EHC has been working in Barrio Logan for decades to reduce toxic pollution and improve livability for its residents, but some recently released information quantifies just how serious the situation has become. Results from California's environmental justice screening model, CalEnviroScreen, rank Barrio Logan as the highest at-risk community in San Diego County and in the top 5 percent for the entire state

What is an environmental justice hostpot? It is any area with extraordinarily high levels of toxic pollution, making the neighborhood hazardous to residents.

cal enviro screen

The CalEnviroScreen also takes into consideration a wide variety of other indicators (education, poverty, demographics, medical care, to name a few) to determine which communities are at a higher risk of pollution-related illnesses. Sky-rocketing levels of toxins have given Barrio Logan communities three times the asthma rate of the rest of San Diego. Residents breathe in heavily polluted air as a result of manufacturing shops in their backyards and industrial trucks parked along their streets.

EHC's Research Director, Joy Williams, was recently published in the San Diego Free Press. She described it exceptionally well when she wrote, 

"A strikingly obvious feature of Barrio Logan is that land uses are mixed together in a way not seen in any other community in San Diego. Industries, homes, schools, auto body shops, recycling yards, stores, and parks all share the same compact space, wedged in between the I-5 freeway and the waterfront industries bordering San Diego Bay south of the Convention Center. Heavy diesel truck traffic moves around and through the community; cargo ships run their engines at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal; and the BNSF railyard hosts aging locomotives a short distance upwind of Perkins Elementary School. Smaller industries contribute their own hazards to the community profile – they may be directly next door to homes and may have traffic, odor, vibration, and noise impacts, as well as fire hazards. Pollution close to people is reflected in Barrio Logan's 'hot spot' identity."

But there is hope for change, and a healthy future. For almost forty years, EHC has been working on Barrio Logan's Community Plan Update, which goes to San Diego City Council in the middle of September. If approved, this community plan will relocate massive, industrial businesses from Barrio Logan's residential streets to a specifically designated industrial zone away from homes and schools. Not only will it address incompatible land-use, but incorporate affordable housing conservation of the San Diego Bay waterfront where a plethora of workers are located. 

The only concern lies in preserving the rich cultural history and unique art of Barrio Logan. Although the goal is to create a healthy, livable neighborhood, residents aim to do this while maintaining the unique characteristics that make Barrio Logan one-of-a-kind.

The community has rallied to support the Community Plan Update. It is an urgent necessity for health and quality of life in Barrio Logan, and EHC continues its unwaivering determination to make Barrio Logan toxic free. Hopefully, the CalEnviroScreen's official report will prove just how much help this community needs and they will finally make their voices heard for change in September. 

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