By Ernie McCray
Here we go. Same old same old politics in San Diego. The “Big Boys” have to get their way. They want us to vote “No” in opposition to a plan that was created to make a community healthy and safe. And mayor, Kevin Faulconer, who has billed himself as an “independent” leader, has, as such, been going around talking about how when Propositions B & C are voted down, “it will be our opportunity to pass a plan that works to protect our families, to protect our economy.”
Hey, dude, we already have a plan to keep toxics, pollutants, carcinogens and flammable chemicals, a safe distance away from Barrio Logan schools, playgrounds, and homes. So what does your plan look like? Oh, you don’t have one? And a new plan can’t happen for at least a year?
The Barrio Logan community worked diligently for years to bring about reasonable land use and zoning changes and it happened. It’s on the books right now. There’s a five-block buffer zone that bans new residential and industrial suppliers, while allowing such existing uses to remain in place and expand by no more than 20 percent.
But the shipbuilding industry fumes and whines. They don’t like any restrictions put on them, be they fair-minded or not and the prospect of having to apply for conditional use permits, so someone can keep an eye on them, absolutely ties their stomachs in knots. All the big players want a “compromise,” they say, which in the way they look at things would mean a community has to give up something that’s precious to them.
Ex-mayor, Jerry Sanders, calls what is now in place “bad for both residents and businesses” and Len Herring, a retired admiral who oversaw the San Diego naval command says “Let us try to do this again.” We called that kind of power play “overs” when I was a kid and things didn’t go our way.
And power play it is, all the way. But if we, as a community-at-large, really want to get our city back on track as one that is progressive and inclusive in its thinking, then we’ve got to promote “Yes” on B & C. Like crazy.
We have to dedicate ourselves righteously to what is morally right, to what makes us all safe in our communities, no matter our economic situations or ethnicities.
We have to understand that Barrio Logan has one of the highest rates of asthma in the county and the highest toxic releases which puts residents at risk for not only respiratory illnesses, but skin irritations and problems that can effect people developmentally. And what’s in the plan we have now is geared to protecting children and the environment from such realities.
We have to listen carefully when residents like Elva Martinez tell us “I lived right next to Master Plating. My son was very ill and he improved almost immediately when they left. I know toxic businesses near our homes are the reason residents and children are getting sick. And now we’re not just talking about this one business, but a plan for all of Barrio Logan, one that benefits the industries and the people.”
The truth is dozens of facilities, just like Master Plating, still exist today in Barrio Logan and they are grandfathered in and allowed to stay but “new” polluters would not be allowed in the newly established residential zones. Over time, implementation of the “Community Plan Update” will transform the neighborhood, improve children’s health and create new jobs.
This would break a 35 year history of toxic land-use planning that allowed houses, parks and schools to intermingle with polluting industrial properties. If the plan passes on June 3rd, it will finally separate industrial establishments and residential neighborhoods in the interest of breathable air, affordable community housing and support for the maritime workforce.
That should be compromise enough for everybody concerned.
Barrio Logan has earned our support in this struggle. They’ve shown us how to take on the powers-that-be. Our “Yes” vote on B & C is a vote for everybody having a chance to live with dignity.