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Built environment: Mid-City CAN eNews

Building Healthy Communities: City Heights
May 2012
Man-made structures that shape people's world are built environment
Government initiatives to map future for San Diego's urban landscapes
Mid-City CAN transportation forum drives pledge to improve transit
Built Environment group helps train residents on issues in surroundings
Crawford students to learn about Core of teen sexual health
Youth Council asks City Council hopefuls to talk young-adult issues
In My Words: Maria Cortez - ITCH'ing for better public transportation in City Heights
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Man-made structures that shape people's world are built environment

Built environment and transportation describe the way that people interact with and are molded by their environment in an urban setting.

Built environment includes buildings, infrastructure and parks as well as streets and sidewalks.


Specialists use terms like "bikeability" and "walkability" to describe whether streets are designed solely for motorists. Researchers correlate walkable streets with healthier, more connected communities. To read the "Healthy Communities Atlas - San Diego region," click here.


In the October Mid-City CAN email newsletter, Randy Van Vleck, active transportation manager for the City Heights Community Development Corporation, described the built environment in City Heights, where at many apartments, drivers cross pedestrian walkways to access their parking spaces.


"Many of the sidewalks aren't even really sidewalks in City Heights," he said. "They are driveways."


Mid-City CAN's media collaborative, Speak City Heights, looked at City Height's wheelchair accessibility in March. Read and watch video about what they found by rolling across 2.5 miles of City Heights with strollers and wheelchairs by clicking here.


Government initiatives to map future for San Diego's urban landscapes
Government agencies created regional plans designed to set the course for San Diego transportation until 2050 and allocate hundreds of billions of dollars.

California's planning law designed to reduce greenhouse gases is State Bill 375.

It relies on metropolitan regions to implement plans in communities throughout the state. San Diego was one of the first regions to present a plan, which allocates about $214 billion and is designed to guide San Diego's transportation growth through 2050.

Critics say it doesn't increase public transportation enough. California's Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against San Diego Association of Governments in January.

Harris said Sandag's plan doesn't do enough to address pollution in San Diego, which has the seventh worst ozone in the country, according to NBC San Diego.

Sandag also has a Regional Comprehensive Plan, which seeks to balance issues like population growth, jobs and housing with open space, natural habitats and infrastructure.

A few transit forum attendees
A few transit forum attendees pose after the event. To see larger versions of this and other photos, click here.

Mid-City CAN transportation forum drives pledge to improve transit

Todd Gloria signs the pledge
Todd Gloria signs the agreement

Four San Diego politicians signed a written agreement to work to improve public transportation in City Heights at a Mid-City CAN forum.


More than 100 Mid-City CAN's Improving Transportation team members, activists and concerned residents asked San Diego City Council and mayoral candidates to pledge to improve public transportation earlier this month.


City Councilmember Todd Gloria, City Councilmember Marti Emerald, Congressman and Mayoral Candidate Bob Filner and City Council Candidate Mateo Camarillo all took the pledge in City Heights May 12 at Metro Villas apartments. The overflow crowd of about 120 spilled out of the community room into the courtyard.


Young people and community members told personal stories about the importance of improving public transportation in City Heights, where the San Diego Association of Governments estimates that more than two-thirds of the households are likely to used public transportation based on Census data.


"We calculate that about 12,000 to 13,000 people per day board one of our buses in the City Heights area," wrote Rob Schupp, director of marketing and communications for Metropolitan Transit System, in an email. "This is a lot of boardings, particularly for an area not served by a trolley station."


However, he went on to calculate that it was less than 5 percent of MTS' huge, daily operation. Numbers like these illustrate why public transit is such a critical issue to City Heights.


"This is one of the few communities in the county where we have never heard a complaint about bus stops or bus service, all we've heard is please give us more," said Metropolitan Transit System Senior Transportation Planner Denis Desmond at the forum.


The candidates' pledge had five parts including a free bus pass for full-time students, 25 and younger. It also included completing the centerline bus route, which is the plan to use the transit plazas at University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard for direct bus service. The pledge also contained a section on expanding bus hours and stops for those who use public transportation to get to jobs at night or on weekends. Candidates also pledged to prioritize public and active transportation before highway projects. It also emphasized complete streets, which make streets safe for walkers and bikers as well as motorists. To read the entire pledge, click here.


Other sponsors of the Mid-City CAN event included

candidate pledge
Read the full pledge

International Rescue Committee, SEIU United Service Workers West, Southern Sudanese Community Center, City Heights Community Development Corporation and CASA de Vecinos Organizados.


If the candidates make good on their pledge young people who live in City Heights, like San Diego City College Student Angeli Hernandez, will be among the winners.


"I had to stop taking the bus and borrow my parent's car because the bus was always late, and I wasn't able to afford monthly bus passes," said Hernandez, 18.



Built Environment group helps train residents on issues in surroundings

About 40 leaders from City Heights graduated from a nine-week leadership training focusing on the built environment.


The training culminated with a ceremony April 26 at New Roots Community Farm. Organizers estimate that 90 people attended.


The training was a planned by the City Heights Community Development Corporation, Environmental Health Coalition, International Rescue Committee and Proyecto de Casas Saludables. The four organizations are working together as the Built Environment Team. It was funded by a grant from The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities Initiative.

The Built Environment Team plans to have more workshops and meetings with residents to follow up with the leadership training.


Long-time City Heights resident Sidney Michael was one of the graduates. He said he participated because he wanted to become more connected.


"It was another way that I could learn how to further participate in my community," Michael said.

Built Environment Team graduates
Built Environment Team graduates

Crawford students to learn
about Core of teen sexual health

Teen Sexual Health's Core event

Core is coming back to Crawford High Educational Complex after expanding to twice a year and adding the Hoover High School campus.

Core is a sexual education event hosted by the Mid-City CAN Teen Sexual Health team.

It is designed to change the way students and service providers talk about sexual health. It brings together experts, community organizations, artists and youth.

Core at Crawford
12:15 p.m.- 4 p.m. tomorrow,
May 23
Crawford High Educational Complex, 4191 Colts Way
For more information on Core or the Teen Sexual Health Momentum Team, contact co-chairs
Tara Beeston: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kelly Strona: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Youth Council asks City Council hopefuls to talk young-adult issues

Daniela Barron, 16
Daniela Barron, 16

A group of about 20 active Mid-City CAN Youth Council members want to make sure that the new District 9 San Diego City Council members listen to their issues.


Most kids would write a letter.


Mid-City Community Advocacy Network youth organized a forum.


Both District 9 City Council Candidates - Marti Emerald and Mateo Camarillo - are coming to answer their questions in person.


Alfredo Mendez, 17, a junior at Hoover High School will co-moderate the debate with Andrew Donohue, editor at Voice of San Diego, a public-service, nonprofit news organization that focuses on in-depth and investigative reporting.


Daniela Barron, 16, explained what inspired the youth to launch the forum.


"This is the first Candidates Forum in City Heights for District 9, and it is important that we let the candidates know what we really want as youth," said Daniela, a junior at Hoover.


Jose Fernandez, 17, echoed those comments.


"We want to ask the questions that really concern us: for our safety, for our education, and for our success," Jose, a senior at Hoover, said.


Crawford High Educational Complex students are also involved.


"This is a great way for us, as youth, to practice civic engagement," said Armand Binombe, 15, a sophomore at the high school.



Mid-City CAN Youth Council Candidates Forum -
District 9

5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. tomorrow, May 23

Hoover High School Auditorium, 4474 El Cajon Blvd.

Mateo Camarillo and Marti Emerald
Mateo Camarillo and Marti Emerald


In My Words

Maria Cortez - ITCH'ing for better public transportation in City Heights

Maria Cortez
Maria Cortez

I live in City Heights. I've lived in City Heights for 41 years. I'm 55. I'm married. I have a husband. He works nights, so we are kind of like passing ships. I have a daughter who is 29. She works at UCSD - hopefully, she is going to become a nurse. She lives in the Swan Canyon neighborhood in City Heights. I have two grandchildren. My grandson is 8 - and a granddaughter who is 5. She will be starting school in September.


We own our home. I'm president of Teralta West Neighborhood Alliance, a neighborhood association. I also work at Franklin Elementary School, been there for 25 years. I work in the cafeteria and also yard duty. I'm also on the City Heights Town Council and City Heights On Patrol.


I became an activist in 2000, when the city wanted to buy up our properties for mixed use with eminent domain.


One of main projects that I've been working on, and I've been working on since 1985 is transportation. We are trying to have reduced - or free - bus fares for students. It's very hard when you have to make a choice of either putting food on the table, or having your kids go to school, or needing the bus to go to work.


I ride the transit a lot. I go to appointments, and also on the weekends for recreation. I don't drive.


In 1985, I found out that they wanted plaza decks built on University and El Cajon Boulevard for the buses. And down below, we are supposed to have elevators that are going to take us down to the middle of Interstate-15 where we can catch the bus and later on we are also going to be able to ride the trolley.


The structures are built. They haven't opened, because everybody keeps pointing the finger that it belongs to someone else, and it just goes back and forth. So we now have the plaza decks, which sit empty. It breaks my heart when I have to tell parents with babies that we have the fountains, but no water on the plaza deck at El Cajon.


One thing I'm doing to address problems like these is working with Mid-City CAN. I'm co-chair of ITCH, which stands for Improving Transportation in City Heights. I enjoy what I'm doing because I am helping the community, and that is my love: helping the community.


With ITCH, we've held meetings at the Metro Villa Apartments for several months now with community members getting their input on problems and solutions with transit.


We recently held a transportation forum. We invited City Council candidates and mayoral candidates. They gave their support for our public transportation initiatives. We also had them sign a promissory note, stating they will do what they can to help achieve our five public transportation goals. The community was very pleased by their commitments.


The next step for ITCH is to keep the new council members' and the new mayor's feet to the fire. We here in City Heights are still going to be working on transportation, and we will make sure that needs to be done is going to be done. We don't want it to be passed on to another mayor - to other council members. We want it done now. And we will be continuing to hold meetings and invite other officials to come see what we are all about.

The California Endowment

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