City Heights

Thumbnail image for La Maestra Foundation’s Free Youth Program in City Heights Turns Skateboarding Stigma into Positive Impact on Community

La Maestra Foundation’s Free Youth Program in City Heights Turns Skateboarding Stigma into Positive Impact on Community

by Source 06.21.2014 Activism

By Brent Jensen & Kiran Mehta / AjA Project Inter+Sections

On Saturday afternoons at Skate 4185!, a free youth program at the City Heights La Maestra Foundation on Fairmount Ave, kids utilize their skateboarding prowess while participating in trash cleanups. The community-based Skate 4185! program gives local youth the opportunity to explore their interests, express their individuality and leave a positive impact on the community.

Youth from the City Heights area meet at 12 pm every Saturday at the main building of the La Maestra Foundation, located at 4185 Fairmount Ave, to fill trash bags with the litter that persistently occupies the streets of their neighborhoods.

The old Foundation building was transformed from residential housing to a community center ten years ago. Smiles, positivity and a sense of family resonate through activities at the Foundation such as cooking, gardening and hanging out with peers.

Matt Eaton, Youth Programs Coordinator for the La Maestra Foundation and lead instructor of Skate 4185!, focuses on keeping youth safe, positive and on task. Eaton accompanies his students on their skating excursions and provides encouragement and positive feedback for their dedication and community service – which despite the rubber gloves and dutiful cause, always resembles play.

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Thumbnail image for The Bahati Mamas : Seeds for Change

The Bahati Mamas : Seeds for Change

by Source 05.31.2014 Activism

Chasing Freedom and Opportunity

By Binti Musa / AjA Blog

The Bahati Mamas are a group of five Somali Bantu women living in City Heights who started their own farming business. The women are Somali Bantu Refugees who were forced to leave their home in 2004 to seek refuge in the United States because of the civil war in Somalia.

The Somali Bantu refugees had to leave everything they knew. As part of their resettlement, the International Recuse Committee (IRC) helped the refugee families find jobs, learn English and help their children get an education. The refugees faced many challenges while learning American customs; one of these challenges was finding good, quality, organic produce for the families in their community. This served as an impetus for people of the Somali Bantu community to begin efforts to farm like they did in their old home.

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Thumbnail image for For the Mid-City Community: Three Decades of Broken Promises

For the Mid-City Community: Three Decades of Broken Promises

by Source 05.02.2014 Activism

By Sam Ollinger  / bikesd.org

In late 1972, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) released a report detailing the impact that would result after the construction of I-15 (from I-805 to I-8, approximately 3 miles) through the heart of Mid-City, specifically the neighborhood of City Heights:

The project is in an urban area. Potential impacts are mainly on people, air quality and noise. Another issue is the use of land from the area known as Park de la Cruz.

The selected freeway design will displace about 650 apartment units or homes [Ed. note: displacing 2,000 people plus about 63 commercial units affecting 110 jobs and $1.5 million in annual taxable retail]. The impact of displacement is borne by the people in the path of the freeway. For some, moving will mean a disruption of life patterns. Others would have been moving away. For many, the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 will bring economic benefits as high as $15,000 for moving costs, replacement housing payments and interest differential payments.

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Thumbnail image for Ghosts of City Heights Past: Chaos, Wonder, and Love

Ghosts of City Heights Past: Chaos, Wonder, and Love

by Jim Miller 02.24.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

In my first novel, Drift, there is a passage where the main character, Joe, is driving through City Heights pondering the poetry of the streets.

He notes the “funky majesty” of a store front church sandwiched between a pharmacy and a liquor store and revels in the cacophony of signs in Vietnamese, Spanish, English, and more while he loses himself in the street life passing by as “everything bled together seamlessly in the twilight and became part of the mystic fabric of impending night.”

Joe’s musings mix with music on the radio as he contemplates the “blue feeling” of minimarts to jazz and rolls by massage parlors, 99-cent stores, and the Tower Bar. When I read this passage back in 2007, I had the pleasure of being accompanied by Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet and his melancholy solo lent the perfect air of blues dignity to the piece. It was, of course, a love song to my old neighborhood and the present hard-edged marvel that is City Heights.

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Thumbnail image for Floyd Morrow, Eternal Optimist in Paradise

Floyd Morrow, Eternal Optimist in Paradise

by Source 02.07.2014 Activism

By Mic Porte

Floyd Morrow is an ex-Marine sergeant who served in combat in the Korean War and later earned a law degree at the University of Texas. He has been a career attorney and longtime citizen activist, both in and out of the San Diego political scene since 1952. He currently leads a philosopher’s round table every Wednesday in the Linda Vista Village community room. The roundtable is a potluck and it’s a potlatch, a native people’s word that means everybody contributes.

“Everybody contributes” would be one of the tenants of Floyd Morrow’s philosophy of life, as well as “positivism,” his personal contribution to a round-the-table query of everybody’ s favorite “isms” which included “prism, hedonism, favoritism, romanticism, mechanism and fiesty-ism. ” We laughed that capitalism, socialism, and communism didn’t make the cut. We shared a moment of silence for the great Pete Seeger, who just died, at 92, a heroic voice of many generations, but only a moment of silence as there were many talkers at this council of scholars.”

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Thumbnail image for Albertsons is Abandoning City Heights. A Terrible Disaster? Or a Great Opportunity?

Albertsons is Abandoning City Heights. A Terrible Disaster? Or a Great Opportunity?

by Richard Juarez 01.29.2014 Activism

By Richard Juarez

Like Ralphs and Vons, Albertsons is continuing the trend of moving out of inner-city areas. Change that to ethnic communities. The Ralphs and Albertsons in downtown San Diego are doing just fine because their target shoppers are their predominantly white middle class neighbors. They are leaving City Heights, National City and Chula Vista because they have lost sales to smaller specialty markets that cater to their clients’ food preferences.

The large traditional supermarkets are set up to provide the same food products in all their stores, all over the country. Their store policies do not allow individual stores to adjust their products to meet the food preferences of the neighborhood clientele. They cannot or will not adjust because they want to be able to order the same food, have the same promotions and sales at all stores, and more easily compare store performance using the same products.

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Thumbnail image for Reader’s Response to “What Does City Heights Lose when Albertsons Closes?”

Reader’s Response to “What Does City Heights Lose when Albertsons Closes?”

by Source 01.27.2014 Economy

“The branch doesn’t fall far from the tree” vis á vis City Heights and Albertson’s

By Remigia Bermúdez’ 

“The branch doesn’t fall far from the tree” comes to mind in so many respects as I read with great care the insightful article written by SDFP’s Anna Daniels on the economic prospect’s and livelihood of City Heights residents without a clear direction as to who does what about City Heights’ concerns losing a major supermarket, jobs, economic base and faith in local government.

My comments are my professional/personal opinions in an attempt to answer the original questions posed by Anna Daniels in her outstanding article on the impact of Albertsons departure from the City Heights redeveloped project area:

  • 1) Who benefited most from the original redevelopment project in City Heights
  • 2) Who are the parties of interest?
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Thumbnail image for The Dark Side of the Mayoral Race: Dog Whistle Racism vs Evil CEOs

The Dark Side of the Mayoral Race: Dog Whistle Racism vs Evil CEOs

by Doug Porter 01.16.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

As predicted, things are getting nasty in San Diego’s mayoral contest between City Councilmen David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer.

The “non-affiliated groups”, fostered via right wing challenges to rules about campaign finance, are doing the heavy lifting. In theory this separates the candidates from the ugliness. In practice nobody can tell the difference. Or cares.

Two of these major mudslinging efforts are under scrutiny in the local media scene this week. Voice of San Diego took on a labor council backed TV ad putting Kevin Faulconer in the crosshairs and UT-San Diego ran a “fact check” on a Lincoln Club backed mailer attacking David Alvarez.  (Yes, the actual entities doing the dirty work have “official names”, but the truth is that these groups are the real contenders in this race.)

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Thumbnail image for UT-San Diego Shafts its Employees, Blames Obamacare

UT-San Diego Shafts its Employees, Blames Obamacare

by Doug Porter 01.06.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Employees of the UT-San Diego are the latest casualties in the sordid saga of the right wing’s assault on the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

UT Publisher Doug Manchester has made opposition and denigration of the President’s health insurance reform agenda a top priority since the day he bought the paper. His editorial pages have been (figuratively) screaming about the impending end of Western Civilization for months on end.  The ACA’s primary pillar—the individual mandate—was actually a conservative counter-proposal to President Clinton’s attempt to implement universal health care nearly two decades ago.

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Thumbnail image for Support Local Artists, Artisans and Small Businesses, Buy Independent for the Holidays

Support Local Artists, Artisans and Small Businesses, Buy Independent for the Holidays

by Brent E. Beltrán 12.04.2013 Arts

By Brent E. Beltrán

The holidays are upon us and the time for gift giving is here. Instead of shopping at the malls and giving your hard earned cash to a corporation why not purchase items from local artists and artisans?

Here is a short list of holiday art bazaars and small businesses that deserve to be patronized this holiday season.

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Thumbnail image for National Security Agency’s Secret Role in City Heights Somali Case Upheld by Judge

National Security Agency’s Secret Role in City Heights Somali Case Upheld by Judge

by Doug Porter 11.15.2013 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

 U.S. District Court Federal Judge Jeffrey Miller denied a motion yesterday that would have granted a new trial for four Somali men convicted of aiding terrorists.

At the heart of their appeal were defense assertions that evidence collected by the National Security Agency violated the Fourth Amendment Rights of the defendants.

You might think this was an open and shut case: the government’s “big ears” caught some bad guy terrorists and they were brought to justice. But you’d be wrong.

The implications of this case go far beyond the common media portrayal of some African immigrants wiring money to a shady militia back home.

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Thumbnail image for A Brief History of “Livable Neighborhoods” in San Diego

A Brief History of “Livable Neighborhoods” in San Diego

by Source 10.30.2013 Activism

By Jay Powell

Livable Neighborhoods was a program piloted in City Heights in the early 90′s by then City Manager Jack McGrory. It was in response to a community improvement partnership of community members and the City to bring City staff out of City Hall and into the communities. It was complemented with Neighborhood Policing that had assigned teams cruising patrol cars and bikes and meeting in storefronts to proactively address issues block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood.

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Thumbnail image for The Fish Stinks From the Head – Tales of Woe About San Diego’s MTS and NCTD Transit Authorities

The Fish Stinks From the Head – Tales of Woe About San Diego’s MTS and NCTD Transit Authorities

by Doug Porter 10.24.2013 Activism

By Doug Porter

“The fish stinks from the head” is an old Turkish metaphor used to attribute poor leadership as the cause for dysfunctional enterprises.

News accounts from the past 24 hours about San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD) speak to seriously misplaced priorities, along with racism and sexism in both organizations.

In today’s UT-San Diego there is a story detailing how officials with the Metropolitan Transit System have declined to offer discounts for low income students. A pilot program, funded by both the school district and the City Council will now be cut by more than half.

Yesterday reporter Brad Racino at inewsource/KPBS broke a major story about sex and age bias in employment policies within the North County Transit District. 

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Thumbnail image for Marti Emerald on ‘The People’s District’ of City Heights

Marti Emerald on ‘The People’s District’ of City Heights

by Source 10.15.2013 Economy

By City Councilwoman Marti Emerald

I feel proud every time I attend a neighborhood meeting, a community coffee, or an event in City Heights. After all, it is the most vibrant, diverse, and innovative Council District in the city. My staff and I refer to District Nine as “the People’s District.”

Diversity isn’t a catchphrase in my district; it’s a way of life. Walk around City Heights for a day and you’re likely to see Cambodian immigrants eating at Ethiopian restaurants, African Americans buying the best Vietnamese Pho in town, or Latino, Rwandan, Burundi and Congolese kids playing baseball at a community park. More than 30 languages are spoken here, and dedicated organizations, such as the Great Lakes Union for Development, support the hundreds of refugee families that have settled in City Heights.

Diversity in City Heights goes beyond the residents. The community is made up of 16 separate neighborhoods – many with their own community groups – making each part of the community unique. Instead of one voice trying to speak for the diverse needs of the community, City Heights has numerous organizations constantly searching for creative ways to make the area the best it can be.

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Thumbnail image for City Heights Farmer: The Art of Raising Chickens in San Diego

City Heights Farmer: The Art of Raising Chickens in San Diego

by Source 10.10.2013 Culture

By Janis Mork / East County Magazine

City Heights – On the weekend of September 21st, some 30 would-be urban farmers flocked to hear Farmer Bill Tall from City Heights Farmers Nursery offer advice on how to raise chickens. San Diego, along with several other jurisdictions locally, recently legalized backyard ownership of hens – though not roosters.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Tall led off with tips on keeping eggs.

“You don’t have to refrigerate them as long as you don’t wash them,” he said. He advised storing washed eggs in a separate container from foods.

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Thumbnail image for Us He Devours: Government by Crisis, a Shutdown in Wartime

Us He Devours: Government by Crisis, a Shutdown in Wartime

by Anna Daniels 10.09.2013 City Heights: Up Close & Personal

By Anna Daniels

It is easy to imagine that the Republican hostage taking in Congress is little more than a great deal of sound and too much fury that signifies nothing to ordinary people living ordinary lives outside of the Beltway. The words “shutdown” and “default” don’t enter into conversations very often here, John Boehner is an unknown and that is perfectly fine with the madmen and madwomen who are much more concerned about being disrespected, waiting for the end time and the perfect photo-op.

The people who live here on 45th Street keep talking about the same things they have been talking about for the past five or six years– they are looking for full time work that pays a livable wage, affordable housing, health care and enough money to get the car fixed and buy school clothes for their kids. There is also an urgency for the children who were brought into this country without documents to receive legal status through the Dream Act.

It is easy to imagine that these two worlds don’t intersect, but that is not the case at all.

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Thumbnail image for Travelers on the Street of Dreams

Travelers on the Street of Dreams

by Anna Daniels 10.02.2013 Activism

“My challenge is to finish high school as a teenage Mom”

By Anna Daniels

Once a year Teresa Gunn, artistic director and founder of Street of Dreams, stands before a full house in the City College Saville Theatre and opens the student performance with these words:

We have the highest prison population that we have ever had in the history of the country. At Street of Dreams we are not willing to put another generation of people in prison because we lack the humanity to produce a creative solution. The solution is education and community collaboration. Street of Dreams is part of the solution.

Street of Dreams has been part of that solution since its founding in 1998, when Teresa Gunn recognized that the power of story telling and arts education could provide a path out of poverty and inter-generational incarceration and addiction for young mothers who had found themselves in the juvenile justice system.

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Thumbnail image for An Informal Economy with Entrepreneurs From Across the Globe Flourishes in City Heights

An Informal Economy with Entrepreneurs From Across the Globe Flourishes in City Heights

by Source 10.02.2013 Business

By Jim Bliesner

The informal economy forms a major portion of the day to day economic life of most City Heights residents. It is very visible throughout the neighborhood. Frequent and constant “yard sales” appear daily but more often on weekends. Fruit vendors appear at random locations with everything from oranges, mangos, watermelons to fresh boxes of papaya. Soccer games are sites for icy cones, fruit, and in some cases hot food.

Food vendors circle the soccer field. When school lets out at the Adult Education Building the food is ready. Periodically tamale vendors wander down the street, followed by hand built furniture salesmen in big pickup trucks filled with tables and chairs. Rather than a food truck one may find a push cart parked outside the bars at midnight. Garages serve as sewing factories while kitchens cook tamales, various specialty dishes for local restaurants. There are two full blown Nicaraguan restaurants in someone’s living rooms and yard known only to the special invitees and guests.

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Thumbnail image for Stagnation in San Diego – CPI Asks “What Economic Recovery?”

Stagnation in San Diego – CPI Asks “What Economic Recovery?”

by Doug Porter 09.20.2013 Activism

By Doug Porter

The Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI) released its annual number crunching report for San Diego yesterday based on 2012 Census data, and picture painted within isn’t pretty.

Despite media reports about how “things are getting better”, CPI’s data point to the reality that the economic recovery has passed by most households and employees in the San Diego region.

“People have less money to spend, even those working full-time,” said CPI Research Director Peter Brownell in a press release. “The wealthiest saw their incomes increase in 2012, but when we hear talk of economic recovery, it hasn’t reached most people in our region.”

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Thumbnail image for Language Interpreters Are California’s Lifeline

Language Interpreters Are California’s Lifeline

by Source 09.13.2013 Health

Lack of Interpreters is a Life and Death Situation for Many

By Lorena Gonzalez

There are more than 50 languages spoken more comfortable and proficiently than English by the residents in the South Bay and Mid-City San Diego neighborhoods I represent. Throughout California, this challenge is shared by more than 6.5 million Californians, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Ordering food. Asking for directions. Attending school. Interviewing for a job. Filling prescriptions. Rescheduling appointments.

No situation involving a language barrier is as frightening, though, as one that risks the life of a loved one.

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Thumbnail image for Leapin’ Lizards, It’s Words Alive! Encouraging Lifetime Learning through Literacy

Leapin’ Lizards, It’s Words Alive! Encouraging Lifetime Learning through Literacy

by Source 09.12.2013 Culture

By Frances O’Neill Zimmerman

For a good time, call maestra Amanda at (858) 274-9673.

This San Antonio-born Texas rose will explain everything you need to know about joining Words Alive, a local literacy non-profit now seeking adult volunteers for this school year which runs from October through May.

If you’re into reading stories aloud and think you would enjoy doing same for pre-school kids who return the favor by imagining you are nice, fun and funny – Words Alive is meant for you.

Or, if survivor teenagers are your cup of tea, you can lead a monthly book discussion for determined high school students from the County’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools. There’s a volunteer writing-help brigade as well – part of Words Alive’s Adolescent Book Group.

Not to worry about feeling insecure: all WA volunteers work in pairs or groups.

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Thumbnail image for King Tut in City Heights

King Tut in City Heights

by Anna Daniels 09.11.2013 Business

Egyptian Revival Architecture on Euclid Avenue

By Anna Daniels

It is difficult to imagine the excitement and personal interest in Egyptian antiquities that Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamen’s 3,000 year old tomb engendered in 1922. A series of sealed chambers were filled with so many funerary objects that it took days to remove them on stretchers. The final chamber which included the nested sarcophagi of the “Boy King” was filled with dazzling gold and blue adornments and objects provided for Tut’s journey into the after life. Carter had hit the archeological mother lode.

The discovery of the tomb was significant for Egyptologists and it also caught the imagination of the European and American public. Travels to Egypt to view the antiquities became even more popular. Jewelers recreated designs found in the tomb. Scarab rings and brooches became fashionable.

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Thumbnail image for Through the City Heights Looking Glass

Through the City Heights Looking Glass

by Source 09.06.2013 Activism

By Dana Driskill

With  a 41 percent foreign born population in City Heights, it’s easy to see how a sizable percent are refugees who have come to resettle in this neighborhood in San Diego.

Refugees’ presence can be seen and felt in various areas of the community- from currency exchange buildings to colorful murals at the schools to authentic Vietnamese, Mexican, and Ethiopian eateries, just to name a few. While refugees bring complex and beautiful traditions and practices from their culture to the area, the transition from their previous home to a new one isn’t always easy. As a result, City Heights provides various resources to help refugees resettle and assimilate to the new community.

One such organization is the AjA Project, an arts based program founded in 2000 for refugee and urban youth, and some adult populations. The name AjA is an acronym for the phrase, “Autosuficiencia Juntada con Apoyo” which means supporting self-sufficiency and represents the core philosophy of the organization.

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Thumbnail image for Let’s Start a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ Program for Mayoral Candidates

Let’s Start a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ Program for Mayoral Candidates

by Doug Porter 09.05.2013 Columns

By Doug Porter

It seems like ‘neighborhood’ is the new ‘sustainable’ for candidates in San Diego as the campaigns for the mayoral special election on November 19th get underway.  Yes, indeedy, it seems as though this buzzword is on everybody’s lips.

What the word ‘neighborhood’ actually means to the various candidates is what we’ll be looking to find out in the coming weeks. Both the effen (my new shorthand for the anointed candidates that “everybody knows” will win) brothers emphasized the new ‘n word’ in their initial pronouncements.

Meanwhile things are going on in San Diego’s neighborhoods and communities of interest that are symptomatic a return to the business as usual mentality that has dominated the local landscape for generations.

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Thumbnail image for City Heights Prepares for Obamacare: How Outreach Will Affect Enrollment

City Heights Prepares for Obamacare: How Outreach Will Affect Enrollment

by Anna Daniels 09.04.2013 Activism

By Anna Daniels

While Republicans are busily obstructing and attempting to de-fund (but not replace) Obamacare, California has been gearing up for the day when a significant number of its 7.1 million uninsured residents under the age of 65 can sign up for health insurance on the State’s health care exchange. That day is October 1, 2013. The insurance itself will go into effect on January 1, 2014. All Americans must be insured by tax time next year or face a penalty – 1 percent of their annual income or $95, whichever is higher.

There is a great deal at stake here in City Heights for making the enrollment period a success. There is a great deal at stake here in City Heights for making the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) a success. There is a higher percentage of uninsured adults and children in City Heights than the county and state averages. There are fewer working adults in City Heights with insurance coverage–only 49% compared with 65% of county residents. This translates into lower levels of preventive and routine health care access– the very things that Obamacare will provide. “All new health plans must cover essential health benefits such as doctor visits, hospitalization, emergency care,maternity, pediatric care for your kids and prescriptions,among other services. “

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