Did you know: Every time you purchase a non-food item at the store, a percentage of the taxes you see on your receipt go to fund local transportation projects?

This sales tax is called "TransNet." The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), collects the tax and distributes a small amount of that funding to cities in San Diego County.

The City of San Diego gets close to 30-million dollars each year, in addition to other federal and state funds, to decide what type of improvements to local streets and sidewalks.

EHC-CAT

Start Here - Overburdened Communities Need Help Most

We recommend that the City prioritize transportation projects in communities that are:

  • most impacted by air pollution due to cars and trucks on local streets and freeways;
  • have greatest percentages of children with asthma; and
  • have the greatest risk of being hit by car while walking or biking.

These communities include City Heights, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Barrio Logan and San Ysidro.

Start Now - Here's How

So how can the City of San Diego use its funds for transportation justice? It can begin by transforming streets and public space into a place where it is safe for people to walk, bike, take transit and drive, or as we like to call it: "Complete Streets."

Complete Streets means streets are not just built for cars, but for all modes of transportation. When a city builds infrastructure that accommodates more than automobiles, it's been shown to increase other modes of transportation drastically.

Complete Streets have roundabouts to slow down traffic, wide sidewalks to encourage walking, protected bike lanes to separate bicyclists from traffic and streetlights to name a few.

The City needs to dedicate funding to make Complete Streets possible.

CAP Rally opt

Everyone Wants Clean Air

Currently, the City of San Diego has a draft Climate Action Plan that sets goals to increase biking, walking and public transit. This is important because 55 percent of the pollution contributing to climate change comes from people driving alone in their car.

To reach our goal of more walking, biking and taking public transit, the City should at least match their transportation budget to the amount needed to build the streets and sidewalks it takes to accomplish climate goals.

Your Community, Your Voice

There are a number of projects that need to move forward in our communities to make it safer and more convenient to walk, bike, or take public transit. If you know of a transportation need, such as a dangerous intersection, missing crosswalks or bike lanes in your community, contact Monique Lopez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We must work together to ensure that our community priorities are included in the City's budget and build #healthyhoods one bike lane, sidewalk and transit stop at a time.

You may have heard the buzz about the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, but what does it mean and why does it matter? We’ve broken it down so you can understand how our city is handling climate change and how to get involved.

The problems with climate change

Climate change hits our neighborhoods first and worst

What is a Climate Action Plan?

What does the draft Climate Action Plan leave out?

Our solution

Take action

What they’re saying

 diane and community 2

The problems with climate change

Climate change can't be seen or touched, but every day our families are affected by it and the pollution that causes it. The thick, dirty air from cars and industries harm our environment and make us sick. And climate change effects, from sea-level rise along our coast, to extreme heat waves and drought, impact our region and our lives more each day.

Learn more about the harmful effects of climate change in San Diego here.

Climate change hits our neighborhoods first and worst

All neighborhoods in San Diego are impacted by climate change, but not all neighborhoods are impacted equally. As the effects of climate change worsen, some urban neighborhoods such as Barrio Logan, City Heights, and southeastern and southern San Diego suffer significantly more.

Climate change hits hardest in the neighborhoods that:

Without immediate action in our communities, we will see more heat waves, drought, worsened air quality, increased energy bills and more freeway pollution. The time to start is now, and the place to start is here.

What is a Climate Action Plan?

The City of San Diego is developing a plan to reduce the pollution that causes climate change--which mostly comes from cars, trucks and dirty power plants—and boost our resilience in a changing climate. San Diego’s plan will reduce pollution by relying more on clean energy, increasing transit, walking and biking opportunities, increasing our urban tree coverage and reducing waste.

Alvarez Press CAP talking

What does the Climate Action Plan leave out?

The current draft of the Climate Action Plan falls short in two major areas:

  1. It fails to prioritize neighborhoods most impacted by climate change for transportation and energy benefits, and
  2. It doesn’t do enough to reduce energy use in buildings.

dianespeaking

Our solution: Start here, start now! Put our neighborhoods first in the Climate Action Plan!

The City of San Diego should take action on climate now, starting in the neighborhoods impacted first and worst by climate change. Sign our letter to tell the Mayor and City to strengthen and approve an enforceable and comprehensive Climate Action Plan that achieves:

  • Transportation justice: Invests in transit, bicycling, and pedestrian infrastructure in our neighborhoods first, and puts people before freeways
  • Energy justice: Puts solar in our neighborhoods, gives San Diegans a clean energy choice, and makes new and existing buildings energy efficient
  • Good jobs: Creates good-paying jobs for local residents
  • Climate change resilience: Protects our natural resources, wildlife, coastline, infrastructure, and public health from the harmful impacts of climate change
  • Bold goals, state laws and the City General Plan: Achieves the draft climate plan’s goals to cut carbon in half, use alternative transit for half commutes, use 100 percent clean energy, increase our urban forests, and reduce waste

Put Our First

Take Action

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What They’re Saying

City Councilmembers join the community in demanding the City’s Climate Action Plan start here and start now, in our urban neighborhoods most impacted by climate change.

Irma Ortiz, resident of Logan Heights, said:

“Residents in my neighborhood already suffer from air quality that’s damaging to breathe, energy bills that are difficult to pay and public transit that’s hard to access. My community has needed the City to act on climate and pollution for a long time, and I hope the mayor’s plan ensures we will see action soon.” 

Councilmember David Alvarez said:

“Neighborhoods in my district and others like it have been waiting their turn for investments in solar energy, affordable and convenient public transit, bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, efficient and healthy homes and improved air quality. We can’t afford to wait any longer. We need to act here and now to ensure our neighborhoods are resilient against climate change impacts.”

Councilmember Marti Emerald said:

“I positively support the adoption of a strong Climate Action Plan for the City of San Diego. Climate change impacts disadvantaged communities, including many in District 9, hardest. We need to make sure that the economic, transportation and public health needs of the citizens in disadvantaged neighborhoods are adequately addressed by the plan.”

Councilmember Myrtle Cole said:

"San Diego's working families must be equipped to be resilient in a changing climate and create healthy, sustainable investment and quality jobs in communities that have historically been underserved.” 

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When I speak about transportation justice to SANDAG, I keep hearing the same buzz phrase: “balanced approach”. SANDAG claims the transportation plan for our region is a “balanced approach” because some funding is going to public transit, bicycling and walking improvements.

I think we have different opinions on what it means to be “balanced”.

Let’s imagine there are two children. Let’s say I give one child two pieces of chocolate and I give the other child twenty. The child who gets two may say, “Hey, that’s not fair,” and he may be right.

To remedy the situation, I give them both twenty more.

Does that make it balanced? Does that make it equal?

No. The children still began at a place of imbalance. If I continue to give them both the same amount of chocolates, one will still have more chocolate than the other because they didn’t begin at the same place. They were imbalanced from the start.

This example isn’t so different from the transportation conversation I’m having at SANDAG.

Where do we see imbalance?

1. Neighborhoods

Just like the chocolates, when one community begins from a place of very little transportation access, poor sidewalks, dangerous bike paths, poor air quality, and more (two chocolates) and another community has plenty of transit access, wide sidewalks, paved bike paths and toxic-free air, (twenty chocolates), investing the same amount in both communities who are severely imbalanced from the start doesn’t make it balanced. Ignoring the glaring deficit of one community in comparison to another is unjust and, as the child with two chocolates may say, unfair.

2. Funding

For the past few decades, freeways have received significantly more funding than infrastructure that supports public transit, bike paths and sidewalks. We know this to be true because it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to get to certain places without a car.

3. Travel Time

When it comes to competitive travel times between modes of transportation the imbalance is obvious. In San Diego, the average commute time by car is typically 25 minutes while it can be up to two or three times longer on public transit.

4. Public Health

As a result of freeways running through or near their neighborhoods, certain communities experience elevated cases of asthma, cancer and heart disease. SANDAG may say, “But we are investing in strategies to relieve the air pollution in these communities, such as expanding freeways for carpool lanes and for transit.” But this is not a solution to toxic air pollution because we know freeway expansion only worsens air quality and the effects of climate change.

5. Safety

Sadly, residents in low-income San Diego neighborhoods are ten times more likely to be hit by a car. Walk around San Diego’s underserved communities and see the broken or nonexistent sidewalks, lack of cross walks and public transit stops or pedestrian-friendly infrastructure for yourself. You don’t have to be a city planner to know that certain neighborhoods have considerably “less candy”, so to speak.

94bike

Transportation justice means true balance.

When EHC talks about transportation justice, we’re talking about the need for true balance and we are disappointed that SANDAG proposes a plan that only perpetuates a legacy of imbalance.

If SANDAG really wants a balanced transportation plan for the region, they will:

  • Build efficient transit, bike and walk infrastructure
  • Prioritize transit, bike and walk projects first before freeway expansion
  • Make taking transit not an inconvenient form of travel
  • Apply innovative transportation solutions that improve the air quality in low-income communities
  • Fund transit, bike and walk infrastructure first in overburdened communities that have been neglected for too long

We can have a balanced transportation plan in our region, but it will require a new approach to what the term balance means and recognition of communities that have been behind from the start. If one child has two candies and one child has 20, why not give the first child 18 more and implement the values of equity and justice?

Thank you for supporting transportation justice.

SANDAG transport 1

To get involved, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

Monique Lopez, policy advocate

SANDAG board meeting 3

Today, more than 30 community residents and allies traveled two hours and 60 miles to Barona Casino to make their voice heard. They traveled to tell SANDAG board members not to gamble away the region’s future by continuing to heavily invest in freeway expansion projects when the community is longing for improvements to public transit, bicycling and walking. They’re longing for #transportationjustice.

SANDAG transport 1

Today we heard from community members, students and local organizations including City Heights Community Development Corporation, BAME Community Development Corporation, Center on Policy Initiatives, Cleveland National Forest Foundation and the San Diego Housing Federation.

  • Alma, a resident of Sherman Heights, spoke about the need to move away from freeway expansion by telling her own story. Alma lives near the SR-94, where there is a proposal to build extra lanes. Alma’s kids already suffer from asthma, much in part triggered by the air pollution from cars on the freeway neighboring her home.
  • Avital Aboody from BAME Community Development Corporation spoke about the need to make transit ridership a viable option compared to driving in a car. In San Diego the average commute time by car is about 25 minutes, whereas transit may take two to three times as long. By investing in public transit systems we can make transit a more realistic option for residents.
  • A student from San Diego State University spoke about the need for better bike and pedestrian infrastructure. He rides his bicycle to and from school every day and often finds himself in dangerous situations due to the lack of good quality and safe infrastructure.

These are just a few examples to show how SANDAG’s prioritization of freeway expansion is not in the best interest of the community. Residents continue to demand a plan that prioritizes transit, bicycling and walking infrastructure projects before any new freeway projects.

SANDAG transport 2

While SANDAG has taken small steps toward building a more sustainable Regional Transportation Plan, the community’s needs remain unmet. The region continues to ask that SANDAG:

  • Create a plan that deprioritizes freeway expansion projects to prioritize and invest in public transit, bicycling and walking instead. This leads to greater transportation access and significantly reduces air pollution in communities already overburdened from the air quality impacts of freeways in their neighborhoods.
  • Once this plan is developed, treat it as a legitimate option by putting it through the same environmental review process as the freeway-centered plan. Without this review process, our #transportationjustice plan doesn’t stand an equal chance.

To get involved in demanding transportation justice, please contact Monique Lopez today: 619-474-0220 x 130 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

With your help, we’ve been calling for SANDAG to create a #transportationjustice plan for our communities for years. Transportation justice means all neighborhoods have equal access to public transit, bicycling and walking opportunities and no one is overburdened with the pollution from cars on neighborhood streets or freeways.

94bike

 

Finally in September 2014, SANDAG agreed to look into the costs and benefits of such a plan. Now in January 2015, they released a potential plan but it still lacks the needs identified by the community.

So transportation justice advocates ask that:

  • SANDAG create a plan that deprioritizes freeway expansion projects to prioritize and invest in public transit, bicycling and walking instead. This leads to greater transportation access and significantly reduces air pollution in communities already overburdened from the air quality impacts of freeways in their neighborhoods.
  • Once this plan is developed, SANDAG treat it as a legitimate option by putting it through the same environmental review process as the freeway-centered plan. Without this review process, our #transportationjustice plan doesn’t stand an equal chance.

What are they saying?

  • SANDAG claims there is not enough funding to support operations and maintenance for more public transit, bicycling and walking paths. But the truth remains that SANDAG doesn’t have enough funds to support operation and maintenance for freeway infrastructure, yet they still vote to expand freeways. This makes it clear that if there is a will for funding there is a way, SANDAG just has it’s priorities wrong.

We need you to help them focus on what really matters: Accessible and affordable public transit. Safe infrastructure for bicycling and walking. Less freeways, cars and trucks. Cleaner air. Lower asthma rates. Healthier San Diego. Sustainable future.

Here are two things you can do to make your voice heard:

  • Attend the SANDAG hearing

SANDAG is discussing the plan publicly on January 29 and we need your voice to be heard and your presence to be felt. To get involved in demanding transportation justice, please contact Monique Lopez today: 619-474-0220 x 130 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Tell SANDAG that we demand transportation justice.

Right now, you can tell five of the SANDAG board members who will be evaluating the transportation plan. You can start with the message below, feel free to alter the content to make it meaningful to your own neighborhood.

City of San Diego
Todd Gloria, Council Member
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City of Chula Vista
Hon. Mary Salas
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City of Encinitas
Hon. Lisa Shaffer, Councilmember 
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City of Santee
Hon. Jack Dale, Councilmember 
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City of Solana Beach
Hon. Lesa Heebner, Mayor
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Email template:

Dear _______,

My name is _______. I am deeply concerned by the transportation scenarios proposed by SANDAG.

The freeway-heavy plan is unjust and doesn't meet the community's needs for transportation justice.

Transportation justice means all neighborhoods have equal access to public transit, bicycling and walking opportunities and no one is overburdened with the pollution from cars on neighborhood streets or freeways.

The plan builds more freeways that will continue to pollute our air, raise the rate of childhood asthma, and will not ease traffic congestion. I ask you to advocate for a plan that deprioritizes freeway expansion projects and invest in public transit, bicycling and walking instead and treat it as a legitimate option by putting it through the same environmental review process as the freeway-centered plan.

Thank you for representing the people’s demands for transportation justice.