In the San Diego region, polluting industries, freeways, ports, and truck routes are concentrated in low-income communities of color – right alongside homes and schools – exposing residents to harmful levels of pollution that cause chronic health conditions.
In addition to high rates of pollution, these communities experience a lack of affordable housing and limited access to public transit, green spaces, and healthy food. This is caused by racist community planning decisions that prioritize corporate interests over the health and wellbeing of low-income communities of color.
People have a right to live in safe and clean neighborhoods where breathing doesn’t make them sick. Children should be able to play in parks and learn in schools that are far from toxic industries and polluting highways.
Residents should be an integral part of planning the future of their neighborhoods. EHC works to empower residents in the Portside communities of Barrio Logan and Westside National City to organize and fight for safe, healthy, and livable neighborhoods that are free from polluting industries, highways, and heavy-duty trucks.
Community Leader Fighting Back
Silvia Calzada, a long-time National City resident, was diagnosed with asthma seven years ago. During her time in National City, she lived next to paint shops, and heavy-duty diesel trucks speeding through her neighborhood. After attending an EHC meeting, she learned the pollution from the diesel trucks and toxic industrial businesses in her neighborhood was making her asthma worse.
Since then, Silvia has been actively involved in the National City Community Action Team. She helps with the Paradise Community Garden and shares her story with decision-makers, elected officials, and the press to advocate for a cleaner community without toxic industry next to homes and schools, and polluting trucks rolling down her streets.
Did You Know?
Barrio Logan and National City have some of the highest levels of diesel pollution in the San Diego region, according to CalEnviroScreen.
Children in Portside communities have more than double the rate of asthma emergency room visits than San Diego County as a whole
Logan only has about 5% tree covering. According to experts, these areas should have at least 32% to protect residents from extreme heat
EHC impacts and victories:
No New Polluting Industry, Move the Old
EHC and community members worked to pass an ordinance that prevents more polluting businesses from establishing on the Westside and relocating those that were already there.. The ordinance, passed in 2006, allowed the progressive phase-out of polluting businesses from the Westside. This is known as amortization.
Old Town Gets a Community Friendly Plan
After EHC rallied community activists and residents, the National City Council approved the Westside Specific Plan. This plan prioritized green areas and affordable housing while preventing more toxic businesses from opening in the area.
Protecting National City’s Westside
EHC and community members successfully advocated for the City Council to revise the 24th Street Transit Oriented Development Overlay plan to ensure it does not push long-term residents out of their homes or allow developers to build housing near toxic businesses.