Edgy, affordable neighborhoods attract artists. Artists make things hipper and, as the age-old gentrification story goes, development soon follows.

Many Barrio Logan artists are aware of the role they play in changing the neighborhood, but rather than passively letting the cycle play out, some have decided to take a more active role.

Voice of the Year

At least two murals with messages encouraging San Diegans to vote against the Chargers’ downtown stadium bid popped up on walls in Barrio Logan this summer, and an entire art exhibition featuring anti-stadium art was staged at a Barrio Logan gallery.

Artists like muralist Mario Torero, Hector Villegas and Junco Canché joined the voices of opposition to the stadium, but used the debate as an in to talk about ongoing gentrification of the mostly working-class, Latino neighborhood.

They argued that the wrong kind of development in and around Barrio Logan would jack up real estate prices, effectively killing the art scene blossoming there and displacing too many of the community’s longtime residents.

At the same time, another group of artists actually started building the types of redevelopment projects and businesses they want to see more of, showing the developers eyeballing the neighborhood and the rest of San Diego how they’d like to see Barrio Logan take shape.

Barrio Logan remains a working-class neighborhood that’s watching development get closer and closer as it moves across the East Village. But instead of waiting, this year artists and residents began showing the city the way they want their neighborhood to grow.

This is part of our Voice of the Year package, profiling the people who drove the biggest conversations in San Diego this year.

Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. She also managed VOSD’s podcasts and covered...

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