April 15 2015 12:10 PM

The Port wants to increase Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal cargo by 500 percent

Photo courtesy of PortofSanDiego.org

Barrio Logan is seemingly always in the crosshairs. The historically marginalized neighborhood is now battling the San Diego Unified Port District on the environmental impact of its latest Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal (TAMT) Redevelopment Plan.

The plan calls for updating the 96-acre site to increase cargo loads by as much as 400 to 500 percent. Phase one would call for the demolition of two large, unusable transit sheds near the edge of the property and increase rail lines throughout the terminal. The second phase is the cause of more concern. It redesigns the terminal to increase its capacity and would result in additional loads of cargo being hauled through the streets of Barrio Logan and National City.

The port held its second public scoping meeting last week. “It’s an opportunity for cargo growth as long as it is redeveloped and modernized,” said Aimee Heim, public policy manager for the port.

Environmental Health Coalition policy advocate Kayla Race said that if this plan is going to happen, it needs to be done right.

“If the port is going to invest in redeveloping the terminal, we want them to use the cleanest and safest technologies for trucks, cranes and other equipment,” Race said.

Working-class Barrio Logan is a largely Latino neighborhood with a long history of fighting the city of San Diego and the port over polluting industrial businesses and truck traffic. Last June, residents were crestfallen after Barrio Logan’s community plan, which addressed concerns about the close proximity of homes to industrial facilities, was voted down in a referendum.

In an initial study of the TAMT plan, ICF International, a policy-consulting firm hired by the port, cited a laundry list of potentially significant environmental impacts, including air quality, noise, hazardous materials (much of the soil in the terminal contains hydrocarbons and semi-volatile organic compounds) and water quality. Also, the demolition, construction and increased traffic will occur within a quarter-mile of Perkins Elementary School.

According to the latest map data by the California Communities Health Screening Tool (CalEnviro- Screen), Barrio Logan is included in a list of ZIP codes with the poorest air quality in the state, which may explain why it has one of the highest percentages of asthma-related hospital visits in the county.

“Barrio Logan is one of the heaviest polluted neighborhoods in the country,” said Brent Beltrán, a longtime community activist and Barrio Logan resident. “How is this fair?”

Carly can be reached at carlyn@sdcitybeat.com. Follow her on Twitter at @cnairnsf