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Jesus Morazán moved into the Barrio Logan house on the corner of Boston Avenue and 27th Street 13 years ago, when his children were still toddlers. He and his wife keep a tidy home. A white iron gate guards the driveway and the small front lawn is manicured and green. Pink flowers accentuate it.

And the neighborhood? Well, his neighbor is not exactly a paragon of cleanliness. Just over a side fence, his neighbor’s yard is piled high with bottles and cans, scrap metal and boxes. Rats nestle there, and sometimes find their way into Morazán’s yard. His neighbor is the IMS recycling facility.

But Morazán doesn’t complain too much. The facility was there when he moved in, and the rent is good. He covers his car so its paint won’t scratch from the ground glass in the air. Sometimes, though, he does worry about his two teenaged children’s lungs from breathing it in. “They’re okay right now,” he said.

Morazán lives on one of roughly 30 blocks in Barrio Logan where residential and industrial uses co-exist, as they have done for decades, to the chagrin of social and environmental activists and the resignation of residents. On some blocks, industry predates homes, and in others, the reverse is true.

As the Planning Department and a local stakeholder committee undertake an update of the neighborhood’s community plan through next year, the infamous land-use designations that have allowed what are known as incompatible uses, and that have been the objects of decades of local activism, will finally be addressed. Over the long term, the community plan is designed to eliminate such coexistence.

Land use is just one of many elements of the neighborhood’s community plan, which will also address traffic flows, commerce, cultural and historical resources and environmental impacts. But for resident activists as well as land and industrial business owners, it is among the most important because of what it means for their respective futures in a community to which both sides lay claims.

But how, exactly, will the community plan do away with these incompatible uses?

A community plan guides a neighborhood’s future development, and delineates the uses for all of a neighborhood’s land. Barrio Logan’s was last updated in 1978.

The 31-year-old plan tried to bring some order to otherwise chaotic land-use designations that permitted mixed uses across the board. It defined some sections as industrial or residential, but mostly continued to permit mixed use on a parcel-by-parcel basis in what is today the heart of Barrio Logan’s residential community.

Whereas most community plans segregate high impact land uses — like industrial — from low impact ones, the 1978 Barrio Logan plan had to contend with the realities of entrenched mixed-use there, the product of industry’s mid-century proliferation to complement expanding naval and port operations nearby.

“Those uses have been there well before 1978, said Lara Gates, the city’s current community plan update manager. “The 1978 plan tried to work to have all these uses get along.”

In 1982, the Barrio Logan Planned District Ordinance created four sub-districts within the neighborhood. Two of them classified sections of the neighborhood as wholly industrial or residential. The other two sub-districts permitted both uses, but each emphasized one of the two.

That ordinance still dictates neighborhood zoning. The residential sub-district was the smallest of the four. It is the reason there is only one four block stretch in the entire neighborhood — along Boston Avenue — that lacks an industrial facility.

Barrio Logan’s community plan will propose revised and uniform land use categories across the neighborhood.

Where mixed use is currently allowed, a single land use designation will zone clusters of blocks as either residential, commercial, or industrial. Industrial facilities currently operating in sections redefined as residential sections will be allowed to stay until they shut down and remain closed for at least two years. If they lapse, a new industrial facility will be prohibited and the zoning will revert to a residential use.

Similar guidelines will clear residential homes from areas newly zoned for industrial or commercial uses.

Over decades, the community plan foresees a neighborhood with more clearly defined borders between areas used for industrial and commercial purposes, and those where people live.

Relations between opposing interests on the stakeholder committee have not been entirely rosy. Some have criticized well known activist Rachael Ortiz as divisive and called for her removal. But members generally accept that mixed use will be eliminated over time.

And while that is welcome news for neighborhood activists and residents concerned with the long-term health effects of living next to a recycling facility, industry operators and some land owners are concerned that the rezoning will limit their opportunities to expand.

After the rezoning, the mixed use sections will result in a net elimination of land open to new industry, said Chris Wahl, a consultant from the firm Southwest Strategies, which organized business and landowners in Barrio Logan as the Smart Growth Coalition to advocate for business interests throughout the update process.

“The concern that our stakeholders have is that if they’re rezoned, they’re going to have no place to go,” Wahl said. The high ratio of employees to residents in Barrio Logan, he said, makes his case for the importance of retaining robust business activity in the neighborhood.

The coalition is presenting changes to the Planning Department’s proposed land use map, and will ask that the industrial-zoned sections be expanded, Wahl said. Land owners will also advocate for higher density residential uses, which will allow greater financial returns on their land investments.

Georgette Gomez, a committee member from the Environmental Health Coalition, which has a history of environmental activism in Barrio Logan, said the notion that residents oppose industry writ large is false.

“There seems to be a misrepresentation of what our purpose is. We are trying to identify better uses that are not going to continue impacting the health and safety of the community,” she said.

“At the same time, keeping in mind that the jobs are important, we can look at a better way of balancing the two interests,” she said.

Please contact Adrian Florido directly at adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adrianflorido. And set the tone of the debate with a letter to the editor.

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