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A view of the NASSCO shipyards from Barrio Logan. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

This week, Voice of San Diego is examining so-called San Diego Specials – a term coined by now-Mayor Todd Gloria to refer to long-running civic conundrums that have festered without resolution as a result of a lack of leadership and vision. Often, these are relatively small-scale challenges that other cities (or even other San Diego communities) have long since solved.

Apart from this series, we’re taking the week to reset and work on long-term projects. The Morning Report will resume its normal form next week.

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This should be a simple problem to solve in Barrio Logan. The neighborhood’s zoning laws allow industrial businesses to open next door to homes. But people don’t want to raise their families next to such clanking, dusty and smelling neighbors. Indeed, this reality doesn’t exist anywhere else in San Diego. So why doesn’t the city just stop allowing that to happen?

MacKenzie Elmer unwraps the history of, arguably, the city’s most maligned and squeezed neighborhood and its inability to get a blueprint for future growth, called a community plan, across the finish line.

Now residents and industries are deeply embedded in the fabric of this community. Trying to parse those fabrics apart and weave a new zoning map that pleases everyone has proven to be no simple task, especially when politics gets involved – and it has upended a map everyone agreed on before.

Ultimately what cannot be ignored is that Barrio Logan is one of San Diego’s most diverse and polluted neighborhoods, the “poster child of environmental racism,” as one advocate put it.

A new plan is advancing, this time without opposition from the shipbuilding industry that stymied previous efforts.

“Ultimately, generations of San Diegans who watched the Barrio Logan neighborhood be sliced and diced by industry and government projects over generations are hopeful the new plan will stick,” Elmer writes.

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