Chapter 12: Barrio Logan and the Struggle to Preserve a Neighborhood

2. What is the public’s view of Barrio Logan?

References to the barrio in San Diego City official documents as well as in the main daily newspaper (The San Diego-Union Tribune) demonstrate that a highly stereotyped vision pervades.

They describe the barrio as a dangerous and apathetic space. In addition to San Diego policy-makers’ negative perceptions of the barrio, the main local written media, The San Diego Union-Tribune, draws a quasi exclusively dangerous portrait of the barrio. A coverage from 2000 to 2003 news articles accounts that over the 230 references to the barrio, 65% are constituted by short headlines relating:

  • violence,
  • crimes,
  • gang and drug–related activities.

The remaining 35% are long articles that describe the multiple risks present in that space, along predominantly negative lines. Different topics appear:

  • environmental hazards,
  • homeless issues,
  • education drop off, and
  • health problems.

The barrio is:

  • "a crime-ridden area",
  • the city's "poorest neighborhood",
  • "plagued by gang-related activities and drive-by-shootings."

In brief, it is a "ghetto". For instance, [Of] "over 42 homicides in the city during the period, 14 were in southeastern San Diego. Violence is just a part of life down here, always has been," stated a newspaper article that seemed to quote only one side of the story.

The only positive images of the barrio are cultural references, especially to

  • Mexican celebrations (5 de Mayo, Virgen de Guadalupe),
  • food traditions, and
  • the Chicano Park murals.

But even positive images recall internal problems of the barrio. As an example, an article stressed the role of local artists in the revitalization of the neighborhood but emphasized at the same time a lost battle : "Mario Torero restores a mural that he hopes will symbolize the rebirth of three San Diego inner–city neighborhoods. I thought the mural's poor condition reflected the mood of the community — neglected, old and tarnished."

All representations of the barrio and discourses about it are of importance because the struggle over the meaning and the boundaries of the barrio is also a struggle for power. Barrio Logan is thus similar to other barrios in terms of sociodemographic characteristics: it is a disenfranchised community defined by low–income and poor social, economic and political achievement. It suffers from the consequences of the City of San Diego's public policy choices.