EHC's current efforts in South San Diego

Community Planning – insure that the Bayfront Master Plan is implemented

Green Energy/Green Jobs – make certain that the bayfront development utilizes the maximum renewable energy and the highest green building standards 


Prior to the 1900s, San Diego Bay was a fertile, shallow bay supporting great biodiversity in its open water, salt marshes and mud flats. Dredging and filling of the Bay, along with development have eliminated over 90% of the mudflats and 78% of the salt marshes. Those that remain are found mostly in South San Diego Bay.

sbwildlife refugeMost of the land surrounding San Diego Bay is controlled by the San Diego Unified Port District or the U.S. military. The last remaining piece of privately owned bayfront property was 125 acres between the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and a marina/commercial development on Port controlled land to the South. When developers proposed dense commercial and residential development at this site, environmentalists and South Bay residents objected.

Sweetwater Marsh Unit of SDNWR

In the late 1970s/early 1980s two projects were proposed that would severely threaten these remaining wetlands habitats: a combined highway/flood control channel along the Sweetwater River that separates National City and Chula Vista, and construction of a 440-room hotel at Gunpowder Point along with high rise residential complexes on the D-Street Fill.

A multi-year legal battle, led by the Sierra Club and League for Coastal Protection, ensued. In 1987 a District Court judge issued a permanent injunction to stop all work, and in 1988 the 315.8-acre Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge was created. It is now home to the Chula Vista Nature Center.

South San Diego Bay Unit of SDNWR: The water and land at the far south of the Bay was still unprotected

Pollution Burden

Pollution in South San Diego Bay has come from the South Bay Power Plant, bayside industries such as Rohr Industries, the nearby Interstate 5, and urban runoff.

Relationships to other EHC Efforts

Regional Transportation

San Diego Port District

San Diego Bay

SBPowerPlant Dirty Energy 940From 1960 until decommissioned in 2010, the South Bay Power Plant’s four generators polluted South San Diego Bay and emitted tons of toxic and greenhouse gases.

Environmental Health Coalition's concern started with the impacts of the power plant on San Diego Bay, but expanded to include air pollution and development of a sustainable energy policy. In 2001, the San Diego Bay Council, comprised of Environmental Health Coalition and six other non-profit organizations, published Deadly Power, A case for eliminating the impacts of the South Bay Power Plant on San Diego Bay and ensuring better environmental options for the San Diego/Tijuana region.

It took another ten years of community organizing and advocacy before we reached the goal of shutting down the power plant.

Current Issues – cleanup and reuse

The South Bay Power Plant occupies 115 acres of bayfront property owned by the Port of San Diego in the City of Chula Vista. Now comes the task of tearing down the 175-foot structure, cleaning up the contamination and restoring the land for future use.  

Chula Vista's Bayfront Master Plan includes this site.