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Maria CortezOn June 18, about two dozen City Heights residents came to learn about and comment on the San Diego Association of Governments', or Sandag's, transportation and land-use plan for San Diego.

Sandag is the San Diego region's transportation planning group. It is having a series of workshops about its new plan. Mid-City CAN and the City Heights Community Development Corporation organized the event at the Scripps Wellness Center, City Heights.

Many participants are 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 vehicle. 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"

San Diego Forward is the name of the Sandag's plan for the region's next 40 years. The plan will 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 away 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 its plan every four years. It plans to adopt the new combined plan in 2015.

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."

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