[Editor’s Note: Yesterday, more than 40 community members from Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and Sherman Heights attended a hearing to urge Port of San Diego commissioners to reduce pollution and incorporate community benefits into the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Expansion plan.
According to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental justice screening tool, CalEnviroScreen, Barrio Logan remains among the worst five percent of neighborhoods suffering from the cumulative impacts of pollution in California. You can read the press release from the Environmental Health Coalition here.
SDFP Editor Brent Beltrán was one of the speakers. Here is what he said.]
Good afternoon. My name is Brent Beltrán.
I am not here today as a member of the board of directors of the Environment Health Coalition (though I forever stand alongside my colleagues). I’m also not here as the Vice Chair of the Barrio Logan Community Planning Group. Nor am I here as someone who writes about the beautiful, beleaguered community of Barrio Logan.
Today, I am here as the father of a five year old child, a child that has grown up in the most polluted community in San Diego County, a child that will be more susceptible to the ravages of asthma and lung cancer than children from more affluent communities and neighborhoods outside the range of the Port of San Diego. I am here to give voice to my child and to other parents like me that can not attend this meeting.
My community faces an onslaught of environmental hazards from freeway and bridge traffic exhaust and brake dust particles to Port tenant created pollution to railyard fumes and noise to the endless semi truck traffic coming out of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and so much more. Adding to this already toxic mix without the much needed mitigation recommended by the EHC would only compound the unhealthy issues we already have.
Barrio Logan is a community of workers, artists, activists, business owners, mothers, fathers and children, so many children. This hard working, tight knit community deserves to live in a place with less toxins, not more. I call on you to seek environmentally sound ways to mitigate the harmful impacts an expansion of the terminal would have on the residents and workers of Barrio Logan.
My community rarely catches a break from the local powers that be. The campaign to overturn our community plan proves this. But today, I’m hoping we finally catch a break. I’m hoping that all of you recognize the need to not only be good stewards to the Port of San Diego, but good stewards also towards the communities that are impacted by your decisions. Mitigating the environmental impact of an expansion is a good step towards being good stewards of Barrio Logan. Please accept the recommendations of the EHC and help children like my barrio born and raised son grow up in a healthy hood. Show him that people outside our community care about his health as much as we do.
The Port Commissioners unanimously voted to pass a sustainable plan. You can see the CBS News 8 report, with a comment from Brent.