A vision for local transportation

Maria Cortez is a member of Mid-City CAN’s Improving Transportation in City Heights momentum team. Photo Credit: Adam Ward

Caption: Maria Cortez is a member of Mid-City CAN’s Improving Transportation in City Heights momentum team. Photo Credit: Adam Ward

A key government agency is updating its transportation and land use plan for the region, an issue that is drawing strong interest in City Heights.

The San Diego Association of Government, more commonly known as SANDAG, is the county’s transportation planning group, and it has been holding a series of workshops about its plan, known as San Diego Forward. The roadmap will provide a series of guidelines for the region over the next 40 years and combine SANDAG’s Regional Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2004, and its 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy, adopted in 2011.

Public transit and environmental groups have criticized the 2050 plan for not doing enough to shift the region from Southern California’s car-centered transportation planning. A San Diego County Superior Court judge ruled that the 2050 plan does not comply with state environmental laws. SANDAG is appealing that ruling.

But despite the uncertainty around the 2050 plan, SANDAG is legally required to update it every four years. It hopes to adopt the new combined plan in 2015.

About two dozen participants came to the event organized by Mid-City CAN and the City Heights Community Development Corporation recently at the Scripps Wellness Center City Heights. Many participants were long-time transportation advocates and had simple reasons for attending the workshop.

“We here in City Heights need better transportation,” said Maria Cortez, a member of Mid-City CAN’s Improving Transportation in City Heights Momentum Team.

City Heights has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in San Diego, with only about a third of households owning a car.

This makes its residents especially reliant on public transportation.

“We need to get to our jobs,” Cortez said. “We need to get to better education. We also need to get to doctor’s appointments and shopping…We deserve that just as much as anybody else does north of the 8.”

Sally B. Lemmie, a City Heights resident and member of the Built Environment Team, also was focused on improving bus and other public transportation options in City Heights at the event. She was excited to learn more about the Mid-City Rapid Bus Project – which would offer a quicker way to get downtown using public transportation from City Heights. SANDAG began construction related to this project this month and said it should be completed in about a year.

Lemmie also wanted to learn more about the no-cost youth bus pass.

“We hope to get the same approval for seniors in City Heights,” she said. “I want to ask questions to see if that’s possible.”

More information about San Diego Forward can be obtained athttp://www.sandag.org/index.asp?projectid=428&fuseaction=projects.detail

Adam Ward, Mid-City CAN