of toxic pollution sited in the community due to incompatible zoning, which allows for all uses (residential, commercial, educational institutions, and industrial) to be sited next to each other leading to high pollution levels and health problems.
What the Adopted Community Plan Does:
• Eliminates the incompatible land use patterns
• There is an increase of the prime industrial acreage by dedicating an exclusive zone – (residential and commercial were removed from this area)
• There is a separation and transition to buffer the community from the working waterfront and the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal
The buffer area encourages the development of:
• A parking structure for the working waterfront workforce
• Maritime administration offices
• Maritime suppliers that will not pose health threats to residents. It is true that these suppliers have to get a conditional use permit but this is to ensure there are minimal impacts on residents
• The plan celebrates the community’s history and character
• And finally the plan supports our local and regional economy by zoning for more commercial, office and administrative support uses, maritime business support and allowing for more heavy industrial
The people of San Diego elected our City Council members to lead our city, yet these bullying corporations think they can use their money to overturn City Council votes.
Shipyards have decided to challenge your approval of the new community plan by collecting signatures for a referendum vote to overturn your action.
Their arguments misrepresent the true facts of the plan. For instance, they argue that shipyard jobs will be lost due to the rezoning; that housing will be built on the properties where shipyards now operate; and that the Navy will leave San Diego. All untrue!
The majority of the City Council, who voted for the plan, believe that the new plan for Barrio Logan does not threaten the existence of the shipyards.
We thank the City Council for protecting democracy and the financial investment you made in the five-year community planning process that led to today’s Barrio Logan Plan.
This community planning process was truly a democratic process that reflects all stakeholders in this neighborhood. To ignore their decision is to negate the power of stakeholders over their neighborhoods. This is a detrimental precedent for Community Planning Groups throughout the city just as the city is investing more resources into community dialogue and you should protect it.
We urge you to continue to support your action of adopting this new plan for Barrio Logan and take the plan to the ballot in June.
It is time that Barrio Logan gets environmental justice!
The City Council voted 5-4, with all Democrats in the affirmative, to place the referendum on the June ballot. A yes vote on the soon-to-be named proposition will be a vote in support of the community plan and the residents of Barrio Logan.