“This design is of the community, by the community, and for the community.”
By Brent E. Beltrán
Barrio Logan, San Diego’s most historic Mexican neighborhood, is getting what most other local communities have: a gateway sign. This soon-to-be community landmark will span Cesar E. Chavez Parkway between Main St. and Newton Ave.
The Port of San Diego, in partnership with SANDAG, Caltrans and the City of San Diego, is the sponsor of the $1.7 million Proposition 1B funded Barrio Logan Gateway Sign and Port Access Improvements project.
A ceremonial groundbreaking took place on Monday, January 13 with presentations by Bob Nelson, Incoming Chair of the Board of Port Commissioners, City Councilman David Alvarez, SANDAG Chairman Jack Dale, Caltrans Deputy District Director of Planning Bill Figge, and artist Armando Nuñez.
“This gateway design honors the legacy of Chicano Park and is an appropriate statement from and for the community,” said Bob Nelson.
Lead artist Armando Nuñez and Estrada Land Planning architect Vicki Estrada designed the sign through a collaborative process with area residents, property owners, business owners and artists.
“It was a true collaborative effort. We came together the best way and put together a project this community will be proud to have,” said Councilman Alvarez.
The Mesoamerican themed gateway was not only designed to stand as a symbol of community pride but it also has a practical purpose. Pollution and pedestrian danger from trucks that use the Port of San Diego’s 10th Ave. Terminal has been an issue for Barrio Logan residents for many years. The Environmental Health Coalition successfully negotiated with the Port to divert truck traffic off of neighborhood streets. Apparently some drivers didn’t get the memo and many trucks still rumble down Chavez Parkway, including during Councilman Alvarez’s presentation to ceremony attendees.
He stated that, “part of this was also to divert trucks and maintain a good quality of life for people that live here. It’s not a truck route. It’s actually a community corridor.”
Large trucks are not supposed to travel on Cesar Chavez Parkway yet many still do either because they are unaware of Chavez being off limits or they simply don’t care. The gateway sign will be a
physical visual impediment to future truck traffic , unless an errant truck driver happens to smash right through it. Hopefully that won’t happen.
The Barrio Logan gateway sign project is but one more positive aspect of the revitalization of Barrio Logan. The burgeoning Barrio Logan Arts District with the recent additions of Chicano Art Gallery and La Bodega on Logan Ave are others as well as the opening of the Mercado del Barrio complex with the Estrella del Mercado apartments and the construction of the Cesar E. Chavez Continuing Education Center.
The formation of the Barrio Logan Association Maintenance Assessment District and their hiring of Urban Corps to clean up the community five days a week is another example. National treasure Chicano Park, with the help of Urban Corps, will also see some much needed improvements in the coming year. Through projects like these Barrio Logan is fast becoming a neighborhood on the rise.
[The article has been changed to reflect that the sign will be a visual impediment to truck drivers not a physical one. Trucks will not be able to smash into the sign like the author foolishly thought.]