SAN DIEGO — Barrio Logan is known for its vibrant Chicano History, so much so that Chicano Park houses the largest collection of Chicano murals in the world.
Many of the long-time businesses and locals have been there for years hoping to keep the Mexican culture alive.
Keeping culture alive is something that many say has grown difficult as more people are forced to move out because of skyrocketing rent.
Live mariachi music, eating tacos from Las Cuatro Milpas, watching lowriders cruise past vibrant murals etched on nearly every concrete surface in Chicano Park are just some of the ways to describe the culture of Barrio Logan.
“I would see friends hanging out with each other. I would see people who have known each other for decades kind of congregating in the same area, every weekend,” said Maritza Garcia, whose family migrated to Barrio Logan from Tijuana, Mexico.
It’s also become an economic engine for hundreds of local artists and business owners like Garcia who was born and raised in the neighborhood.
The predominantly Mexica-American locals have tried to reduce the crime rate by revitalizing the area.
Many of the older small owners have put in countless hours of labor to generate success, but because of that success, it also means the property value has gone up in Barrio Logan.
According to residents in Barrio Logan, the revitalization has come at a cost–fueling developers to build new apartments and businesses but at a higher cost in rent. This has forced Chicano families who have lived decades in the area to move out.
“I mentioned before, I'm an artist, my art is an extension of me growing up here, of feeling happy because I grew up with friends, I grew up with family,” said Garcia.
In an emotional interview Garcia told CBS 8, her long-time neighbors who once paid affordable rent, have now been forced to leave Barrio Logan. She now fears her family will find themselves in the same situation.
The issues have sparked a furious debate, centered on access to affordable housing and displacement and whether the recent changes have been positive for the existing community, or simply a prime illustration of successful gentrification.
“Our biggest fear is that we will lose our cultural hub,” said Julie, who is part of the Environmental Health Coalition in Barrio Logan.
She and the coalition have demanded new policies from San Diego, especially because they say new development approved by the city has sped up gentrification.
“If you don’t address gentrification and displacement, you are speeding up gentrification because you are increasing the land value and you are giving developers incentives to tear down housing that is currently affordable,” said Julie.
Just this year San Diego City Council approved one of their community plans that requires more affordable housing and prevents displacement of residents in new developments, but activists say that is merely a step.
“Mom and pop shops close a lot, they’re basically gone in the heart of Barrio Logan. But we still have a vibrant mom-and-pop-shop in Logan and we are fearful that that's next,” said Julie.
For now EHC continues to work with community leaders and the city.
WATCH RELATED: Kids receive hundreds of books at first literacy festival in Barrio Logan (Aug. 2022).