Nonprofit to clean community five days a week
By Brent E. Beltrán
Barrio Logan has not been the cleanest community in San Diego. For years this predominantly Mexican American neighborhood has been neglected by the city, the transient population that lives on its public spaces and even its own residents.
Graffiti has been ubiquitous throughout the alleys, walls and fences of property owners and businesses. Trash has been strewn along the streets and sidewalks due to a lack of receptacles and youth not caring. Weeds have overgrown green areas and sprouted through cracks in concrete and asphalt. Trees and bushes on public property have become unruly.
But not any longer.
The nonprofit Urban Corps has been called upon to help clean the dirty streets, alleys and sidewalks of Barrio Logan. Under the direction of the Barrio Logan Association and the city of San Diego Urban Corps began servicing the assessed parts of Barrio Logan in early November.
Urban Corps mission statement says:
“The Urban Corps of San Diego County is a certified local conservation corps and charter school whose mission is to provide young adults with a high school education combined with job training and community service in the fields of conservation and recycling, which will assist youth in becoming more employable while protecting San Diego’s natural resources and instilling the importance of community service.”
Five days a week Urban Corps workers scour the neighborhood looking for things to clean up. The work they provide includes sidewalk maintenance, graffiti removal, power washing, bulky item/litter removal, landscaping and weed abatement, district identity improvements and other needed services to this neglected community.
In addition to the above type work Urban Corps will also run the administration part of the Barrio Logan Association including but not limited to setting up meetings, recording meeting minutes, outreach, mailings, reports, staffing office hours in Barrio Logan twice a week, and all other work related to running the administrative side of the BLA.
From November 6, when Urban Corps began work, up until their report at the Barrio Logan Association meeting on November 21 they collected 246 trash bags full of litter, swept the streets from 26th St. and National Ave. to 17th St. and Commercial Ave., removed 2,256 square feet of graffiti, provided weed abatement covering thirty one blocks and have trimmed fifty one trees. Since the 21st even more work has been provided to the neighborhood through the Barrio Logan Maintenance Assessment District.
The Barrio Logan MAD — known as the Barrio Logan Association — had a slightly controversial beginning. Recognizing the lack of city services provided to the Barrio Logan area City Councilman David Alvarez and Shea Properties — the developer of the Mercado del Barrio — contacted New City America to assess the possibility of creating a Maintenance Assessment District (an area that has an added property tax to provide extra services) within Barrio Logan.
NCA came back with a plan to create the Barrio Logan MAD. They would conduct a weighted vote of all property owners within the to-be-assessed district. Those who own multiple and/or larger properties would have more weight behind their vote. Thus, fourteen property owners within the to-be-assessed district combined for 70% of the vote creating the district.
The majority (99) of the 181 ballots that were sent out came back with a vote in opposition to the plan. But due to the vote being weighted in favor of those that own more or larger properties the vote to create the Barrio Logan MAD was approved.
This created much distrust and acrimony from property owners who did not vote in favor of the tax assessment. One Barrio Logan Association meeting was overrun by pissed off property owners yelling at board members because their taxes would be going up and they weren’t consulted other than receiving a ballot in the mail. This was a futile attempt on their part since the vote already took place and the MAD was going to be implemented regardless of their anger.
Since the formation of the Barrio Logan MAD the group San Diegans for Open Government have sued the city calling weighted votes for MAD’s and Business Improvement Districts an illegal tax.
Another issue that should have been resolved during the formation of the Barrio Logan Association popped up only recently. New City America was supposed to file paperwork for the BLA to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. When Urban Corps was picked over NCA to manage the newly formed MAD NCA dropped everything. Including filing the necessary paperwork to form the 501(c)3.
Thus, as of now, the Barrio Logan Association does not have nonprofit status and cannot create a contract with the city until it does. And to add insult to injury New City America is demanding funds for the startup costs of the MAD!
Luckily for the fledgling Barrio Logan Association Urban Corps and the city of San Diego have stepped up. The city has already collected the assessment from property owners within the MAD. The BLA can’t contract with the city due to not having nonprofit status. Therefore the city, with lots of help from Economic Development Division’s Luis Ojeda, is in the process of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on a contract with Urban Corps to do the work they would be doing under a contract with the BLA.
Though the contract is being held up due to city bureaucracy Urban Corps, working on good faith, has decided to start early in Barrio Logan. They have also chosen to help the Barrio Logan Association file the necessary paperwork to acquire nonprofit status. Once the BLA receives nonprofit status from the IRS they will contract with the city and Urban Corps.
Though the Barrio Logan Association hasn’t had a smooth start it is good to know that work has begun on improving the quality of life for all residents, property owners and businesses with the assessed district. If you see the helmeted, yellow vest wearing workers doing their job around Barrio Logan stop and say hi and let them know you appreciate their hard work.
And if you see areas of Barrio Logan in need of graffiti and/or trash removal, weed abatement and other maintenance or if you just want more information on the Barrio Logan Association or the Urban Corps please contact Barrio Logan District Administrator Karen Garcia via email or phone at (619) 235-6884 x3126.
Disclosure: the author is a board member of the Barrio Logan Association.