Nov. 27 2013 09:43 AM

Candidate for mayor is neck-deep in the Barrio Logan plan flap

Kevin Faulconer
Photo by David Rolland

Let's start with a necessary jab at San Diego City Councilmember and candidate for mayor David Alvarez.

A few weeks before the Nov. 19 primary election, Alvarez sent out a statement saying, "Out of town interests and a politician running for Mayor of San Diego are teaming up to threaten the recently approved Barrio Logan Community Plan update which would create jobs and improve the health and quality of life of Barrio Logan."

By not specifically calling out City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, Alvarez's opponent in the upcoming runoff election, Alvarez essentially gave Faulconer a pass on his major role in the effort to overturn the landmark update of the Barrio Logan Community Plan, which was passed by the City Council at the end of good-faith negotiations and a proper Democratic process.

Indeed, Faulconer pretty much got a free pass on every issue as the primary campaign became a race between Democrats Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher for the second spot in the two-man runoff. It was conceded that Faulconer, the only high-profile Republican running for mayor, would easily secure the first spot.

We hope that Alvarez is done giving Faulconer a free ride on Barrio Logan because Faulconer is neck-deep in the controversy.

As detailed in Joshua Emerson Smith's news story here, people who have been getting paid to collect signatures to place on the ballot a referendum that would overturn the Barrio Logan plan update have lied to potential petition signers about the impacts of the update. They've told people that the Navy will pull out of San Diego, that the plan will replace the shipyards with condos and that tens of thousands of jobs will be lost—none of which is true. This wasn't simply one signature gatherer gone rogue; there have been numerous documented cases of blatant lying. We've seen multiple videos of the liars doing their thing.

Faulconer opposed the plan update and immediately hitched his campaign wagon to the effort to get a referendum on the ballot. He initially lied himself, stating that the plan update would kill 46,000 maritime jobs. He's stopped saying that—because it's false—but the damage of his disinformation, coupled with the lies being told by the signature gatherers, has been done. It's likely that the only way to stop the referendum is for Coast Law Group and Environmental Health Coalition to succeed in proving election fraud.

We asked Faulconer to comment on the obvious pattern of lies, but he declined, instead providing us with a written statement that continues the rhetoric that the plan update is a job killer and expresses hope that the court won't get in the referendum's way.

Faulconer must be held accountable. Not only did he express unequivocal support for the referendum; he even went out and collected signatures himself as a campaign stunt. But also, CityBeat's Kelly Davis analyzed campaign-finance disclosures and found that Faulconer has raked in at least $36,650 from people involved in shipyards in San Diego, the industry that's bankrolling the referendum campaign. 

Reporters must press Faulconer on the deceitful referendum process whenever he attempts to use it to his advantage in the race for mayor. He bought in to it, so he owns it.

The only controversial aspect of the wide-ranging plan update is a small buffer zone inside which no new ship-repair-related businesses can open without getting a conditional-use permit and no such existing business can expand by more than 20 percent without getting that permit. That's pretty much it. No new housing can be built in the zone or anywhere closer to the waterfront. Plan op ponents simply believe that the buffer zone will create a residential-serving commercial area that will allow residents to get comfortable, and they'll eventually start complaining about the shipyards.

Meanwhile, the point of the plan update was to provide additional relief to residents who've long been coping with air pollution that's so bad that children in Barrio Logan are hospitalied for asthma at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rest of the population.

If a referendum reaches the ballot, that genuine, true, real-life information will surely be drowned out by the distortions coming from the far-better-financed other side.

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