1 transportation

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.

Freight1Clean air is a human right. And right now is a key time to make sure our state’s leaders make a decision with that fact in mind.

California’s trucks, trains and ships emit a tremendous amount of pollution into the air we breathe, robbing us of our health (especially the health of children) and contributing significantly to climate change. But we can change all of this for the better with just one signature.

Freight3The California Air Resources Board has developed a strategy that shifts what our trucks, trains and ships use to a much cleaner and much healthier system so we can breathe easier -- literally. Now, we need to show our support.

We need your help to tell California how much we need clean air. Join EHC and clean air avocates around the state in urging California to adopt a strong policy that shifts trucks, trains and ships away from pollution and creates #healthyhoods for us all.

Please sign the petition now!

 

Last week, SANDAG has had their Regional Transportation Plan (passed in 2011) rejected a second time by an appeals court for failing to offer plans that address how future planning will decrease air quality and contribute to climate change

The court has stated, as our community has advocated for, that San Diego needs a plan that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from car traffic. 

SANDAG will be making a decision soon on whether or not to use more of our public funds to challenge the court’s ruling. Or, SANDAG can chose to do the right thing and move forward with a plan that prioritizes transit, biking and pedestrian projects first.

Choosing to fight the courts' findings will continue to waste taxpayer funds and further entrench the San Diego region in an unsustainable, unhealthy and inefficient transportation future.

TJ