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Sometime in mid-2013, the City Council could approve the Barrio Logan community update, making it the first San Diego neighborhood to reach that point since the city overhauled its approach to growth and development in 2008.

The current Barrio Logan community plan was drafted in 1978, four years after artists began painting the Chicano Park murals, and explicitly says it was intended to define the area’s land use through 1995. Under that plan, properties zoned for industrial use and those marked for single- or multi-family housing border one another, often within a single block.

One of the goals of the community plan update is to untangle the neighborhood’s existing block-by-block mix of land uses to create a neighborhood that appeases both residents and the heavy industry, maritime economy that also resides there.

Most communities don’t face such incompatible zoning complications, but other issues facing Barrio Logan as it updates its blueprint for future growth echo the land-use decisions facing other communities and the city as a whole.

San Diego signals its development and growth future in its general plan, an outline of its goals and policies for urban design, economic growth, public facilities, city services, recreation, conservation and preservation. Those goals are then implemented on a neighborhood level through the city’s 47 community plans.

No communities have updated their own plans since the release of the 2008 general plan, which championed a “city of villages” outlook for San Diego: accommodating increased population growth in dense, transit-oriented and walkable neighborhoods.

Bound by downtown San Diego to the north and National City to the south, Barrio Logan is precisely the type of neighborhood expected to increase density moving forward.

Joe LaCava, chairman of San Diego’s Community Planners Committee, said Barrio Logan’s update is driven by developer pressures and community dissatisfaction.

“This conflict between residential, maritime industry and the commercial property owners, that’s going to be really interesting,” he said. “That’s a very difficult conversation, because there is just no easy answer to that. There are too many uses in too small of an area, and we seem to all agree it isn’t how we want our communities to be, but who’s going to give? Are we going to tear down homes to create [an industrial] buffer? Or are we going to get rid of what little maritime-oriented industry that we have that works next to the active port? That’s a very difficult conversation.”

And while it’s a battle that’s been going on for years, it’s one that’s set to get much more specific very soon.

A consultant has completed a report on the environmental effect of the current proposed update and its primary alternative. The report is going to be released to the public for a 45-day comment period on Jan. 4.

At the end of that comment period, the environmental consultant and city staff will convene to draft the new community plan — including new zoning regulations, a plan to finance public facilities in the area and the environmental report — to go before the planning commission and eventually the City Council. After a City Council decision the entire plan would be subject to a California Coastal Commission review.

The City Council decision is currently set for July 2013. The Coastal Commission’s decision is expected to stretch into 2015, according to a recent report to the planning commission by the development services department.

Stakeholders in Barrio Logan, including renters, home owners, business owners, industry members and representatives from housing, arts, social services and environmental nonprofits, have been engaged in complex give-and-take negotiations over their community for years, and have reduced the remaining decisions to a few areas.

In the coming months we plan to focus on the Barrio Logan update in detail, monitoring decisions as they’re made and putting them in context as they attempt to reshape the existing community.

We’ll also peek in on some of the other areas going through the same process — Otay Mesa, Ocean Beach, Old Town-Midway-Pacific Highway, Grantville, Southeast, Uptown-North Park-Golden Hill and San Ysidro. If you live, work or spend time in those areas, let us know what questions and issues are important to you.

I’m Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at or 619.325.0529 and follow me on Twitter

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Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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