On November 17, 2015, Old Town National City will break ground on the city's first transit-oriented affordable housing development: The Paradise Creek Apartment Homes.

We spoke with National City community members about what this momentous groundbreaking means to them. From better living conditions to a symbol of hope, this development means much more than just another building. 

"Paradise Creek provides a big opportunity for stabilty in my family and a huge wellness project for the community."

"For me, the Paradise Creek Apartments are like a dream come true. I have been participating in this project since it was an idea. For my family and I, the apartments represent our hope for quality of life and a better home."

"In my community in National City, the homes are in really bad shape. The Paradise Creek Apartments are an opportunity for my neighbors to live in better conditions."

"The Paradise Creek Apartments are an $80 million project. This demonstrates that nothing is impossible. We, the residents, can continue to fight to improve our community."

"The Paradise Creek Apartments are a huge accomplishment for National City residents. Those of us who work in National City will have a better quality of life."

"The Paradise Creek Apartments are really important to me. We have a lot of low income families in National City and I believe that they deserve to live in better conditions."

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National City
has long struggled with polluting businesses operating next to homes and schools - emitting toxins that poison our air and make our children sick. National City is home to 32 million pounds of hazardous substances and 870,000 cubic feet of toxic or hazardous gases. In comparison, La Jolla has 3.8 million pounds of hazardous gases. National City asthma hospitalization rates are nearly double the county average.

The community worked to approve its Westside Specific Plan in 2010, a new plan to address the impact of polluting businesses operating too close to homes and schools in the neighborhood. On November 5, 2013, National City Council called for the gradual phase out of two businesses near Kimball Elementary School- Jose’s Auto Electric and Steve’s West Coast Automotive. Today, November 5, 2015, these businesses have relocated safely away from homes and schools.

Today, the children of National City can breathe cleaner air.

We believe that no one is more entitled to determine the future of a community than the people who live there. Residents of National City have worked for decades to build #healthyhoods for their families, and the relocation of these two businesses represents a momentous victory for the neighborhood and a tremendous step toward public health and environmental justice.

Old Town residents from National City are excited to work with the Port of San Diego to expand Pepper Park, the only public park in the area. Pepper Park currently represents less than two percent of the National City Marine Terminal and on Wednesday, September 23, residents proposed expanding the park by two acres to create more space for children and the community to play.

National City and the Port of San Diego have worked extensively to get us closer to a new vision for this precious park. Residents from Old Town National City have been participating in the planning process since 2010 and want to ensure that new vision will also provide meaningful public amenities beneficial to everyone, and on September 23 we achieved our goal of expanding the park by up to three acres.

Pepper Park

Residents hoped to see Pepper Park grow enough to include a big enough area for pick-up games, just like the area in Cesar Chavez Park, and water fountains similar to those at the Waterfront Park in front of the San Diego County Administration Building. Residents wanted to ensure that open space available for public, active recreation opportunities isn’t compromised as maritime and tourism grow. 

Now, we look forward to an active and playful future for children of Old Town National City.

Thank you for helping us build #healthyhoods

Carolina Martinez 





Carolina Martinez

Policy Advocate

City Heights and National City are diverse, low income communities in the San Diego/Tijuana region of Southern California, with residents that include refugees and immigrants from over 60 countries. It is a region that is facing the impacts of climate change, including wildfires, heat waves, and water issues, and in some communities, air pollution and higher asthma rates.

The Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) works in the region to address environmental justice issues, and partnered with La Maestra Community Health Centers on a Creating a Climate for Health pilot project funded by the Public Health Institute. EHC built upon its “deep energy education” model to train La Maestra clinic staff and Promotores about the connections between climate change and health. EHC provided materials to help Promotores and staff communicate with patients about the connections, and it laid the groundwork to link both clinic personnel and patients/community members to opportunities to influence and advocate for San Diego’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan (CMAP). You can read more about this partnership on our brochure here

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EHC one pager 44 2The EHC “deep education” approach starts by working from the concerns immediately relevant to community members, and showing how their actions make a difference for their families while also making a difference for the planet. In the case of energy, for example, Promotores showed families how they could save money by reducing their energy usage, teaching them to track kilowatts, turn lights off and change out light bulbs. Families saw immediate savings, while also knowing they were reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause “calentamiento global” [global warming]. “We put it like this to the communities we work with,” said EHC Campaign Director Leticia Ayala, “Do we want to do something? Or do we want to do nothing?”

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Recently, the governor took a step forward in reducing pollution from California's freight system. This important step will reduce the emissions from the ships, cranes, trucks and trains that harm our communities with dirty air and toxic pollution. With this action, the governor ordered seven state agencies to work on projects and plans that transition toward zero-emission technologies. The governor’s order brings hope to communities such as Barrio Logan and west National City that stand most directly in harm’s way from freight diesel impacts.

In our region, and many others around the state, the most impacted communities are those that benefit the least from the global economy and the relentless flow of “goods” through them. Year after year, the Barrio Logan area leads the region in rates of children’s visits to emergency rooms for asthma – a condition known to be aggravated and possibly caused by proximity to traffic pollution.

We applaud the governor for his support for aggressive action to advance the development of zero-emission technologies. Only by eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels can we sustain economic vitality and also meet California’s climate goals and protect our communities from the many health-damaging effects of exposure to diesel.

Joy WilliamsJoy Williams
Research Director
Environmental Health Coalition