Contentious Barrio Logan plan to finally be decided

A contentious jobs-versus-resident-quality-of-life debate in a small portion of San Diego will be tackled by voters citywide in today's primary election.

In Propositions B and C, voters will be asked to affirm the City Council's actions last year to update the zoning plan for Barrio Logan.  

The plan, five years in the making, separates industrial and residential land uses that are intermingled in the economically disadvantaged neighborhood south of downtown San Diego.

Opponents, led by the area's shipyards, contend that a buffer zone created between homes and industrial areas will eventually force important suppliers to the maritime industry to move by making it too difficult for them to remodel or expand. They contend the impact would be a higher cost of doing business and a loss of jobs.

The shipyards, led by General Dynamics NASSCO and BAE Systems, collected enough signatures to force the issue to a public vote. Two propositions are required because the zoning plan passed on a pair of 5-4 council votes - one on an ordinance and another on a resolution.

Former Mayor Jerry Sanders said the plan is bad for the neighborhood and for jobs.

"Propositions B and C put thousands of good, middle class jobs in jeopardy by placing homes right near the shipyards," said Sanders, now the CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, San Diego Military Advisory Council and other business groups urge "no" votes on the propositions.  

On the other side of the fence, advocates of the zoning update contend that the shipyards overstate the possibility of job losses or that businesses would have to move.

"The plan protects residents from industry and also protects industry from residents," said Mark Steele, an architect and former chairman of the San Diego Planning Commission. "A yes vote would enact these protections while a no vote will return us to a 'wild west' with no protections."

Manpower CEO Mel Katz said the plan "strikes a great balance between economic development, job protection and public health protection."

Duane Billings told 10News that he voted yes.

"I've lived here all my life and on that side of the freeway, which is commercial, there's a lot of people I know next to places doing chrome plating and stuff like that and their kids were getting sick," said Billings.

Monica Torres also voted in favor, saying, "I just want a nice area to live and for my grandsons to enjoy."

However, there's an environmental report that cited the nearby Interstate 5 freeway as the prime cause of health problems. Plus, there are fears that shipbuilding jobs could be lost.

Brian Daniels said he voted no because "I voted to keep the shipyard intact; it creates 10,000 jobs down here. Our economy needs a little bit of everything; tourists, manufacturing, shipbuilding. One by one, they've run everybody out of here."

Georgette Gomez was campaigning for passage, saying, "It doesn't allow industrial to be sited right in front of people's homes, right in front of the elementary school and the residents want a healthy and safe community."

John Alvarado took the other view, telling 10News, "But the small print said you could have other sensitive receptors; such as old folks homes, schools, put children in harm's way, and the elderly and that's not a workable solution."

Another ballot measure facing San Diego voters is the first of what is likely to be a several years-long series of proposed revisions to the City Charter.

Proposition A would, among other things, set the city's inauguration day for Dec. 10, or the first Monday following if that date lands on a weekend.

The charter currently schedules inaugurations for the mayor and City Council members on the first Monday following the first day of December.

The problem is that the current arrangement schedules inaugurations 27-34 days following the general election, and the state allows county registrars of voters 28 days to certify the results. The Legislature is considering giving registrars two extra days.

The Dec. 10 date would be 32-38 days after a November election, eliminating a potential conflict. The change would also make the length of terms in office more consistent.

Approval of Proposition A would also change the City Charter to allow more time between a special election and a subsequent runoff.

In other ballot measures:
 
-- Proposition D affects only a small portion of northeast San Diego County served by the Coachella Valley Water District, which proposes to change how its directors are elected;

-- Proposition E is a $29 million construction bond for the Coronado Unified School District that requires a 55 percent "yes" vote to approve;

-- Proposition F is a decision for East County voters on whether Grossmont Hospital should retain its affiliation with Sharp Healthcare.

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