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General Press Releases

Port of San Diego, National City, San Diego, 2-1-1 San Diego and Environmental Health Coalition Partner to Provide Relief for 400 Households Impacted by Navy Ship Fire Pollution

The Port of San Diego, National City, San Diego, the Environmental Health Coalition, and 2-1-1 San Diego are partnering to provide relief for households most affected by pollution from the USS Bonhomme Richard fire in the 91950, 92113, and 92102 ZIP codes (includes National City and San Diego’s Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, and Southcrest neighborhoods). On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners unanimously approved, and allocated through an emergency item, $200,000 for a two-phase program that is being administered through the City of National City.  
As part of phase one, 400 households in National City and San Diego received up to two nights in a hotel to provide relief from the smoke. Vouchers for the hotel rooms, which were offered on a first come, first served basis, were distributed through 2-1-1 San Diego and were good for Wednesday, July 15 and/or Thursday, July 16. A second phase of the program, with details to be determined based on remaining funds, is the purchase and provision of residential air filtration equipment for residences located in the indicated ZIP codes. Details will be announced soon. 
“I’m so grateful we’ve been able to help hundreds of our residents get some relief from the toxic air, and know we have more work to do,” said National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. “Going forward, we are preparing for continued long-term discussions with our Port, Navy, County and other regulatory agencies and environmental partners to see how we can continue to improve the lives of our residents and mitigate these scenarios in the future.”

“Providing relief to residents who are most impacted by the USS Bonhomme Richard fire and living in the communities near our maritime terminals is the right thing to do,” said Chair Ann Moore, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “The Port’s Maritime Industrial Impact Fund, through which we’re providing the assistance, was established specifically to help mitigate impacts, such as diminished air quality, in communities adjacent to the maritime industry and terminals. We’re proud to work with our partners in National City, the City of San Diego, the Environmental Health Coalition, and 2-1-1 to provide immediate relief, and we look forward to exploring further ways to help.” 
According to statistics, neighborhoods in National City and southwest San Diego have some of the highest asthma rates in San Diego County, among other co-morbidities, such as diabetes and heart disease. These types of fire events aggravate these illnesses and highlight the health inequities for communities fighting against the respiratory impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While residents were encouraged to take precautions to limit any possible health impacts of the smoke by limiting outdoor activities as much as possible, the recommendation posed a challenge for many who do not have air conditioning inside their homes and no locally activated ‘Cool Zones’ due to COVID-19 regulations.  
“The Port of San Diego is committed to being a good neighbor, which includes doing what we can to help our communities breathe easier, particularly during an emergency situation like the one we’re experiencing due to the USS Bonhomme Richard fire,” said Commissioner Robert “Dukie” Valderrama, National City’s representative on the Board of Port Commissioners. “Nothing is more sacred than the health of our neighbors.” 

“The fire at Naval Base San Diego has severely impacted air quality in nearby neighborhoods. This is concerning. These same neighborhoods already bear the brunt of higher air pollution levels and environmental injustice,” said San Diego Council President Georgette Gómez. “Thank you to the Port of San Diego, the County’s 211 system, National City, and other partners for moving quickly to provide assistance for the households that need it most.”

“I want to express my sincere appreciation to everyone that has contributed to helping those impacted by the toxic air pollution from the recent devastating Naval Ship fire. These communities have already been unfairly impacted from poor air quality and it is imperative that we protect them from additional pollutants,” said San Diego Councilwoman Vivian Moreno. “Thank you to the Port of San Diego, the City of National City, the Environmental Health Coalition, the City of San Diego and everyone involved in swiftly coming to the aid of residents in need. It is so wonderful to see that we can pull together as a community during this time of crisis and make a difference. My staff and I will continue to provide our residents with any assistance needed.”

“We are proud to have joined the City of National City, the City of San Diego, the Port of San Diego and the Environmental Health Coalition in their swift response to our residents’ health needs,” said William York, President & CEO of 211 San Diego, the region’s 24-hour, 365 days-a-year service that connects people to health, community and disaster relief services. “Every day, 211 is here to help those in need with critical services and resources, and it’s our mission to make sure all people have the access to help they need. This was no different, and our team was able to meet this moment quickly and efficiently with the support of these entities.”   
“Environmental Health Coalition is pleased to have joined this effort to provide some relief to residents impacted by the air pollution from the Navy Ship fire,” said Diane Takvorian, executive director, Environmental Health Coalition. “We appreciate the actions taken by the Port of San Diego, Cities of National City and San Diego, and 211 San Diego in the face of lack of emergency disaster planning for this type of incident. These agencies acted as quickly as they could, however residents were forced to endure the toxic pollution for three hot and smoky days. We look forward to working with our partners in this effort, as well as the Navy and the County to develop an emergency response plan that will better meet the needs of impacted residents.” 
National City is San Diego County’s second oldest city.  True to its motto, “In the Center of It All,” the National City community is home to over 61,000 residents, 3000 businesses, a part of U.S. Naval Base San Diego, and the National City Marine Terminal of the Unified Port of San Diego, the most advanced vehicle import and export facility on the West Coast.

About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.