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Neighborhood polluted by traffic and industrial facilities scores major victory: 'We need this urgently'

"This update is long overdue."

"This update is long overdue."

Photo Credit: iStock

In a huge win for residents and environmental activists, San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood is set to start on an eco-friendly transformation with the approval of a new community plan after two years of negotiating with state regulators, according to KPBS.

After facing challenges like heavy traffic and industrial pollution, the thriving Chicano cultural hub is seeing its first community plan update in over 40 years, which is aimed at creating a healthier living environment for its residents.

One significant change includes the creation of a 65-acre buffer zone that will separate residential areas from heavy industry taking place on the waterfront, reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Per KPBS, this helps address decades-long debates over pollution and public health since neighborhood rezoning in the mid-1900s.

In fact, Barrio Logan has been reported as one of the most pollution-burdened communities and has a higher asthma rate than most other areas in California, according to Intersectional Health Project San Diego

Locals who have dealt with diesel exhaust and pollution-related health complications can now look forward to a future where industrial businesses will be distanced from their homes.

The plan includes more protection for renters, requirements for affordable housing, and goals for adding more green spaces and improving public transportation, per KPBS. 

Green spaces act as nature's air purifiers, helping to reduce pollution and clean up the air we breathe by absorbing pollutants and producing oxygen. Offering better options for public transportation means fewer cars on the road, which leads to less harmful carbon pollution released into our atmosphere — benefiting the community and the Earth. 

While the new plan initially applied to future developments, additional steps may be underway to help reinforce changes. 

KPBS reported in December that the city was expected to vote this month on a housing laws package that, if passed, would set a 15-year timeline for existing businesses to align with the updated plan. As of Jan. 9, it appeared that the city council approved amended language on this "Housing Action Package 2.0." 

"We've worked very hard to get it to this point," Julie Corrales, a policy advocate for the Environmental Health Coalition and chair of the Barrio Logan Community Planning Group, stated at a San Diego City Council forum, per KPBS. "We need this urgently."

"This update [to Barrio Logan's planning] is long overdue and will help put an end to the environmental racism residents have faced for generations," Diane Takvorian, the executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition, said in a statement in 2021. 

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