A presentation by Jorge Gonzalez organizer for the Environmental Health Coalition in Barrio Logan.
Barrio Logan has some of the worst air quality in the the state of California. Its surrounded by freeways and is host to the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal of the port of San Diego and a major Navy facility. The Navy brings 40,000 cars in and out in a day. Truck pollution and unsafe traffic conditions have a large impact on residents. The Environmental Health Coalition has been working with neighborhood groups for many years to reduce truck impacts on the area. One part of the solution is to get trucks out of commercial and residential neighborhoods, reducing toxic exposures and making roads safer. Community organizing and participation was key in winning this policy measure and providing the surveys and advocacy to get it implemented.
Lightly Edited Transcript
With Q&A by Sara Zimmerman and Jess Clarke
Special thanks to Sara Zimmerman for arranging the recording of this presentation.
Jorge Gonzalez: I am a civic engagement organizer, (he/him/his). Prior to joining EHC (Environmental Health Coalition), I was working with PICO, the local chapter here in San Diego Organizing Project doing criminal justice reform. Then I came into EHC to do environmental justice work in April 2016 as a Barrio Logan organizer up until 2020 when I started a new position here at EHC as a civic engagement organizer.
Gonzalez: I came into Barrio Logan at a time where the momentum in Barrio Logan had sort of died, to some degree. Georgette had left the organization. There was no organizer on the ground for the past two years. At EHC back in 2005, there was a win around the truck resolution, and there was all these truck signs up in the neighborhood, so I assumed that it was all working as it should. [But in fact] I came into a community that was lacking in building leadership and building momentum and pushing for some of the key environmental justice issues that are still there in the neighborhood.
Georgette, before she left, she said, we had passed this truck ordinance that got us to get trucks from the main artery of Barrio Logan, which is Cesar Chavez Boulevard that has a nearby on-ramp and an exit ramp, an off-ramp. Trucks were using a straight shot from the terminal, 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, to the freeway, and they were able to create a truck resolution in 2005 that helped get trucks out of that specific route and re-route them to a more desirable way that would prevent them from coming through the neighborhood. That’s all I knew, so I came into this really thinking it’s been fixed. It’s a fixed issue. EHC wasn’t really bringing it up again, but in my conversations with community, it would come up once in a while.
It really took a whole different level of focus when we heard that the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal was going to go through an expansion. That really sounded the alarm. That was the red flag: more trucks into Barrio Logan. What infrastructure do we have?
I was the one to really start to wrap my head around this and try to figure out how our port advocacy had to match the local advocacy and how it was all interconnected.: the policy research that went behind it, the community research that I spearheaded, recommendations that would come out after our research, and some of the challenges that we were still dealing with, some of the challenges we did overcome, and how it went from a policy—from a truck resolution—to implementation.
Then where we’re at now, I want to give you guys a sense of, this is not perfect. It never ends, as you all know. We’ll talk about our next strategies that go along with improving this truck route and securing that these trucks are informed and aware of what the truck routes are and that there’s enforcement and all that good stuff.
Barrio Logan, if you’re not familiar with this community, it is surrounded by freeways and it has the port, 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, that has goods movement happening there. We have NASSCO and the Navy, the largest fabrication repairing operation in the whole Pacific. And we have the Navy that brings 40,000 cars in and out in a day, and in two work shifts. The Navy also works at NASSCO, so they also help some of the Navy personnel help repair these boats and so forth. It’s a big operation and it has a huge impact in the neighborhood, and it, of course, makes this community score in the top 5% of having the worst air quality in the state of California. Of course, you all know the correlation with that and the asthma impacts, and, as an organizer on the ground, I know how these statistics are real things. These are tangible issues and problems in our communities. I did a bunch of family home-to-home visits, dozens of them. When I first started doing this work, I gave myself the task, as the voter engagement coordinator, to follow up with these voters and did a bunch of home visits, and then I really got to see that this was pretty evident.
So 2005, EHC had one truck resolution. Georgette really led a lot of the effort there at the time and another organizer, Maria Moya. A lot has to do with the focus on Cesar Chavez, this corridor right here, simply because a lot of our residents lived around this neighborhood. There was affordable housing here. There’s a grocery store now, a marketplace. It’s very transitive, pedestrian transit here pretty heavily on a daily basis. You have a trolley station right at the end of Cesar Chavez and also right at the entrance and exit of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal. It was very clear that residents wanted to get trucks out of there. At the time, it was just back-to-back diesel trucks day and night. You can only imagine what that looked like.
The focus was very much there, and I think that, in itself, was both a bittersweet approach because it really took the burden of these trucks and diesel trucks that would come through our members’ streets and neighborhoods and also the idling that would happen, especially along Main Avenue where you had a Dole company truck right around here that was sort of its satellite location where they would load, unload, and then they would leave, and they were right in front of an apartment complex. That was really what spearheaded a lot of this. The families were not happy with the situation. Car accidents would always happen as trucks were backing up and hitting these cars and hearing at 3, 4 in the morning these trucks idling, and it was just not a good environment altogether, not even to think about that diesel and idle pollution, everything that comes with it.
In 2005, this resolution came about, so I started to look at this document, and I just mentioned these streets that are marked in red here. Where can trucks not go? What streets are prohibited? And of course, I realized that there was signage all over Barrio Logan. It didn’t really match what they had there. They never really removed the old signage that was around Barrio Logan. They never did that nitty gritty stuff. That could be petty, I guess, for the City or whoever runs that, or miscommunication amongst departments. There was just signage all over Barrio Logan—signage pollution, as the community would say—and it wasn’t doing anything. It was very confusing.
Zimmerman: Wait, Jorge. Just so I can understand that, are you saying that there was signage that might be confusing for the truck drivers, like “go this way” where they actually weren’t allowed to go?
Gonzalez: Yes, yes. For instance, there was, right here—it’s not even marked—on Beardsley, it said “truck route for all Logan.” Logan was a truck route essentially, apparently, and that might have been from before this 2005 truck resolution. Long story short, nobody was archiving this history. It was sort of lost between departments and the City, the traffic division and the different committees that we eventually started working with. I’ll bring them up in a minute. Anyhow, this was pretty much it. This paragraph that you see here was the truck resolution. All it did was put a bunch of truck signs up, but there was no enforcement whatsoever. Eventually we were like, someone has to be conducting this work. Someone has to be capturing, or there has to be some sort of oversight at the city-wide level.
We ended up finding out that in the San Diego Municipal Code Chapter, there was a specific section where there is “commercial vehicles prohibited, one ton” signs. That’s a whole different truck route because some of them are exempt. These commercial vehicles are exempt on most streets, but those that are one ton and more, essentially, there is prohibitions within land use truck routes that prohibit these types of large diesel trucks or fleets from coming in and using commercial streets. However, there wasn’t a place that it lived beyond the truck resolution that made no mentioning in this document, in the resolution, of any code enforcement or municipal code, which was problematic and we knew that there was already an issue with that. When the port expansion came to become an issue that we would carry on at EHC, because we wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t expand by 600% at the port, the community became alarmed. We started saying there would be more trucks in the neighborhood. We don’t want the port to expand the way they were thinking.
Then community members started calling me. “Jorge, I already have issues with trucks. The truck issue has not left. It’s only gotten worse over the years.”
So I started to really send out my canvassers, when we were doing voter engagement follow-ups, to the specific neighborhoods where I knew that there would be impacts, because I knew those would be the people that would have a lot to say or would be pissed. It happened that I would find the right advocates and the right community members that have so much intelligence and intel on how these trucks route, how the truck drivers think, where they idle, what times, and all of that, which was, for me, crucial to capture.
Here is a story of what happened after that truck ordinance. The Port was really the main ally and one of the entities in the neighborhood that was one of the biggest entities that impact the community by the amount of trucks they bring in and out in a day. They comply with following a new truck route that they essentially put forward based on the restrictions that would now come through as a result of the 2005 resolution. But we were learning that these truck drivers, there’s so much turnover. Truck drivers don’t remember. There’s port signage. Signage was confusing. This whole time, they were under the assumption quote-unquote that their trucks were complying. That wasn’t the case.
We were saying, this is not true. The issue continues. Port trucks are scattered all over the neighborhood, cutting through rush hours, idling in the neighborhood. We started taking pictures. We were sending them to Port staff so that they can talk to their truck drivers. We didn’t see anything happening, any changes happening. At that moment, I knew that this was going to be something that we needed to revisit. I was learning about resolutions. I was learning about ordinances, but I was very curious and I wanted to really get to the bottom of this. I was very much interested in, how could we, as EHC, have been okay with what we created in the past? As we know in policy here at EHC, it’s about implementation, and you have to stay on it and vigilant no matter when it is, at all times. It just gave me an opportunity to focus on something I hadn’t worked on. That was exciting.
We were learning a lot more about the Port and its expansion, its impact. We launched a petition. We started to get community involved again. They started to tell us, these trucks already are here. Come at this time. Come to my house. See it for yourself. Some of these community members ended up at the Port of San Diego’s hearing on the expansion. We won. We were able to reduce their impact by 25% over the next 10 years or 15, 20 years of their envisioned expansion that they had already submitted through their new master plan and their EIR, so we had won. We thought, okay, the Port is listening. The Port wants to work with us once again. They want to do the right thing.
This is a map I actually enhanced myself. I started marking. At one of our toxic meetings, they’re like, “Okay, well tell us where the community is complaining. What are the neighborhoods that are mostly impacted?” And I said we cannot be blind about these two sections. The quarter on Beardsley, which is an off-ramp on the 5. It’s a shortcut for them to come into the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, and then the on-ramp right here on Boston. They would cut through the only residential neighborhood in Barrio Logan. That’s where they were going and jumping on, and then as a result they would just idle there. There was plenty of residents there that were complaining and that were happy to have something to say about it.
We were like, “Okay, we need to get smart about these trucks. Where are they coming from? What are their patterns? How many per day? How many per week? How many per month? We wanted to know everything. Where are the sources of truck traffic beyond the Terminal, but of course the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal had one of the most prevalent impacts in the community, so we wanted to talk to them first. We had already built advocacy. We had a relationship with commissioners. We had a good relationship with the Port CEO, so this was a good opportunity to have them conduct a study on their impact. So they did. On April 2017, they conducted a study where they were positioned at hot locations, specific locations that we had given them, like the intersections where they should position themselves. They hired an agency to do the survey for them. And then they found approximately 10% of the observed truck traffic outside of the cordon points as they call them, these intersections, were TAMT. That stands for 10th Avenue Marine Terminal Operations. 10% was enough for them to say, “Okay, we can do better. We can help and we can support in making sure that the truck route becomes something that’s legit and that we do our part and work with City and move forward.”
It didn’t end there. They did two sessions, two surveys: one in April, because as we know, traffic changed with the seasons. They conducted another one in June. They were finding out that these trucks that match their trucks were by far having a strong presence in these neighborhoods. They were observing these trucks during rush hour times—7 to 9 am, 1 to 5 pm—which were the times that we were indicating them to be positioned in these spots. Then they observed more impact. 10, 15% of the trucks belonged to the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.
That analysis really helped us. We said, “We have something here. They know…” We already knew, but now it was ground truth through their study, because the City didn’t have the funding, didn’t really have the leadership or the focus, didn’t have that as a priority for the neighborhood. They were willing to work with us, but they essentially were like, “You should get the ball rolling and then we’ll follow.” In fact, my parents live in Chula Vista in a very industrial area, and there’s these signs there that I would come across that said “$1000 fine for violation.” I was like, okay, this is what we need, so I started looking into the municipal code, and this truck ordinance made more sense than what we had in the city of San Diego. I’m like, why aren’t cities talking about this? Why can’t people just figure out best practices here and talk among themselves and figure out what’s working and what’s not working? You would think it would be as simple as saying, “Hey, City of San Diego. Take a look at this municipal code and see how it’s embedded into their truck resolution and truck ordinance and see if it works better for us.”
That wasn’t the case of course. We needed to prove our case, and a $1000 fine would be a whole different conversation. Who’s going to oversee this? The police? What division? What department? We went around in circles for a while, but we were compiling our research. This is our drone footage that we took. We did drone footage. Later on, we would install cameras, and we did all sorts of research, which I’ll explain here in a second. We were like, okay, we need to figure out where is the highest impact. We figured out Boston Avenue was the only residential neighborhood in Barrio Logan, and I was building a lot of my advocacy and building the relationships and there was a lot of leadership development pipeline that was happening as a result of this work we were doing. Community members were ready to figure this out once and for all, because they would say, “I hear them every day. Every second. They shake my house.” I started to see this for myself. I went out there to sit with a clipboard with them, and we used a PTrak device. We started using a device that would help us measure particulate matter as these diesel trucks would come through, and start documenting the amount of axels these trucks had, what profile they had, how many were coming per hour, and so forth. Here, as you can see, from 11 a.m. to 12:30, 72 diesel trucks would go through this all-residential neighborhood.
Then we would eventually compile our data and then our very good research director here, Joy Williams, would pull this out. I would bring the PTrak to her. She would export the data and put this into a graph. We started to look at when were the highest impacts, what times, and correlate this data to the surveys that we were working on. Then we got smarter. We started to figure out exactly the type of source of the type of truck that were coming through these neighborhoods, so we were essentially doing our research before we would present to the Livable Neighborhoods Committee at the City of San Diego. We were sort of getting all our ducks in line, as they say.
Our power analysis—this is something I came up with just the other day—was sort of, we needed to think about… First, the councilmember needs to be a champion of what we’re doing. He sits in the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee. That’s crucial. Who are the allies? Do we have them on board? There was a lot of education, sort of what I’m doing now, but to a lot of these agencies. I would go and present to the Maintenance Assessment District. Later on, we would hire a policy advocate in Barrio Logan that would help compile all this data and eventually would create the policy brief for us. We had the Community Budget Alliance, which was a coalition of organizations that advocate at the city level and do lobbying to educate councilmembers, so that was cool. That was great because we educated the Community Budget Alliance and we advocated and we rooted for it to be a top priority in the City budget, and they were all for it. They understood the issue.
Then it went to the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee meetings, where there was a play around the Council majority and the mayor. The mayor wanted to support it, so then we knew that after getting the approval from the City Council majority vote, we would have to deal with SDPD and its own micro power government and power relations that they have there. But we knew at the time that there was an assigned commercial vehicle enforcements officer. I found out through this article that I read once on the Union-Tribune, that there was someone who had assigned, it was sort of 20% of their job entailed to be the assigned commercial vehicle enforcement officer. Oftentimes what they would do is, a community really complained about trucks or a truck accident, that they would come out there and start enforcing a truck-restricted area and so forth. But it was pretty much a joke. There was one person for the whole city. There wasn’t really focused on any truck routes. They knew hardly what truck routes existed as a whole in the city of San Diego and little did they know about Barrio Logan.
In 2018, we got the resolution/ordinance signed through this power map that I just shared with you all. It was a big stepping stone. There was better language, more concrete data behind this resolution, more specificity around the type of trucks. That wasn’t specified in the previous resolution. Of course, we had a lot more that we wanted to add there, but they were always pushing back on what they could do and what type of language they wanted to include in general. Policy recommendations, ours was very straightforward: creation and implementation of a truck route—which serves the purpose of protecting both residents and commercial vehicle operators, adopt ordinance expanding Weight Restriction Prohibited Streets in Barrio Logan, clear a path for enforcement including fines and penalties, also warnings, update truck route signage in both community and freeway. We wanted the City to start working with agencies like Caltrans to figure out how to update all the truck signage that could be visible both at night and during the day, which was an issue, too. So yay, rah, rah, rah, the truck ordinance passed, but no enforcement was happening. They said they were getting ready to do the enforcement.
August 9, 2019, a truck driver falls asleep, was not on the truck route, T-bones a parked car at three in the morning. He was 100 feet away from hitting a house, this house right here that you can see on the bottom left. Where they’re power washing, that’s exactly where the incident happened. The building next to it was also in flames. 40,000 SDG&E users lost power that night because prior to T-boning this car, it hit two electric poles and then it hit this. At that moment, I remember we all got in at the office. We had a meeting already scheduled, good thing, at 9:00. We showed up early at 8:30, and we started drafting a press release and launching a petition, so here we go full force again. A truck ordinance in essence is great, but with no enforcement it’s nothing, right? We demanded immediately an allocation of funds to enforce. Of course, the Police Department first showed up to the first meeting, and they said, “We’ve been patrolling the neighborhood. We haven’t seen much activity.” And we knew that that was BS. We knew that our service mattered and our data mattered.
At that point, it’s funny because we started to launch the air monitoring project in Barrio Logan in relation to our AB 617 goals and our own research behind this. I was working with Joy, and I was doing a lot of the camera installation. Well, first it was air monitor installations, PurpleAir monitors. Then along that, we were installing cameras. I was pushing for cameras because we needed to document this, and I sort of knew how to install them myself. I knew how to capture. I was good with video editing, so I was really proactive on this, and I started installing these in all these hot quarters. This is Beardsley. This is that street that was in the truck resolution in 2005. I’ll just show you a clip because I think it’s important for you all to get a sense of what was happening and the type of activity that we were seeing. When we were able to show this video to the Police Department and the Council. At this time, no longer did it live in the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee. It now lived in the Council. One of the goals that we obtained through the ordinance was that they would come back in four months to give the Council a report on how their enforcement was doing. We were able to collect all this data, and it all aligns to that, so when that day happened, and the Police Department would be there in front of Council, we would have our own tools to prove them wrong, that they weren’t doing enough.
Gonzalez: Okay, great. These cameras were positioned in senior housing location, near schools, resident-only neighborhoods, and the amount of activity that we were seeing, just in a day, was something…
Gonzalez: Compiling this data, installing the cameras and all that took about a month. We had solar panels connected to these cameras, and with an application, we could export, download this data so the residents themselves just to create with an MOU with us installing the cameras and the air monitors, so we had both air monitor data and we had also camera data that would pick up on all this activity that was happening day and night.
Zimmerman: Were all of these images in this video from one day, or was it compiled over how long?
Gonzalez: I think it was in a week, just in a week day, but based on the daylight and the time, these are unrestricted areas. These are community corridors where trucks shouldn’t be going through. And these were sent from residents. This footage was actually from a resident who just captured it from his camera. And they all showed up to the hearing. They showed up to the planning group meeting where the Police Department.
That had a huge impact. When we brought the folks who sent us the video to Council and to the planning group with their testimony, they had no option other than to just put in a motion to put in a specific amount of dollars to get the Police Department.
It was $75,000 I believe. Essentially it was just giving somebody 20% of their job to coordinate police officers’ time to position themselves in key locations at different times to enforce, essentially. We went from seeing, in a month giving 60 citations, and someone in the audience said “60 citations in a month? I could give you 60 citations in an hour in my neighborhood. You should just come to stand by in front of my house. Come to see it for yourself.” After seeing this footage, it was pretty evident that the issue was more than 60 citations. A month after, they would come back, and they had about 300, 400 citations.
Gonzalez: It was night and day. Of course, they would first stop the drivers and give them a warning, and they would see them a second time, then they would follow up with a ticket. They knew that we were on cameras. We in fact had—it wasn’t here of course—but we showed a video footage of a police officer with a time stamp on how long were they there, and it was just 30 minutes, and they were claiming it was two hours. We had smart on the streets.
Gonzalez: They couldn’t be lying to us, and they knew that we were watching. The community was watching, and these cameras were pointing to the street this whole time. Citations improved. The education of the drivers was something that the City wasn’t still doing. They weren’t putting an infographic out. They weren’t sending out communications to local press. They weren’t doing their part, so once again, EHC was helping do a lot of that groundwork and important educational outreach to put out throughout the neighborhoods truck route info sheets. Some residents started to print these out and post up in intersections and handing to truck drivers. They were also shared through our website, to all allies. We printed them out, put them in local coffee shops.
Eventually the truck signs would now get renewed and the truck route would have specific and large truck route signs, which was something that we had complained that it was a joke what they had there previously. There were just like three inches font letters that it was hard to read for truck drivers. We were pushing for even better than that. We wanted to have lights. We wanted to have some solar panels along with these truck signs so that they could be seen at night and they could have some sort of reflectors as well so that they were visible at night time.
Aside from this, we knew the truck route… Once the enforcement started to happen, the community started seeing the results immediately, like overnight. They were really building their relationship with police officers. Now there was an oversight, a commercial vehicle enforcement officer in the Central Division, so now there was someone who they can call directly in their local police division. That built the relationship and the accountability, and also the transparency. The commitment was that they would come back to the planning group every four months and provide a report, like any other group does or any other agency that has an impact on the neighborhood should be doing to their local stakeholders or planning groups.
Other solutions we’re looking at, we’re looking at street diets in these neighborhoods that are impacted the most and green spaces and just make it more residential friendly. We’ve been looking into geofencing and smart street lights on Harbor Boulevard so trucks don’t go as fast and also have priority to enter and exit the neighborhood faster and also make it user-friendly for pedestrians and also include a bike path for bicyclists. Now, the Port is jumping on top of funding and opportunities to collaborate with cities and Caltrans and MTS to create a multimodal corridor. This is underway. Funding is always a question, so we’re looking at how funding could help possibly allocate the funds in the future to help bring this study to fruition.
Again, the truck signs have been placed. No longer are they using Boston Avenue to enter. By default they’re going all the way South if they need to, to enter the 5-South freeway versus having to use what they would consider the fastest route to enter. But this is just all these avenues are already congested with traffic because of the amount of Navy personnel that work in the Navy base and as well at NASSCO, all the people that work at NASSCO. Parking is a huge issue, as you probably understand, in our neighborhoods, and then you add these trucks and rush hour traffic. It has been a challenge.
In this implementation, the ongoing issues are community awareness for both residential and business. That still needs to be something that the City needs to do. We can talk to local businesses who are doing commercial vehicle drop-offs and deliveries to be good neighbors and use the truck route, essentially. Ongoing enforcement: we need to always be staying on top of that. Better data and reporting mechanisms: hopefully they’re reporting online on our website. There’s better ways of reporting, through the local city app Get It Done, to file a claim. Caltrans and the City joint they need to figure out better solutions so that they can not only improve their signage on the streets, but can be better informed of the work that both City and Caltrans are doing to tackle the issue. Infrastructure, like I said, the multimodal corridor along Harbor Boulevard continues to be a very close focus of ours right now in trying to find funding to make that happen and also the Boston Avenue corridor as I mentioned. I’ll stop there.
Eng: Thank you. Yeah, I really appreciate the storytelling and the experience of the residents and how they were really driving a lot of this effort. For the community, why does it matter? Why do people care? You can really see why it impacts people here.
Gonzalez: Yeah, and even the impact it was having on a local elementary school, like kids going around 15-ton trucks, and that was normalized. Getting the school involved was also a huge deal and helped us really uplift the issue.
Zimmerman: That’s powerful. I’m curious whether… One of the things that I’ve been trying to understand is how people using navigation apps is affecting their driving patterns. I feel like people are coming through neighborhoods more because they’re told to and they’re just following. Do you know, were the truck drivers mostly using a specific proprietary app, or were they using…? How, yeah.
Gonzalez: Yeah that’s a great question. That’s where I left off. Right when I left the organizing position in Barrio Logan, I was looking into the type of… Because of this work, some of the community members were truck drivers themselves, so they knew the type of applications and technologies they used to navigate the streets and neighborhoods which is a huge deal. You need to think about these type of sizes of vehicles. They cannot back up so they need to know ahead of time, so they pay attention, and a lot of these truck drivers that do it for a living. They’re always updating their devices, their GPS like the old GPS system that used to be in our cars before our phones. They have these truck GPS systems, so I looked at the brands that they use. I started to look at the technology, contacted the company. Where did they get their updates? Is it from Caltrans? They found out that some of it was correlated to Caltrans data, but Caltrans was doing a horrible job updating their information because they expect cities to send them the information. City of San Diego, one, they weren’t even doing anything about it, and even when the truck ordinance passed, they didn’t even know that they were responsible to sending it to Caltrans, so again, the lack of accountability, the lack of transparency in all of this, and us once again connecting the dots.
That’s where I left off. I sent the information over to the Public Safety Department, whoever was overseeing the truck route, to send that information to Caltrans with the hope that they would update their system and that would update GPS systems on all these truck routes. At first, for us, it was like, oh, maybe it’s just GPS on Google. Maybe we have to work with Google to have a truck route application, but it sounds like most of the truck drivers use a different GPS system other than the phone app.
Gonzalez: And we should have one that includes best place to idle, right, in the future, which I didn’t include in the presentation. CEV, these electric vehicles, zero emission vehicle stations. They’re going to have to figure out where to plug in, and all that data needs to be correlated somehow.
Clarke: What’s the net effect of political engagement and how EHC and the community organizations that organize with the community to have political influence in their own jurisdictions about broader policies beyond controlling the frequency of the trucks. What does that do for the Latino community? What kind of real political alignments started happening in the community between EHC and other community organizations and the governing structures?
Gonzalez: I honestly think that the relationships between the Port, for instance, and Port commissioners and the conversations they were having, how they relate, who holds them accountable. These Port commissions are appointed by the City, so we needed to make sure that the City was staying on top of what was happening at the Port and the impact that they had on the community. Then through our leadership pipeline and the levels of advocacy that came from the truck ordinance itself, there was more understanding and it was easier to comprehend how multiple campaigns that we work at EHC are interconnected, so the climate justice campaign. I often said transportation justice is a Barrio Logan issue as well, and it lives through these truck issues. Why isn’t that part of our transportation justice campaign as a whole? Instead of just focusing on freeways and public transportation, why can’t we incorporate truck routes as part of the climate justice campaign?
We began asking all these questions of how our work intersects very much, even though it doesn’t sometimes relate to a specific campaign, and I think our community members began to see how it is all interconnected and there’s different power groups, power agencies, that have the power to change. Sometimes implementation is the key focus in how we get an ordinance to work for us, so I think that allowed a lot of community members to now pursue, for instance, seats in the planning group, different boards and commissions. They became very smart on land use, because in order to figure out what the sources of these trucks were, they needed to figure out where were they located, these businesses, Praxair and all these other small companies that have a diesel fleet, essentially. They started thinking broader. Who represents me? Who has power over this? The Port is a different agency. I think it really helped us build the leadership pipeline in new ways that we hadn’t been seeing before, at least from my perspective. It opened up the gates for folks to not just think about the City, but in Barrio Logan you have to think about the Port and its impact and Caltrans and their role. They also have power. They own land in our communities. I think, if that answers your question, that’s sort of how I trend in my head.
Clarke: I’m wondering whether the truck ordinances are mostly just the part that says, “no five-ton trucks on X, Y, and Z,” or if there’s really the bigger implementation parts that aren’t as specific to one neighborhood, that it would make sense to have really strong versions of, like the thousand-dollar fine.
Gonzalez: Yeah. Like I showed you, even at the one from Chula Vista, it had a code enforcement. When officers would pull out a truck, they didn’t have a code to ticket these types of trucks, these profile trucks. They needed to get educated as to what type of trucks. What do they look like? What type of axle? They went through educational training themselves that they hadn’t ever received before, the Central Division specifically. This was sort of groundbreaking in that sense that it now created a way to talk about truck enforcement and how every police officer should know if a truck is allowed in this route or not, or shouldn’t be in this neighborhood or not, and those are enforcing, that do have the municipal code in hand, they know how it connects to City policy. What’s missing to this day is that municipal code language to be inserted in the truck ordinance.
Right now, we’re creating a newer version, a stronger version of that same ordinance, which is still called a resolution, but for us it’s an ordinance because we know that now in a different department, the police department, there is a municipal code that should be inserted in this truck ordinance that is not reflected there as of now. We also found that there’s other streets that they’re using as shortcuts through the neighborhood that needs to now be part of the restricted streets. What we were saying is that by default, this is a new truck route. This is where trucks should go, period. But that has not been the case, and it’s not going to be the case unless you enforce it and educate and educate and educate. The Port did a really good job creating a video training that they would send to all of their fleets that they would have to sign on in order for them to be able to enter the facility. They would have to see a video before even going to drop off anything at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, and they could be given some sort of certificate saying that they’ve been certified, essentially, on how to enter and exit the terminal.