"The Better Barrio" – A three-part blog series highlighting a time when Logan Heights flourished and enriched all of San Diego.

Looking at Barrio Logan today, one may not know it was once one of the most thriving and desirable destinations in all of San Diego. Long before industrial businesses stood between family homes and schools, Barrio Logan, once known as Logan Heights, had some of the highest housing stock in the area and was considered one of the best parts of San Diego. It has been noted that some of San Diego's most prominent families and politicians settled in Logan Heights in the early 1900s, around the time of major commercial railroad development.

Barrio Logan First Train

The railroads connected San Diego as never before and brought industry, people and money to the thriving area. Soon after, the local businesses began to grow and diversify and more houses were built. The community flourished in the early years of the 20th century before automobile industrialization and the subsequent construction of the I-5 freeway, which very literally divided the community in half.

Since the 1950s, the community has longed to return to its happier and healthier days. We have a chance to put our neighborhood back on its path to a prosperous future by supporting Alternative 1 for the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update on September 17th.

Alternative 1 is the community-supported option for our neighborhood to make the positive changes Barrio Logan has needed for decades and become a desirable and toxic-free San Diego destination once again.

Please join us at City Council (202 C Street, San Diego, CA. 92101) on Tuesday, September 17th at 2 p.m. to restore an important piece of San Diego history.


"The Better Barrio" – A three-part blog series highlighting a time when Logan Heights flourished and enriched all of San Diego.

Coronet TheaterPrior to the toxic-air pollution and mixed land-use patterns, Barrio Logan, once known as Logan Heights, stood strong as a healthy and thriving neighborhood.

During World War II the Coronet Theater opened in the heart of the community at 1796 Logan Avenue, and became extremely popular- especially among children. The theater played a variety of child-friendly movies and was well known for supporting local clubs such as Los Gallos. Los Gallos often put on free cartoon shows at the theater for kids.

Eventually, Coronet Theater became a community landmark that grew to host more than just movies, but also popular Latino performers and movie stars when they traveled to San Diego.

Barrio Logan was once a primary destination for San Diego performers and fans alike, and we have the opportunity now to restore our rich community culture.

Please sign our letter and support Alternative 1 for the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update and join us on Tuesday at City Council, 2 p.m. at 202 C Street, San Diego, CA. 92101, to put our community on the right path to a promising and healthy future.

Barrio Logan is one of the oldest in San Diego and rich with history - we deserve a chance to become the thriving community we once were, and it starts with Alternative 1. 

Below is a powerful email we received from a community member, shedding new light on the two proposed updates for Barrio Logan's Community Plan. Please join us on Tuesday, September 17 at City Council: 202 C Street, San Diego, CA. 92101 in support of Alternative 1 to the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update.


"This is a plea for support. Barrio Logan is again under attack by greedy industrial leaders and their lobbyist. Please attend the San Diego City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 17 at 2pm and support the community's last effort in support of Barrio Logan as a residential area.

There are two different Community Plans—Alternative 1 is environmental and residential friendly and Alternative 2 is in support of more heavy industrial business and the elimination of homes and residents. The Barrio Logan Community Plan Alternative 1 calls for a more environmental and residentially friendly community. The Community Plan has been in discussion for more than five years. The City Planning department is in support of Alternative 1.

At the June San Diego City Council subcommittee for Land Use and Housing there was lobbying by the industrial community supporting more industrial land use and less residential in Barrio Logan. What was shocking to me was their total disrespect for the residents. One speaker was quoted as saying, "I just do not understand why they want to live there..." Another speaker was quoted as saying, "We want the land from Sicard all the way to Wabash for heavy industrial use."

After that meeting I drove through the area that is being targeted by Alternative 2. I was appalled to think that all of the old time Barrio Logan residents living in older historical homes are being targeted for elimination. What complicates this matter even more is the fact that the San Diego Historical Resources Board at its May meeting approved a haphazard incomplete historical survey of Barrio Logan—which I objected to. (Apparently there was an incident that occurred the day the survey was to begin which frightened those conducting the survey so they scaled there effort down to a cursory effort that was less than professional and called it a cultural resource survey.) A complete historical survey would have identified many of the homes in this area as cultural resources worthy of preservation.

At present there is another big push to invalidate the last five years of work. Besides the lobbyist for those in support of Alternative 2- they have hired Southwest Strategies as their clients to specifically stir the pot in favor of Alternative 2. There is also a new organization called "Que Viva Barrio Logan" to support Alternative 2. The flier that they are posting around the community says, "...support a healthier community by supporting Alternative 2."

In conversation with a Southwest Strategies employee today he informed me that he is advocating for Alternative 2 because it is best for the community. My response was, "No you are supporting it because they are paying you to do so. You do not live in my community. My family has lived in Logan Heights for more than 100 years and Scenario 2 is not the best plan for my community."

Please contact your City Council representative and ask them to support Barrio Logan Community Plan Alternative 1 for a livable environmental friendly plan for Barrio Logan. 



P.S. Now that Chicano Park and the Chicano Park Monumental Murals are listed on the National Register the surrounding community-Barrio Logan-should also maintain what's left of its integrity as a local historic community."

"The Better Barrio" – A three-part blog series highlighting a time when Logan Heights flourished and enriched all of San Diego.

The community of Barrio Logan, once known as Logan Heights, is one of San Diego's oldest neighborhoods, rich in history and stories to tell; stories of a time when Interstate 5 did not exist, the community was diverse, the small business economy thrived and legends left their mark.
While today we fight to relocate industrial businesses and repair poor air quality in Barrio Logan, it helps to remember all the good that exists in our community and what our neighborhood has done for San Diego.

A legend worth mentioning is Helen Marston, founder of San Diego's Neighborhood House which served as a settlement house for the Mexican community for nearly sixty years and continues to provide service to various San Diego communities today. This house served as a place families could go for help with common problems, engaging community programs, to meet their neighbors and gain a sense of family and community pride.

Neighborhood House Story Time - 1930s

For six decades Helen turned the Neighborhood House into a prominent San Diego establishment focused on working with community members dealing with the pressing issues of the time, including public health, education, and Americanization. Helen devoted herself to her community and the Neighborhood House while capitalizing on her journalism skills to disprove Latino prejudices as well. In 1920 her article, "Mexican Traits", was published in a well-known publication. The article explained the work of the Neighborhood House and the Latino families she interacted with on a daily basis. Her writings and the Neighborhood House gave Barrio Logan and our surrounding communities an understanding and welcoming place where neighbors could meet and overcome obstacles of the time, together.

Barrio Logan has a chance to restore this togetherness and neighborhood unity once again. We support Alternative 1 for Barrio Logan's Community Plan Update; to give community members an opportunity to build healthy neighborhoods and make positive, long-lasting changes for the betterment of the community - like Helen did.

Please sign our letter to support Alternative 1 and a promising future for Barrio Logan.

You can read more about Helen's life of activism here

(Neighborhood House Association is an independent 501 (c) 3 organization and does not participate or endorse attempts for lobbying or political activities.)

EHC recently wrote a piece on why Barrio Logan needs Alternative 1 to restore the neighborhood to a safe, healthy and livable community. It was published in the UT San Diego on August 21, 2013. Please read the article below and sign our letter to support Alternative 1!


By Georgette Gomez, Rudolph Pimentel & Albert Dueñas.

What do you love about your neighborhood? Large parks. Local businesses. Well-maintained streets. Children playing outside. Clean air.

These seemingly obvious characteristics, which we expect in a livable community that we call home, aren't universal qualities shared by all San Diego communities. For instance, Barrio Logan's striking feature is land uses mixed together in a way not seen elsewhere in the city. Industries, homes, schools, auto body shops, recycling yards, stores, and parks share the same compact space, wedged between the I-5 freeway and the waterfront industries bordering San Diego Bay south of the Convention Center.

This raises concerns about air quality.

"I can never open the windows in the apartment, because my children are constantly sick. The little one, if we don't take care of her, she is going to develop asthma," Barrio Logan resident Estela Lopez told a reporter. "The doctor gave us a breathing machine for her. That's why the windows are shut, so she can breathe clean air."

Children in Barrio Logan have almost 2.5 times the asthma hospitalization rate as the county average. Unfortunately, that's striking. This year the state of California confirmed that Barrio Logan is a pollution hot spot and that the community ranks in the top 5 percent of the most vulnerable areas in the entire state.

Thankfully, community members, property owners and businesses have actively engaged in a five-year planning process to bring a new community plan to Barrio Logan, called Barrio Logan Community Plan Update Alternative 1. Heading to the City Council in September, this stakeholder-approved plan will end Barrio Logan's unhealthy mix of homes and schools next to polluting industries and begin properly zoned planning that will bring San Diego another livable community with a strong economy.

This is why the San Diego Planning Commission unanimously supported Alternative 1, which creates a necessary buffer between industrial uses and homes to allow our important maritime industry to thrive and also give mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and grandchildren a healthy place to call home.

Alternative 1's buffer zone puts an end to today's deadly mix of polluters and homes by preventing residential development in the buffer area but allowing maritime-supporting businesses and parking structures, another much-needed community amenity to support the shipyard industries along the bayfront. This has the dual benefit of protecting the residents by not allowing industrial uses near homes, parks and families. This key element also differentiates Alternative 1 from the other option, which would allow industrial uses within the buffer zone and also industrial development within 50 feet of homes.

The buffer zone between streets where young children play and spots where industries use toxic chemicals works in conjunction with the creation of a heavy industrial zone. Alternative 1 calls for this industrial park to centralize the maritime-industrial operations that support industries on the waterfront, such as welding shops, refinishers, ship repair support, and other port-related industries that will be grandfathered into the fabric of the neighborhood.

According to the environmental impact report for this project, the buffer zone and industrial park combination in Alternative 1 will contribute to a projected increase in employment from just over 10,000 jobs to nearly 15,000. This 47 percent increase will occur because more acreage is dedicated to industrial, commercial, retail and maritime support. And this industrial park is located away from schools and homes — a striking feature people expect in a healthy community.

Imagine the beauty of an economically secure Barrio Logan where the massive industries support the local community with a thoughtful buffer zone, a concentrated industrial park and a new parking structure for its thousands of employees.

Barrio Logan's daunting profile of pollution sources and vulnerability requires active, informed residents and comprehensive policy solutions, starting with reform of land use. The good news is that the stakeholder committee overwhelmingly supported Alternative 1 — which will finally address several of Barrio Logan's most pressing problems: separation of incompatible land uses; provision of more affordable housing; designation of parking areas for the large industrial workforce; and substantial conservation of industrial land uses to support the job-intensive waterfront.

That's something we can all love to see in Barrio Logan.


Gomez is associate director of Environmental Health Coalition; Pimental, a Barrio Logan business owner, and Dueñas, a Barrio Logan property owner, are members of the Barrio Logan Community Update Plan Stakeholder Group.