San Diego City Council puts Barrio Logan zoning update on June ballot

Barrio Logan Plan Update At Issue

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council decided Tuesday to place the fate of new zoning regulations in Barrio Logan into the hands of voters.

The update of the Barrio Logan Community Plan was approved by the council on a pair of 5-4 party-line votes in September and October. However, the document was opposed by shipyards, which collected enough petition signatures to force the council to decide whether to repeal the plan or put it on a ballot.

The council opted to put the issue on the ballot on June 3.

The Barrio Logan plan seeks to separate industrial and residential land uses, which are intermingled in the economically disadvantaged neighborhood south of downtown San Diego.

Supporters call the zoning update a "compromise" that would reduce pollution for residents. But maritime industry executives fear a buffer zone created to enable the separation will eventually drive suppliers out of the area, raising costs.

Councilman David Alvarez, the mayoral candidate who guided the zoning update through the approval process, said he was "disappointed" and "disheartened" by claims made by opponents. He disputed their contentions that the Navy would leave San Diego and that the maritime industry would lose 46,000 jobs under the plan.

"I think that the misinformation that was spread is quite shameful, especially when it comes from reputable sources, or those who consider themselves reputable," Alvarez said. He said no one wanted to lose the jobs that the area's residents depend on.

His opponent in the Feb. 11 mayoral runoff election, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, said the two sides agree on 90 percent of the new zoning plan, and that the patchwork zoning in the area is in "desperate need of an overhaul," but not at the expense of an industry "that creates thousands of jobs and contributes billions of dollars to our local economy."

"We must create strong, long-term protections for San Diego families, and the jobs on which they depend," Faulconer said. "And let's remember that these are some of the best manufacturing jobs that any San Diegan has the opportunity to fill."

Derry Pence, president of the San Diego Ship Repair Association -- which sponsored the petition drive -- said the city has "removed the welcome mat for industry" in Barrio Logan.

Land-use consultant Joe LaCava said the plan wasn't perfect, but struck "the right balance" between competing interests.

"To overturn the council's approval sends the wrong message about participating in community plan updates," LaCava said.

Development of Barrio Logan's zoning update took about five years, and included numerous public meetings. Meanwhile, work is underway to update community plans in around 50 neighborhoods around town.

The Barrio Logan issue will appear as two items -- one for each City Council action -- on the ballot in June as part of a primary election for council seats and other legislative races at different levels of government.

There's still a chance the zoning plan might not make it to the ballot. One of the plan's primary supporters, the Environmental Health Coalition, sued the Ship Repair Association in an effort to invalidate the signatures. The coalition contends that alleged falsehoods uttered by the signature gatherers should void their work.

A Superior Court judge denied the coalition's bid for a temporary restraining order, but the lawsuit remains alive.

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