A new proposal aims to make Barrio Logan a healthier and more prosperous neighborhood by creating a long-awaited buffer zone between housing areas and the nearby shipping industry.
The plan, which the City Council is slated to consider Tuesday, would update Barrio Logan’s growth blueprint to triple the number of housing units, triple the number of residents and increase the number of jobs by 30 percent.
It also calls for eight new parks, several new bicycle lanes and a possible freeway lid — a greenspace that would be built over Interstate 5 where it runs near Barrio Logan’s eastern edge.
One of San Diego’s most culturally rich neighborhoods, Barrio Logan is just south of downtown and just east of San Diego Bay.
The 142-page proposed blueprint, formally called a community plan update, also aims to help existing residents stay in Barrio Logan with some of the strongest anti-gentrification and affordable housing policies ever proposed in San Diego.
In addition, restrictions on trucks traveling through the community would be expanded to more streets, and efforts to enforce those rules would be stepped up.
The proposal comes eight years after a less ambitious update to Barrio Logan’s growth blueprint was overturned by a citywide referendum led by the shipping industry and other business groups. Back then, industrial businesses in the neighborhood expressed concerns that new zoning would prevent them from expanding and operating effectively.
If the council approves this proposal on Tuesday, Barrio Logan would have a new growth plan for the first time since 1978 — nine years after construction of the Coronado Bridge damaged the community’s character and cohesiveness.
City officials are hailing the proposal as a remarkable compromise between the shipping industry, environmental advocates and neighborhood leaders, who are credited with solving problems deemed intractable just a few years ago.
“This is a great day for the Barrio Logan community,” Councilmember Vivian Moreno said after the council’s land use committee unanimously approved the changes on Nov. 3. “This plan protects our residents from exposure to pollution, plans for future increases in density and ensures that amenities like parks and transportation infrastructure are built.”
Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera said the plan would reverse previous environmental racism that has damaged Barrio Logan.
“The discriminatory policies and practices that constitute environmental racism have disproportionately burdened the Barrio Logan community with polluting facilities, substandard housing and hazardous exposures,” he said.
A key element is a 65-acre buffer zone between heavy industrial uses and residential areas. The plan would prohibit any new industrial uses in the zone and existing industrial business could not expand. The zone is bounded by Harbor Drive and Main Street to the south, Newton Avenue and Boston Avenue to north, Chollas Creek to the east and Evans Street to the west.
Mark Steele, chairman of the Barrio Logan Community Planning Group, said it’s crucial for the new zoning to be in place as soon as possible.
“We cannot handle any more intrusion of industry into the precious residential zones of Barrio Logan,” he said.
The proposal, which aims to guide development in the area over the next 20 to 30 years, would increase the number of housing units in Barrio Logan from 1,300 to 4,000, the number of residents from 4,000 to more than 12,000, and the number of jobs from 11,200 to about 15,000.
To help existing residents stay in Barrio Logan, the proposal would require developers of housing projects to make 15 percent of the units subsidized for low-income people.
To help prevent gentrification, the proposal steps up protections for existing tenants for when their building would be demolished to make way for new projects. It also includes stronger hurdles to discourage converting apartments into condominiums.
City officials said these policies are particularly crucial in Barrio Logan, where 80 percent of residents are renters, compared to 53 percent citywide.
Rents and incomes are relatively low in Barrio Logan. Market rents average $778 per month compared to $2,003 citywide, while the household median income is $37,408 a year, or $3,117 a month — compared to $86,101 a year or $7,175 a month citywide.
The planning group approved the proposal 10-to-1 on Oct. 20.