Old Town National City is making history. For decades, residents have struggled with pollution from local auto body shops operating too close to homes and schools. Children’s emergency room visits for asthma have become disproportionately high in the neighborhood, nearly doubling the county average in 2012. In 2010, the people of National City united to guide the Westside Specific Plan; Old Town National City’s plan for a future of healthy communities.

Auto body shops, while often too close to homes, parks and schools, provide well paying jobs for the neighborhood and stimulate the local economy. With an innovative approach and commitment to healthy neighborhoods,  a win-win situation was born.

The idea is a designated area, away from residential areas, where autobody shops can continue local operations while minimizing pollution in the neighborhood. This “small business incubator” is known as a Green Industrial Auto Park and it turns empty, unused land into sustainable areas for auto body shops to flourish.


With a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EHC worked with Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors to conduct a yearlong study analyzing whether a Green Industrial Auto Body Park in National City was possible. The study considered perspectives from landowners, business owners and residents as well as investigated brownfield sites and researched private and public funding sources.


What did the study show? It showed that a Green Industrial Auto Park was wholly feasible for National City.

Beaming with excitement, we presented the findings to the City Council in National City on May 19, 2015, where Council directed City staff to return with recommendations for next steps.

Policy advocate Carolina Martinez said, “Auto body shops are important to the local economy, but right now they’re too close to our homes and schools. This study shows we can group auto shops together in an environmentally conscious park to reduce harmful health impacts on residents. It shows National City can lead with bold solutions for both community health and local economic growth. It’s a creative win-win for everyone.”

Old Town National City residents continue to inspire us with their commitment to making their community a healthier place to live. This solution brings us one step closer to making history and fulfilling National City’s vision for both a healthy neighborhood and a thriving economy.

To read the study and learn more about Old Town National City, please click here