YOP Extended to June 2024
BREAKING NEWS! On February 17, SANDAG announced the extension for the Youth Opportunity Pass (YOP) program for youth 18 and under for another year! Thank you to our local leaders, community advocates, youth and our Improving Transportation in City Heights (ITCH) team for your hard work. The YOP program deadline has been extended to June 30, 2024, meaning youth 18 and under can continue to use the no cost PRONTO pass to ride public transportation in the San Diego region including the trolley, bus, and coaster. 🚌🚲🚃
Our ITCH team has advocated for a no cost youth public transportation program since 2011.
Mid-City CAN and our partner organizations will continue to work to expand and extend YOP: We want YOP to be permanent and to include everyone 24 and under!
Earlier this week, Mid-City CAN, along with our coalition of organizations supporting free youth transit programs, were excited about the creation of Assembly Bill 610 Youth Transit Pass Pilot Program: Free Youth Transit Passes.
We thank Assemblymembers Chris Holden, Tasha Boerner Horvath, Mike Fong, and Gail Pellerin for creating the bill.
You can count on Mid-City CAN to support AB 610! Follow our social media channels for more about this bill and our trip next month to Sacramento to encourage Gov. Newsom and California legislators to support AB 610.
Youth Council Announces New Campaign
With the Committee on Police Practices established, Youth Council is excited to announce their next campaign. After weeks of discussion including a meeting with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and his staff, Youth Council has chosen to revitalize a City Heights park as their new project!
If funded, Youth Council's City Heights Urban Village Revitalization Campaign will include Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park (4455 Wightman Street) which is in dire need of upgrades.
Here are the upgrades that Youth Council is requesting:
- 2 Hydration Stations
- 5 more trash and recycling bins
- 5 flat benches
- 8 additional light stands
- Update grass
- Adding 3 shade structures with tables along Fairmount Ave
- 15 tress alongside Fairmount Ave
- Upgrading both playgrounds
- Updating ground from sand and bark to rubber
- Adding swings and spring riders to both playgrounds
- Additional necessary equipment in toddler playground
- Getting playgrounds to meet National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) standards
- Adding automated faucets, toilets, soap dispensers, dryers, and napkin dispensers
- Adding mirrors, hanging hooks, baby changing stations, seat cover dispensers
- Trash cans for every stall and under the sink
- Maintenance: Clean webs and paint floors
The project has received support from Council President Sean Elo-Rivera.
Follow us on social media for the latest updates on this campaign!
ITCH Members Attend Vargas Address
Our Improving Transportation in City Heights (ITCH) members attended Supervisor Nora Vargas' State of the County address Wednesday night. Vargas made history as being the first Latina, immigrant, and woman of color to deliver the speech.
Mid-City CAN thanks Chairwoman Vargas for her continued support of the Youth Opportunity Pass (YOP) program! During her address Vargas mentioned a student named Heidi who before YOP had a daily commute to school of 3 hours a day. Not only was it exhausting, but her family struggled to pay for her monthly bus pass to get to school.
"Access to education is one of the most crucial investments we can make as a community to support our youth and prepare them with the skills necessary to perform and excel at the jobs of the future," Vargas said.
Vargas mentioned that thanks to YOP youth ridership in public transit has increased in San Diego by 84 percent.
"That's why I will continue to champion no cost transportation for our youth. Only this time we're going to expand it to offer no cost transportation for 24 and under helping our college students, young adults, and those trying to make it to their jobs on time."
Our ITCH team has advocated for a no cost youth public transit program since 2011. Learn more about our campaign to make YOP permanent by visiting our Transportation Justice (ITCH) page.
For more photos of our team at the State of the County address, visit our Flickr page by click here.
📷: Ron Sanchez, Mid-City CAN
ITCH Heads to Sacramento!
Members of Mid-City CAN's Improving Transportation in City Heights (ITCH) team and our Policy Advisor are in Sacramento today (January 10) for a rally to encourage legislators to fund student transit passes.
Members of the California State Legislature
Sacramento California 95814
Dear Senators and Assemblymembers:
As a coalition, we request that your 2023 Budget allocate funding to support a groundbreaking statewide student transit pass program so that every single California student–from kindergarten to graduate school–can easily and freely access our public transit systems. This should be considered as part of a larger transit and education rebuilding and recovery effort as the COVID pandemic subsides.
Student transit pass programs have multiple co-benefits, making this an effective investment during a time of fiscal austerity. This is based on at least three peer-reviewed papers   conducted by several University of California researchers that provide academically rigorous research indicating fare-free student transit is an effective program to improve educational outcomes, increase the recruitment and retention of students, increase ridership, decrease VMT, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Transit agencies across California have partnered for over a decade to provide “insurance-like” transit discount programs because they work for students at K-12 institutions, community colleges, and our state’s universities. However, these programs are limited in scope and scale. During the pandemic, transit agencies, including Los Angeles Metro and SANDAG, used American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding for their robust and successful pilot programs. However, these successful programs will run out of funding in 2023 and need a sustainable source of funding.
You have the opportunity to build on these successful programs by creating a comprehensive, statewide program that provides an immediate and tangible benefit to struggling students–from low-income elementary school children to UC Academic Workers striking for, amongst many demands, free transit passes. This is because more than half of adults in the U.S. who are experiencing poverty are also experiencing transportation insecurity and studies show that discounted fare programs for low-income individuals can alleviate poverty, increase social mobility, and improve health by increasing trips, particularly to health care and social services.
Finally, these programs result in real educational gains that could help struggling students post-pandemic. In the first year of an Alameda County student pass pilot program 14% of students missed fewer days of school than they did during the prior year, and involvement in non-school-based afterschool activities and after-school jobs increased dramatically (by 77% and 238% respectively) for student participants. And at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, a pilot program resulted in community college graduation rates increasing by 27% higher for students who receive free transit passes.
 Saphores, J., Shah, D., & Khatun, F. (2020). A Review of Reduced and Free Transit Fare Programs in California. UC Office of the President: University of California Institute of Transportation Studies. http://dx.doi.org/10.7922/G2XP735Q Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/74m7f3rx
 Nuworsoo, C. (2004). Deep Discount Group Pass Programs as Instruments for Increasing Transit Revenue and Ridership. University of California Berkeley. Dissertation Series UCB-ITS-DS-200402, May 1, 2004, pages 1-292. https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/crp_fac/18
 Brown, J., Hess, D. B., & Shoup, D. (2003). Fare-Free Public Transit at Universities: An Evaluation. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 23(1), 69–82. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X03255430
Earlier this year, Governor Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 1919 which would have enabled hundreds of thousands of K-12, community college, CSU, and UC students and academic student employees to ride transit without fare throughout the state. The reasons were sound; funding had not been included in the budget. Therefore, we respectfully request that you include funding in this budget for the full cost of a pilot program.
The reasons couldn’t be more urgent; as we experience unprecedented inflation and more extreme weather, we must support every conceivable way to get people out of polluting cars, immediately, and with a societal benefit that reduces poverty, quickly. We encourage your budget team to identify funds that are:
- Non-Proposition 98 funding which would ensure support from school districts, many of whom contribute to student transit already.
- Subject to SB 535 Disadvantaged Communities and AB 1550 Low Income Community requirements.
- Dedicated to reducing the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, created by passenger vehicles.
We ask that you finally be the Legislature who makes public transit a truly public good for millions of California.
Executive Director, Move LA
Executive Director, Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative
Executive Director, Coastal Rail Santa Cruz
Senior Public Affairs Director
Executive Director, Mid-City Community Advocacy Network
Policy Counsel, Circulate San Diego
Co-Director, State Policy, Streets for All
Executive Director, Climate Resolve
Youth for Climate Justice
Santa Cruz Climate Action Network
Iwalani (Lani) Faulkner
Director, Equity Transit
Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Santa Cruz Chapter
David Diaz, MPH
Executive Director, Active San Gabriel Valley
President, UAW 2865
Executive Director, San Francisco Transit Riders
Campaign for Sustainable Transportation
Coalition Manager, California Green New Deal Coalition
Governor Gavin Newsom
Secretary Toks Omishakin
Year in Review 2022
These are words that come to mind as we reflect on 2022.
Gratitude: Mid-City CAN is thankful for your support in helping us build a stronger community.
Progress: Advocacy can take years and in 2022 we had two major wins -- the Youth Opportunity Pass that provides no cost public transit to youth 18 and under began on May 1 after a decade of advocacy by Mid-City CAN. It immediately makes an impact: SANDAG reported a 92 percent increase in overall youth ridership in September with YOP (compared to April before YOP). Another reason to celebrate is the establishment of the Commission on Police Practices that will hold police accountable when abuses of police power occur, -- a campaign that Youth Council members worked on for four years.
Joy: We were able to provide many programs to the community such as Artivism which empowers youth of color; we provided the COVID-19 vaccine to over 500 residents; we educated thousands of community members about the importance of voting through door knocking, phone banking, held workshops and events such as Boba and Ballot, filmed a Public Service Announcement, and so much more!
We wish you a wonderful and restful holiday season and we're excited about what we will accomplish in the New Year!
Snowy Wonderland 2022
More than 300 community members kicked off the holiday season at our Snowy Wonderland Family Event on Sunday, December 4th. Hundreds of children enjoyed playing in 22 tons of snow at the Sherman Heights Community Center. There were also many activities such as face painting, gingerbread cookie making, meeting Santa and the Elf, eating delicious food, games, getting to know community organizations, and much more!
Thank you to everyone that attended and many thanks to Sherman Heights Community Center and our partner organizations for being there and making the event a huge success!
Mid-City CAN wishes you a wonderful holiday season!
Check out the Snowy Wonderland video!
View photos from Snowy Wonderland by clicking here.
📷: Ron Sanchez, Mid-City CAN
Giving Tuesday 2022
Support Mid-City CAN with a Donation on Giving Tuesday!
This is Diana Ross, the Executive Director at Mid-City CAN. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday.
We have a lot to be grateful for at Mid-City CAN thanks to the hard work of our staff and amazing volunteers. Many of you know that we’ve been advocating for Youth Opportunity Passes for over a decade and this year we’re proud to receive two awards for our work, Circulate San Diego’s Innovation Award and Climate Action Campaign’s Climate Justice Award. We’re also thrilled about the news that there’s been a 25 percent increase in overall youth ridership countywide thanks to YOP.
Our Civic Engagement team had a successful Get Out the Vote campaign, exceeding their goals in registering and educating City Heights residents about the importance of voting. The team also held its first Health, Pride, and Resiliency event in June. Our Youth Council’s Artivism program in the summer was a success, attended by 42 students from 16 different schools. Their four-year campaign to establish the Commission on Police Practices will successfully come to an end in December. Our Juvenile Justice team has been campaigning to end the schools to prison pipeline and we’re encouraged to hear that arrest rates for youth in San Diego County were at 10-year lows in 2018 according to SANDAG.
You can continue to count on Mid-City CAN to advocate for positive changes in the community and provide programs that develop youth in City Heights into leaders. So today on Giving Tuesday, we hope that you’ll consider making a donation. Your gift is an investment to the community. Thank you for your support!
Giving Tuesday 2022
Help Mid-City CAN create lasting change in City Heights and the greater San Diego area! Tuesday, November 29th, is Giving Tuesday, a global movement created to inspire individuals to give back. Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to support the ongoing programs at Mid-City CAN designed to bring social justice and equity to City Heights and beyond while helping grow and support youth leaders and advocates in our community.
We've made great strides in our campaigns thanks to your help. Some highlights in 2022:
- After almost 11 years of advocacy by our Transportation Justice ITCH team, the Youth Opportunity Pass (YOP) pilot program began on May 2022 providing no-cost public transit to youth 18 years old and under.
- A four-year campaign by Youth Council helped established a Commission on Police Practices that will ensure transparency and accountability when abuses of police power occur.
- Provided an Artivism (arts and activism) program in the summer that was attended by 42 students from 16 schools.
- Civic Engagement team educated residents in City Heights about the importance of voting through door knocking, phone calls, and voter engagement events such as “Boba and Ballot” at Café X.
- Civic Engagement team held their first "Health, Pride and Resiliency" event in City Heights to improve the health disparities that the QTIPGM community (Queer, Trans, Intersex, People of the Global Majority) encounter and provide resources from Community Based Organizations to mitigate those disparities.
Together, we're excited about what we'll accomplish for the community in 2023! We ask that you consider donating to Mid-City CAN to help us continue to bring social justice and equity in our community! Our Giving Tuesday campaign will begin on November 19 and end on December 6 with a goal of raising $5,000. We'll have a 10-day countdown on our social media channels starting on November 19 to highlight some of the work of our Momentum Teams.
Thank you for your support! You can donate by clicking the donation button below:
Neighborhood Captains Record Voting PSA
The Civic Engagement team's Neighborhood Captains took time from their super busy schedule to record a Public Service Announcement about the importance of voting.
Mid-City CAN and the captains enjoyed working with the incredible and professional folks at Media Arts Center! Our team stopped by the Idea Lab in City Heights by the City Heights/Weingart Library and worked with Juan Lopez of Media Arts Center.
It was the first time that the Neighborhood Captains ventured into a creative space such as the Idea Lab. "They were really impressed by how professional the (Idea Lab) set up is and all the equipment," said Victor Ponce, Neighborhood Captain.
The captains were thrilled by the experience and one of them immediately wanted to see how he did on camera and Juan obliged by showing Sergio the footage. A huge thank you to Juan for filming, editing, and producing the video! Mid-City CAN has enjoyed working with Juan and Media Arts Center over the years.
Great job and thank you, Neighborhood Captains!
Get Out the Vote for the November 8 California General Election! For voting resources visit our Voter Resource page by clicking here.
Learn more about the wonderful folks at Media Arts Center by visiting their page.
NOTE: Video can also be viewed with Spanish subtitles by clicking here.
Check out the Behind-the-Scenes photos from the video shoot!
📷: Ron Sanchez, Mid-City CAN
Update on the Commission on Police Practices
The Commission on Police Practices is finally headed towards the finish line!
On Monday, October 3, Mid-City CAN, members of Youth Council along with San Diegans for Justice and Women Occupy San Diego delivered public comment during the public hearing for the CPP at the City Administration Building. Agenda Item 165 (Determination of Collective Bargaining Matters Related to Proposed Implementation Ordinance for the Commission on Police Practices and Proposed Amended Interim Standard Operating Procedures) passed with 7 Yeas and 1 Nay (1 absent). The ordinance was at an impasse for seven months because of two issues:
- San Diego Police Officers Association pressed for the city to allow family members of law enforcement officers to join the commission. City Council denied this request.
- Mid-City CAN, our allies, and the community asked that individuals with a felony record should be appointed to the commission since they have served their sentence. Council members did not remove this prohibition.
On November 2022, San Diego voters overwhelmingly approved Measure B which dissolved the police review board and mandated the creation of the CPP. Measure B was authored by Andrea St. Julian, co-chair of San Diegans for Justice. “There is nothing about me or my background that makes me anti-police. In fact, Measure B was about helping everyone be safe, including police officers," said St. Julian during her public comment.
"Today, our City Council invoked the will of the People who overwhelmingly chose to establish the Commission on Police Practices in order to provide San Diegans with the confidence of knowing there will be transparency and accountability when abuses of police power occur. I thank and congratulate Council President Pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe and her team for their years of hard work to make San Diego a safer and more just community," Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said in a statement.
Mid-City CAN thanks our Youth Council members Denisse and Jeannette for their amazing support!
Click here to view photos from the hearing.
📷: Ron Sanchez, Mid-City CAN
Youth Council Strike a Pose for the Camera
With the arrival of Fall, Youth Council members met up for a fun photoshoot outdoors while getting to know new Youth Council members! Everyone had a great time striking a pose for the camera.
“When I see these photos I see confidence, strength, kindness, and inner and outer beauty,” said Ron Sanchez, Media Specialist for Mid-City CAN. “I hope they feel empowered and energized when they see their photos and remember that they can accomplish anything in life.”
Youth Council are a group of young people, ages 13-18, who want to create change in our local Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color. They meet every Friday and start each session enjoying food and getting to know each other. Youth Council is always open to meeting new members. Learn more about this fun group by clicking here to visit their webpage.
Check out the fabulous pics from the photoshoot.
📷: Ron Sanchez, Mid-City CAN
Mid-City CAN Wins Innovation Award for YOP
SAN DIEGO (September 15) – Mid-City CAN receives Innovation Award at Circulate San Diego’s 2022 Momentum Awards ceremony! Held this year at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park, Circulate's Momentum Awards recognize local people and projects that provide excellent mobility choices for San Diegan residents and promote a shared goal of fostering vibrant, healthy neighborhoods.
The Youth Opportunity Pass (YOP) campaign wins the Innovation Award! This campaign began over a decade ago by mothers and grandmothers in City Heights who identified transit as a major barrier to youth’s access of education, job opportunities, and extra-curriculars as well as a major financial undertaking for transit-reliant families.
“This is exciting and truly an honor to win the Innovation Award. Thank you, Circulate San Diego,” said Ariana Federico, Mid-City CAN’s lead organizer for the Improving Transportation in City Heights (ITCH) team. “This award belongs to all of the organizers, students, parents, volunteers, and supporters who have worked so hard for over a decade to make sure that the Youth Opportunity Pass program became a reality. Our work regarding YOP is ongoing and we want to make it a permanent program.”
Mid-City CAN Policy Advocate Belen Hernandez Garcia and ITCH team member Maria Cortez were delighted to accept the award from Colin Parent, Circulate San Diego's Executive Director and General Counsel. Along with the award was a Certificate of Recognition from Chair Nathan Fletcher, Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, and Councilmember Raul A. Campillo. Mayor Todd Gloria was in attendance and presented one of the awards. Governor Gavin Newsom received an award and recorded a message congratulating all of the winners. View the list of winners here.
The YOP pilot program enables youth 18 and under to ride free with a PRONTO pass from May 2022 to June 30, 2023. Youth riders receive unlimited rides on the bus, Trolley, COASTER and SPRINTER all over San Diego County.
Only a few months in, SANDAG reported a significant increase due to the YOP pilot program. Compared to April 2022, the following three months had cumulative averages of:
• 25 percent increase in overall youth ridership countywide
• 20 percent increase in average weekday ridership countywide
• 68 percent increase in average Saturday ridership countywide
• 90 percent increase in average Sunday ridership countywide
• 24 percent increase in total MTS youth ridership
• 36 percent increase in total NCTD youth ridership
"With the surfacing of the Youth Opportunity Pass I never had to worry about the expiration of my bus pass or making sure I always had change with me to be able to go home. Without money being in the way, I found myself taking more opportunities to make a change within my community as I had a potent form of transportation. For this reason, the Youth Opportunity Pass Program should remain in place,” said Karina Sandoval, a senior at Hoover High School and a Mid-City CAN Youth Council member, during a Back to School press conference last August that promoted the YOP program.
Mid-City CAN's Improving Transportation in City Heights is a momentum team of community members interested in increasing youth opportunity, combating climate change, and increasing investment in public transportation, and has advocated for the YOP program since 2011. Last June, Mid-City CAN was the recipient of the 2022 Climate Justice Award during Climate Action Campaign’s BLOOM ceremony. Climate Action Campaign honored Mid-City CAN for its commitment to improving the community and ensuring every young person has access to free public transit through Youth Opportunity Passes.
The team continues its work to make YOP permanent.
Mid-City CAN, along with a coalition of transit agencies, school districts, environmentalists, and others, have been supporting Assembly Bill 1919 - Youth Transit Pass Pilot Program: free youth transit passes. If passed, AB 1919 would award grants to transit agencies for the costs of creating, designing, developing, advertising, distributing, and implementing free youth transit passes. In recent weeks the bill has passed through all committees with bipartisan support and only 1 no vote. The bill fell short as it was vetoed on September 13 by Governor Newsom because he said the bill requires the creation of a new grant program which is not in the budget. Mid-City CAN will continue to work with the coalition and support AB 1919.
📷: Ron Sanchez, Mid-City CAN
Mid-City CAN Joins Coalition, Supports LaCava on Proposed Reforms to CPGs
Wonderful news to share regarding the reforms to Community Planning Groups:
Thank you Circulate San Diego and City Council!
Mid-City CAN joined Circulate San Diego and nine other San Diego organizations in submitting a letter of support for Councilmember Joe LaCava's proposed reforms to Community Planning Groups (CPG). The proposal would bring CPG operations into compliance with the City Charter, and would increase diversity and participation in CPGs.
Over the past several years, calls for the City to consider reforms to Community Planning Groups have come from many sources, including the San Diego County Grand Jury, the City Auditor, the Land Use and Housing Committee of the San Diego City Council, and Circulate San Diego.
The Grand Jury Report found that membership of some CPGs is not sufficiently diverse to represent their communities. Some CPGs currently create inappropriate restrictions for democratic participation, limiting community members’ ability to vote and participate in elections.
The current structure of CPGs is illegal. The City Attorney has opined that the current format of CPGs is inconsistent with the City Charter, and must be changed. The City Attorney opinion validated issues first raised by Circulate in an April 2019 memo which explained that the City Charter requires advisory boards like CPGs to be appointed by the Mayor.
Read the full letter to Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council by clicking here.
CANCELED: Back to School Resource Market
Mid-City CAN regretfully has to cancel our Back to School Resource Market event on Saturday, September 17. It is our hope to host an event of this impact for our community in the future. Thank you for your enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of this event.
Mid-City CAN appreciates the relationship with our partners and look forward to collaborating in the future.
YOP Works and Needs to Be a Permanent Program
Mid-City CAN Youth Council member Karina Sandoval, a 16-year-old incoming senior at Hoover High School and City Heights resident, spoke at a Back to School press conference that promoted the Youth Opportunity Pass (YOP). The event was held on August 26 at Hoover High School and was attended by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego Unified School District, SANDAG, Chair Nathan Fletcher, and other YOP supporters.
Chair Fletcher began the press conference by thanking the advocates of the YOP pass: “This is an incredible asset. I really want to thank everyone who’s here who advocated for so long to make Youth Opportunity Passes happen. I want to thank in particular Mid-City CAN. I want to thank City Heights CDC, and I want to thank all the parents and the incredible coalition of folks who have been fighting for this for so long.”
Fletcher introduced Karina who talked about the importance of YOP. Below is a transcript of her speech:
"My name is Karina Sandoval, and I am a 16-year-old incoming senior at Hoover High School, a City Heights resident, and a Mid City CAN youth council member. Living in City Heights my entire life, I have seen numerous ways my neighbors struggle to provide essentials for their families, from the rent to the food on the table. My single mother being one of them, I was left to utilize public transportation on my own from my very first day of high school as a 13-year-old while she worked early shifts.
"For the past four years, I have used the bus to go to school every morning, attend dentist appointments, arrive at every one of my internships, and make it to daily volleyball games and practices. Through the rush of making it to every destination, I feared the expiration of my bus pass every time I stepped foot onto the bus. There was even once when this fear became true on a school morning. My pass expired that day, and I was short of change. I stepped off feeling defeated as I had now missed my history exam. Other days, I feared being stranded at night as my internship tutoring children ended late.
"With the surfacing of the Youth opportunity pass I never had to worry about the expiration of my bus pass or making sure I always had change with me to be able to go home. Without money being in the way, I found myself taking more opportunities to make a change within my community as I had a potent form of transportation. For this reason, the Youth Opportunity Pass Program should remain in place. This program ensures youth from all backgrounds are connected to their schools, internships, medical care, and early career opportunities. In addition, the YOP is a proven program. Similar programs exist in Alameda County, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Santa Ana. This is our chance to provide our underserved youth in San Diego with the materials to become successful academically and in their livelihoods."
Thank you Karina for an amazing speech on the importance of this program and why it needs to be permanent!
Keep spreading the word about the YOP program. Click here to get a free PRONTO youth card today!
📷: Ron Sanchez, Mid-City CAN