You have probably heard of Alternative 1, but what exactly is it? What does it mean for Barrio Logan, and why should the rest of San Diego care?

The community of Barrio Logan has one of the oldest existing community plans, last updated in 1979. This outdated plan has led to the development of a toxic environment; unhealthy and unsafe for the community. Neighborhood safety, health and quality of life are compromised by the massive polluting industries operating next door to houses, parks and schools. Barrio Logan has high rates of asthma hospitalization; a level three times the County's average. The intermingling of industries and neighborhoods is clearly not the safiest nor healthiest for children and families, and this is exactly why Alternative 1 was born.

Kids Playing Outside 1

Alternative 1 is the community proposed alternative to the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update to address the environmental injustice placed in our neighborhood. While toxic industries impact the community wellbeing, this plan does not propose to kick them out but to designate a heavy industrial zone away from homes and schools. 

Alternative 1 also recommends:

  • Clear separation of industrial and residential zones
  • Small scale development from residential to commercial
  • Sustainable development
  • Development of maritime supporting business
  • An exclusive, heavy industrial area
  • A parking structure that will serve the workers at the working waterfront
  • Most importantly: A safe place to live, work and play

For five-years, the City of San Diego has facilitated a community-involved process to update to the Barrio Logan community plan, which the City Council will hear on September 17th. From that process came Alternative 1, and the future of Barrio Logan will be determined by a vote.

But we, the community, can make our voice heard before City Council votes. We strongly urge supporters to sign our letter in support of Alternative 1. This plan was supported by the majority of the stakeholders of the community plan update, as well as a unanimous support by the Planning Commission.

David Alvarez Alternative 1

Why should the rest of San Diego care? 

Because these are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles and best friends just asking to live in a toxic-free neighborhood - something most communities never have to experience or fight for. Think about how much you love your clean air, nice parks and safe streets. What would you want for your mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and best friends?

You can watch Georgette Gomez, associate director of toxic-free neighborhoods, speak more about Alternative 1 here.


The answer may be yes. A recent study revealed four popular brands of salsa contain unsafe levels of lead. 

The four salsas to avoid are:

El Pato Salsa Picante
Salsa Habanera
Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero
Bufalo Salsa Clasica

The FDA is working with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) to determine a standard for lead in salsas. UNLV has been one of our strongest allies in the lead in candy battle.

In the meantime, avoid eating these salsas. Our Latino community, including children, eat El Pato Salsa Picante in chilaquiles and enchiladas and Bufalo Salsa Clasica with popcorn and snacks.

Remember to pay attention when buying salsa and avoid these four. EHC will post updates to help keep you, your children and your family safe from lead-poisoning.  

Read more about lead in salsa here.

GEGJ&SC CEC-CPUC 7-15-13.jpg largeOn Monday, July 15, EHC's Green Energy/Green Jobs staff and community members made the trek to Los Angeles to ask the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission for a cleaner energy future.

The hearing was jointly held on Southern California's energy future following the permanent closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). We were joined by our allies at Sierra Club and Communities for a Better Environment.

The message we heard from our state agencies and utilities was clear-- they want to stick to their old ways of building dirty gas plants, no matter the cost to our health, our environment, our climate, and our future.

We're counting on you to help us continue pushing for a healthier, smarter energy future!

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. 

To find out how you can support Barrio Logan's long overdue basic environmental rights, sign up for our email newsletters and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.   

Kids Playing Outside 3As the days get warmer, your kids and your inner child will head outside to enjoy the outdoors! Do you know if your play area is safe for your family? 

Playing outside is great fun and exercise, but dirt around older homes can contain lead. Unfortunately, lead was used in gasoline many years ago and can now be found along our curbs and yards - especially homes near freeways. 

Lead is a heavy metal and a poison to the human body; It is the #1 environmental health threat impacting children under the age of six. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, hyperactivity, learning disability, and aggressive behavior. Without an identifiable smell or taste, it is up to us to take precautions to protect ourselves.

Here are some tips to keep the kiddos happy and safe!

  • Cover bare soil with grass, mulch, wood chips, stones, bark or gravel to avoid exposure to lead, which may be in the soil.
  • If you have bare soil, it's time to do some planting!
  • If you are planning on making home improvements to the exterior of your house (i.e. repainting), make sure you or your contractor use lead-safe work practices. This includes: safely containing any dust, thus avoiding lead contaminated dust from filtering into indoor of your home. For more information about lead-safe work practices, contact EHC.
  • If you are at a new play area and you do not know if the bare soil is contaminated, tell your kids to stick to the #1 Play Rule: Play in the grass, not in the dirt!
  • When it is time to go inside your home, ask your children to remove their shoes or wipe them off at the doormat.
  • When heading outside to play, be sure to turn off all of your household lights to save energy, save money, and help our planet!